This is a spoiler free Angie Tribeca Season 4 review.
This review is based on all ten half-hour episodes of Angie Tribeca Season 4.
It’s been a year and a half since there was last any new Angie Tribeca and while the mock-melodramatic comedy ended on a seismic cliffhanger (Angie Tribeca was arrested…for the murder of Angie Tribeca), this is also a show where nothing grave should taken too seriously. Case in point, part of this new season’s pivot involves Angie Tribeca finally getting out of prison after a twenty-year stint.
Tribeca immediately heads back into the fray to help fight crime, but now she’s working alongside her disgruntled son, A.J. (Bobby Cannavale), who was left to grow up without a mother. Neither of these actors’ appearances are changed in any way and 48 year-old Cannavale is supposed to be the 22 year-old son of Angie Tribeca, who I guess is in her fifties or sixties at this point. It’s such a completely absurd idea that falls apart the minute you try to make sense of it, but it’s also the sort of madness that the series handles so perfectly. Angie Tribeca hasn’t lost a beat with how sharp, or how crazy, it is.
When you’re four seasons into a ridiculous show like this one, the question becomes less as to whether it can remain funny, but rather if it can still top itself and surprise audiences like it could in its earlier years. Angie Tribeca season 4 certainly finds a way to do that. This program that doesn’t take itself seriously finds a way to take itself even less seriously this year. The show works even harder to up its game and become more over the top, but Angie Tribeca is still surprisingly respectful and careful with its continuity.
This season sees Angie and the rest of the Special Division Force work against an international terrorist who has a seemingly infinite amount of disguises (which is a joke that gets a tremendous payoff towards the end of the season). This criminal launches Tribeca and company into an intense game of cat and mouse that lasts all season and frequently throws them off kilter. Furthermore, the Special Division Force carries out missions that go beyond the law’s jurisdiction for the Vice President, the very person who wrongfully sent Tribeca away to jail for twenty years. This leaves Tribeca with a lot of complicated feelings to sort out regarding how her life and job has changed.
This angle for the year plays with the idea that Angie doesn’t know if this new version of her team are actually the good guys or not and she heads down a wormhole of deception and corruption. Even Angie’s skepticism towards this season’s storyline turns into a running joke to poke fun at. It’s a perfect fit for the show and another fun element to heap onto this season. With Angie Tribeca there are either small stakes or stakes that are so insurmountably high that its absurd, but this season finds a fun way to inject each case with a little more suspense. It also usually manages to connect its crime of the week with Tribeca’s larger mission through the season to figure out the truth behind their Special Division Force. It’s also just fun to see how the season successfully pairs together random concepts like E-Sports and money laundering or glee clubs and computer hacking.
The most entertaining aspect of this new season is that Angie Tribeca seamlessly takes other genres under its wing as this year involves a lot more espionage than straight police work. This allows the show to poke fun at and become a part of a medical drama, high school musical, or fashion magazine as they infiltrate different television genres in each episode. There’s even a brilliant all-out Fargo and Coen Bros. homage installment that nails the production design of the FX series and the tone of prestige dramas in general (as well as the best parody of Anton Chigurh you’ll ever see). Cannavale and Rose Byrne get the opportunity to riff on ‘80s Wall Street for a whole episode and Atkins goes on a lengthy National Treasure tangent. The show is never short for radical inspiration.
Angie Tribeca wasn’t running stale by any means, but these spins each episode allow the show to breathe a little more and exhibit even fewer growing pains. It’s a smart move and it allows the series to become even more ridiculous. It’s also a little eerie how well the program steps into each of these new genres and perfectly captures their rhythms. It’s a whole new kind of lampoon with every entry and it lets Rashida Jones and the rest of the cast get to show off their accent and character work this season.
This year does go through some minor growing pains as the series loses Geils (Hayes MacArthur) and Tanner (Deon Cole), but the addition of Bobby Cannavale and Kiersey Clemons makes the blow a little less harsh. It’s a decent trade that gives some fresh energy to the show four years in, not that Geils or Tanner were either dead weight. If anything, it also allows characters like Andrée Vermeulen’s Dr. Scholls to get to step into the spotlight more, too. Kiersey Clemons plays Maria Charo, a young addition to the force who may be green, but is a master in body language and psychology. She makes for a welcome, neurotic member of the team and often experiences “hunches” that are simultaneously wild and beyond obvious. Clemons has great energy and fits in well with the rest of this cast. Jones and Cannavale have wonderful chemistry together too, whether they’re playing partners, or mother and son, which provides more of a tenderness to their surreal relationship
The rest of the cast continues to shine in these exaggerated roles and it’s a little crazy how entertaining it still is to watch Atkins yell and that it hasn’t yet hit a point of diminishing returns. Additionally, there’s actually a rather deep, layered storyline that revolves around Dr. Scholls and her years of animosity with Angie that probably doesn’t need to be present, but makes for a nice touch. Like usual with this show, there are also lots of impressive guest stars this season, all of which couldn’t be having more fun, such as Taran Killam, Gillian Jacobs, and freaking Anjelica Huston and Carol Burnett! Old favorites like Heather Graham and John Michael Higgins make return appearance, too.
Thankfully Angie Tribeca is a show that still knows how to move between brilliant wit and outrageous sight gags and hit every comedy note on the scale. This show features some of the most ridiculous crime scenes this side of Hannibal that you almost feel guilty to laugh at. There’s a particular visual gag that involves an armadillo that’s just so insane and unexpected that works as a pretty good representation of what this show is all about.
It can also turn something as obnoxious as product placement into a hilarious joke, which is quite the skill. The show throws so much at the audience that it’s hard for something to not grab you and make you laugh. Then, the second time around something completely different will catch you. There’s a revisionist version of a spit-take this season that needs to become more popular in comedy. Not to be outdone by itself, the reveal at the end about what this season has actually been all about is so ridiculous, but also pretty par for the course with this show. It’s nonsense, but good nonsense.
Angie Tribeca doesn’t hold anything back in its fourth year and with how the season concludes, it’s unclear if this might be the end of the show or if another surprising subversion awaits in season five. However, for the first time the series feels like it’s reached a comfortable place to say goodbye, if that’s what they choose to do. There are still plenty of stories left to tell here, but season four of Angie Tribeca is the show at its most creative and carefree. They’ve done the genre justice and made broad parodies feel rich again.
It’s the perfect show to kick back and watch as you drink a nice, thick money smoothie.
Angie Tribeca season 4 concludes tonight at 8pm with five back-to-back episodes
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.