‘Review’ Delivers Dark Humor

Before I start, I’m going to disregard the overwhelming irony of writing a review over Comedy Central’s new television series, “Review.”

There. I feel better now.

While “Review” is a new project by the Viacom channel, it is based on the Australian television series, “Review with Myles Barlow.” Much like its predecessor, “Review” features a host who reviews things, but not normal things such as movies, books or even food. Instead, host Forrest MacNeil, played by a sheepish Andy Daly, reviews life itself by taking requests of various life experiences from audience members via email, Skype or Twitter.

In the first episode, which aired March 6, MacNeil begins his new series by seeing what it’s like to commit a robbery after a man sent in a request asking whether stealing his grandmother’s television would leave him wanting more or haunted by his guilt.

The series, which airs at 9 p.m. Thursday nights, has released only two episodes, each including three requests to be lived out through MacNeil, sometimes at the expense of his family and friends.
As of now, MacNeil has reviewed stealing, addiction, senior prom, making a sex tape, hunting and even being a racist.

Only five people make up the main cast for “Review”: Daly as MacNeil, Megan Stevenson as A.J. Gibbs, MacNeil’s cohost; Jessica St. Claire as Suzanne, his wife; Fred Willard as Jack, his father-in-law and James Urbaniak as Grant, his producer.

While they haven’t appeared yet, Comedy Central announced that big names such as Andy Richter, Ashley Tisdale, Jason Mantzoukas, Rich Fulcher, Emo Philips, Andy Blitz and Maria Thayer will guest star in the series.

While watching the first episode I kept thinking, “This is something The Onion would make,” thinking mainly of the organization’s web series, “Porkin’ Across America.”

The show centers around a man who, as a part of his reality television series, travels across the nation to taste various pork products made by famous restaurants. The journey, while sometimes beneficial to his show, takes a large and dangerous toll on his personal life.

“Review”, in a way, encompasses this idea by having MacNeil act out his various reviews at the cost of his personal life. In the next episode, set to air tomorrow, MacNeil will review a divorce. I can’t wait to see how that goes.

While this series is quite funny in a dark, somewhat dry fashion, I would be surprised to see this show get as far as a fourth season.

Why? Well, there are only a certain amount of experiences, particularly potential humorous experiences, you can review until you start to run out of content. When the show finally reaches that point, they will have to either cancel the series or expand its boundaries. For a mainstream cable station like Comedy Central, that may not work out so well, given their show “Tosh.0” has pushed far beyond their average scope of morals. “Review” doesn’t have the audience for that sort of move just yet.

If anything, I could easily see the show being taken over by Adult Swim or the Independent Film Channel (IFC), a station that has a lot of history with Daly as a reoccurring actor on “Comedy Bang! Bang!”

With two episodes already out, I can easily say that I’m a fan of the show and I look forward to seeing where Daly and the producers go from here, especially the review of “being Batman” coming up in the season’s fourth episode.

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