Mix Subtlety, Dark Humour, Satire, and Cheekiness
We all have a core of what defines our viewing tastes. For me that is Drama and Comedy (Which is probably why ‘This Is Us’ appeals so much!). Yes, I can enjoy other genres (like Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, and Action) but there has to be a strong emotional core (which is why ‘Arrival’ and ‘Her’ appeals more to me than ‘Ex-Machina’). So for this series, I will dig into titles that made it to my viewing list (at least garnering a 5/10) that might not be overtly a comedy yet has enough ‘comic beats’ to warrant shining a light on.
For this instalment, I’ll be looking at a TV show that is near perfect (some episodes garnering as high as a 9/10). I’m guessing it’s because two of its creators (husband and wife: Michelle King and Robert King) had significant time to hone their storytelling ability while working on ‘The Good Wife’ as well as ‘BrainDead’ (I’ve got the feeling this is the reason why the final season of ‘The Good Wife’ was uneven was because their attention was divided) and also have significant comedy in them. The difference between those two shows is that this one was created for CBS’ streaming platform.
The show follows Diane Lockhart’s (Christine Baranski) next chapter as her retirement plans go awry and she finds new Goliaths to take on as she joins the firm that Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) help build. She also brings goddaughter Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) who is also starting anew since the family name has been ruined by her father’s investment fund (which ended up as a pyramid scheme as it tried to stay afloat despite significant losses).
My biggest disappointment is that the show hadn’t followed ‘The Good Place’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ in terms of additional content. The former with panel appearances/philosophical shorts and the latter with a podcast/DVD commentary. Seriously…the reason I’m probably able to catch up with latter seasons of ‘Better Call Saul’ (I only made it halfway through Season 3) is because the camaraderie between those in front and behind the camera comes across as so genuine that I don’t have to watch episodes to enjoy their banter in every podcast episode.
What is does well though is the casting, writing, and putting the right person to tweet on behalf of the creators. If the lack of content is the sacrifice…then I am VERY okay with that. Speaking of casting, there is none more annoying than the character of Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry), who had also appeared in a four episode arc in ‘The Good Wife’ facing off against Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies). If there was a ‘tackle’ button I could press on the remote, I would have done so…multiple times. He is given Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston) as his main sparring partner and what a joy it was to watch this liar (that’s literally what his character is: someone who lies…all the time) get his due.
Good comedy (at least the ones that appeal to me) isn’t forced, and it’s no surprise that both the comedy and the drama are woven into each other. No, this isn’t the kind of show that gets you belly-laughing then serious in the next moment. It’s more that the gags are hilarious but they don’t take away from the serious moments (like when Diane gets really frustrated and helpless that she isn’t really doing anything to help things). What’s also enjoyable is each performer gets to stretch their comedic skills — except maybe Roland Blum (Michael Sheen), who’s a bit of an amalgamation of individuals like Roger Stone and Roy Cohn.
And as with all exploratory comedy, there are points that the show definitely pushes the boundaries. Make no mistake, this isn’t a family friendly show (it is…if your kids are both in their early 30’s) and at times toes the line between ‘inappropriate’ and ‘inappropriately funny’. One example is when Adrian starts coaxing the rest of the panel to say the ‘N-word’. For me the hilarity comes when the scene gets cut at the right moment and we are taken to Diane who cackles at her screen. It’s different approach to what ‘Zootopia’ took in which any sort of slur is replaced by ‘cute’, which kind of links to how differently they tackle things. The Disney film goes for an indirect route while the Kings go for more of a direct one (there is also a similar storyline which has STR Laurie’s Human Resources team involved).
Other Comedic Moments:
- Newly assertive Maia.
- The silver lining of Ponzi Schemes
- Maia trying to reply to Lucca Quinn’s (Cush Jumbo) message during her ride along
- Lucca’s non-bleeped filled birthing suite.
- Gags relating to Maia’s call centre job
- The Gang getting a witness to integrate Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) methods while answering a question to make it more likely that Judge Toosie (Chris Sullivan) sides with them.
- Julius Cain’s (Michael Boatman) face in cookie form
- Brian Kneef (Raúl Esparza) redefining ‘threats’.
- Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) and ‘The Art of Blurting Things Out‘
- Lucca admitting to David Lee (Zach Grenier) that her winnings haven’t arrived yet.
- Marissa beyond excited about Lucca’s purchase of a Birkin Bag.
- The reveal that David is a picky eater.
- Jay Dipersia (Nyambi Nyambi) and Marissa’s car chase
Since I source new episodes from SBS (Sorry ‘All Access‘ if Prime allows me to return a film I wasn’t happy with…maybe I might reconsider!), I am now only a couple of days away until I get an opportunity to watch the Season 4 finale. In the case of the show…it’s those in the United States that aren’t so lucky as unlocking all four seasons would require a subscription (though last year CBS aired all three seasons). To me, it’s quite simple: I stop a streaming service in favour of another (I’m not the kind of viewer that needs 12 months of streaming and only do so when I have extra time: like recovering from the flu). Thankfully SBS sees the value of acquiring the broadcasting rights for ‘The Good Fight’ and had been airing new seasons each year.
Actually, you don’t have to choose streaming options, as you can just buy the DVDs to each season. Is it worth it? Well…if you’re looking to support brilliant shows such as this. Go for it! But if you’re a bit hesitant and not sure if you’ll be as riveted as I am, here’s an excuse: purchase it when your mates get together. If you usually show up gift in hand, why not bring one season instead of those pricey cheese baskets (yes…they are a thing).
Think of your good friend, who initially came across as this ‘super-serious person’ and turns out to be one of the humans that is capable of giving you the best belly-laughs you’ve ever experienced…and that’s my pitch. Beyond the very serious poster (and clips and ads) is a goldmine of laughs.
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