When Angie Tribeca first hit our screens it was something of a delight and quite Police Squad-ish in the amount of silly jokes and daft background gags each episode contained. Rashida Jones made for a very likeable lead (especially compared to her role in Parks and Recreation when they ran out of things to do with her character all too quickly), and the supporting cast were decent too, with Alfred Molina especially a highlight as an eccentric coroner. It was never going to win awards for inventive plotting or for creating unforgettable characters but despite the odd misfire it made me laugh an awful lot.
Unfortunately the second season was fairly weak, the first couple of episodes entertained but it went downhill fast, the gag rate declined and certain episodes were drab and disappointing. It’s not uncommon for a show like this to struggle after a while, Charlie Brooker’s A Touch Of Cloth cop spoof suffered from far too much repetition in the final couple of episodes, but the jokes we were left with were mostly a bit predictable and dull. Thankfully the third season was a return to form, the styles of humour became more varied and it stopped being only a parody of cop shows (though that was still an element) with Chris Pine having a lot of fun as a Hannibal Lecter-esque psychopath.
Now the first five episodes of the fourth season have aired in the US, with the first continuing on from the season 3 cliffhanger where Angie was accused of murdering someone by the name of Angie Tribeca nineteen years ago and taking on her identity. Instead it turns out she just created her own fake identity but she still ends up in prison because those helping her out were so inept. Then we jump forward twenty years to her release where she’s recruited by her former Lieutenant as a member of Special Division Force a top secret unit founded by the vice president to take on the kind of cases outside the scope of traditional law enforcement.
The time jump allows them to change the cast a little, pleasingly Jere Burns and Andrée Vermeulen are still present but now Bobby Cannavale stars as Tribeca’s son who she abandoned when he was two and Kiersey Clemons plays supposed psychic Maria Charo. Giles (Hayes MacArthur) and Tanner (Deon Cole) are absent though, I was never a huge fan of the former and Cannavale is a great replacement but I miss Cole who had great comic timing. At least Officer Hoffman is back (though as he’s a dog it’s actually his grandson) and I’m pretty sure I’ll never tire of their inspired use of the character, so that’s something.
This first episode sees the gang go undercover at a hospital to stop the assassination of a politician which will affect Frexit and see it probably go ahead, it’s a cute idea but they don’t use it to create many allusions to Brexit or jokes along those lines, though as it appears it’s going to be an ongoing plot line there’s still time for this. It’s definitely a great idea to shake things up with the change of the concept of the show and it allows them to spoof spy series and by going undercover at a hospital there’s a nice piss take of Grey’s Anatomy use of narration too, and hospital tropes in general. They also find the time to include a great joke about an extremely hairy french man, Hoffman giving another dog a bath, Charo revealing Tribeca’s constipation concerns and Bobby Cannavale’s childish tantrums constantly amused as well, the moment he screws up a gun making me laugh the most.
It’s not as good as the first season but it’s a definite step up from the second and currently on a par with the third. It’s playful and inventive, the cast is incredibly strong and the ongoing plot allows them to create a far more involving narrative. Whether they’ll be able to maintain the pretty high gag rate and combine it with a story which continues to interest is open to question as it’s not always something they’ve managed to do in the past, but right now I’m really glad that Angie Tribeca’s back.