Tv Review: Search Party Season 3 Episode 1

search party s03e01 indexSearch Party has evolved a great deal over its first two seasons, starting out as a show about Dory Sief (Alia Shawkat) a bored Millenial trying to find a purpose in life, and using the disappearance of someone she didn’t really care about as a way to fulfil her needs. But then at the end of the first season – and spoiler alert, though if you haven’t seen the first season reading a review of the first episode of the third was always going to be a mistake – but then she was responsible for the death of the weird bastard of a Private Eye that was Keith (Ron Livingstone) and the second season became about her declining mental health as she tried to get away with murder.

Along for the ride was her selfish and passive aggressive boyfriend Drew (John Reynolds), narcissistic best friend Elliott (John Early) and the rather ditzy actress Portia (Meredith Hagner), all of whom helped Dory cover up Keith’s death, but one of which may have turned her in as she was arrested at the end of season two finale (with my money on Elliott, though Drew’s an outside bet). Sadly for Dory the arrest didn’t come before she deliberately murdered blackmailer April though, making it a double whammy of a shock as the credits rolled.

Now the third season sees Dory awaiting trial, as she promises us the truth at the beginning. But while the story we get maybe truthful, everything Dory does and says in it is quite the opposite as she hopes to escape a lengthy prison sentence, including a woefully misguided attempt at eating a cassette which contains her confession along with a refusal to talk to the police without a lawyer present. Oh, and amusingly Dory’s the world’s worst actor too, when quizzed in the police car on the way to the station it couldn’t be more obvious that she’s guilty.

Also incapable of acting convincingly is Drew, when Dory calls her boss Gail as it’s the only number she knows Gail then calls Drew, whose lack of shock at the news and attempts at then seeming confused by it is extremely funny. Drew being something of a coward attempts to flee too, but pleasingly doesn’t get away with it, he may not be as guilty of as many crimes as Dory but he’s such a smug unlikeable shit at times that it would have been frustrating to see him escape. As for Elliott and Portia, well both are attempting to live in denial, hoping they might get away with it and not be arrested, though I’ve a feeling both are pretty screwed. At least seeing Portia throw herself in to the arms of a ridiculously pretentious actor was funny to see, and he’s such an absurd human being I hope we get to see more of him in future episodes.

Though there’s a dramatic edge to the series it’s still mainly a dark comedy and the show generates a fair few laughs from the juxtaposition between Dory’s stressful situation and various other characters who ramble away about tedious subjects, like the two cops obsessed with another officer’s shoe size, and the old school friend who boasts of deliberately breaking a toilet without having a clue she’s sitting opposite a murderer, and probably wouldn’t care that much even if she was aware.

Along with all of this there’s a lot of humour to be found in the show’s savage indictment of the police. In a very timely fashion they’re not shown in a positive light here, either just plain stupid as in the case of the officer who allows Dory to rummage around in the evidence bag, or sex obsessed as with the officers who arrested her, while the computer system’s down due to a virus that was probably attached to some downloaded porn, and the prison itself is rat infested, all of which is bleak for sure and is another reason why it’s best to avoid the country right now if you can, but it’s at least presented in a very amusing manner and one which doesn’t spare any prisoners.

Search Party’s been away for way too long but now it’s back with a bang, the kind of explosion that you won’t be able to forget for a long old time. It’s beautifully acted and written and impressively tight too, there’s not a single scene which isn’t essential or at the very least delightfully funny and / or fucked up. The very final scenes suggest that the series is also going to explore the insanity of the media too, along with the legal system, and if it’s as good as the preceding two seasons, and this first episode, than this should be a very special batch of episodes indeed.

★★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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