“No, I wiped them all off.”
We do not need more cop shows. For as long as they’ve been around they’ve been crowding the television marketplace. Even now the number of cop series on television is in the double digits, with Brooklyn Nine-Nine effectively filling the comedic cop niche for three years now. But what we do need are more shows that have such a wonton disregard for reality and the rules that tether the universe down, and Angie Tribeca is that and then some. It also just happens to be a cop show.
Angie Tribeca is the best sort of nonsense that had me laughing hard less than a minute into things and didn’t let up through the entire runtime. There is a relentless pace to this pilot that even if it had half of the jokes that it did, it would still be a very funny show. Creators Steve and Nancy Carell (with Friends’ Ira Ungerleider as showrunner) lovingly pull from the broad, parodical worlds of yesteryear. They’ve whipped up a powerful cocktail that feels like they’ve thrown the likes of Police Squad!, Sledge Hammer!, and the Marx Bros. into a blender, added a dash of mescaline, and then let it fly. They should seriously be saying, “Not from the makers of Sledge Hammer! and Police Squad!” it’s so in line with their comedic sensibilities.
The series looks at hard-as-diamond-nails LA cop—yeah, this show doesn’t take place in New York—Angie Tribeca, with Rashida Jones playing the eponymous law enforcer. It’s kind of remarkable seeing how naturally Rashida takes to the broad, slapstick comedy that is demanded of her here. It’s a side to the actress that was largely hidden on her many years on Parks and Recreation, and it’s clear that she loves this material as much as the Carells must. Even if you’re only lukewarm about Rashida, it’s very much in your best efforts to check out Angie Tribeca. She gets to show off more of her versatility in the pilot alone than she has in a lot of other projects. It also doesn’t hurt that the series has a strong core cast to it, while already accumulating an impressive roster of guest talents including people like Adam Scott, James Franco, and Bill Murray.
The cold open of the episode for instance shows Angie going through her standard morning wake-up and workout routine, and right from the start everything is cranked up to the extreme. Not only is the tone effectively set here, but it also acts as a nice distillation of the show as a whole. Literally every scene lampoons a different cliché, whether it’s an absolutely unnecessary parkour chase sequence or a ridiculous nude model undercover mission. While this can create an awed bewilderment over everything that’s going on, it can also cause a disconnected feeling at times. This is by no means an overwhelming feeling, but merely something for the series to be cautious of in the future. There were times where it felt like the order of scenes could have largely seen shuffling with little consequence. The caliber of the comedy is enough to look past these tiny misgivings. The fact that the series is never acknowledging the humor in any of this is also the right angle for it to take.
With gags like visible stunt men, constant punnery, the force’s police dog (who seriously steals the show and is the greatest thing ever), and a clear knowledge of the litany of Law and Order and CSI’s stylistic flares, Angie Tribeca’s humor is not in question. What is suspect though is if the series will be able to maintain this insane momentum. Pulling it off for a pilot is one thing, but a series is very different. Police Squad! largely sees reverence due to its insanity, but lest we forget that it also only had six episodes. Who knows how long it could have kept moving at that clip?
Angie Tribeca’s plan to beat this burnout (and they’ve already been given a second season, so it’s encouraging that they have one) is to focus on the tone, relationships, and the complexity of it all for depth. Admittedly the relationships are thin and mostly played for laughs in the pilot, but this direction moving forward is a sound plan. Hayes MacArthur who plays Angie’s partner saw promotion to a series regular shortly after shooting the pilot, which goes along with this mandate. The original plan was for Angie to see a revolving door of new partners every week. This concept has promise, but again, how do you keep that interesting twenty episodes in? Sticking with one person for Angie to bounce off of makes a lot more sense.
Angie Tribeca embraces its uniqueness and might be a tough pill to swallow for some people. It couldn’t be more different than its contemporary of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and if this sort of Zucker-inspired humor is up your alley then you’re likely going to adore every second of this. TBS is taking a leap here, which will hopefully lead to only more promising things for the network.
And if Angie Tribeca fails to connect with audiences, maybe we’ll end up seeing it turn into a successful movie franchise.
Angie Tribeca begins airing January 17th ay 9pm on TBS, in a bizarre 25-hour marathon that will repeatedly air the entire ten-episode season. The second season will begin the following week, airing one at a time.