October 22, 2017

The rebirth of silly: it’s raining bullets and puns in new US squad comedy “Angie Tribeca”

“Go get them, Angie Tribeca!” shouts the bloke at the end of a long queue of handymen (while admiringly glancing at her derriere – or was that just me?) waiting outside Tribeca’s apartment, which she has just trashed during her vigorous early morning exercise routine, starting at 4.45am sharpish. Detective Angie Tribeca (Rashida Jones) is a go getter, a tough cookie, a super-cop who doesn’t take no for an answer and has relationships issues (as do all lone wolves in the world of comedy crime fighting).

“Angie Tribeca” is the new cop comedy show on E4 and – in line with the channel’s previous US imports – is as breezy and brash as its successors “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Big Bang Theory”. It seems, the limping squad comedy genre has just had a double hip replacement. First the raving lunatics around Andy Samberg in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (which already has three successful seasons and two awards under its police belt) pop up on the small screen and now “Angie Tribeca” – a show that leaves no stone unturned in the world of silliness.

Angie_Tribeca

Written very much in the spirit of the 1982 US TV series “Police Squad” it carries a certain Eighties retro vibe, just like “Police Squad” took countless queues from 1960’s cop dramas. As such it is comedy marmite – you either love it or, well you know what I mean. While I (mostly) giggled throughout the rapid gunfire of (sometimes bad) puns I could, equally rapidly, second-guess punchlines since the comedic ethos of the series (as I already said, borrowed heavily from “Police Squad” creators David Zucker and Jerry and Jim Abrahams) is strictly formulaic. If you are more inclined towards comedy shows that thrive on the element of surprise like “The Office” or if you take yourself too seriously, “Angie Tribeca” won’t work for you but it most certainly works for the lead Rashida Jones (daughter of media mogul Quincy Jones). Unfortunately, Jones never got the chance to shine in “Parks in Recreation” since she was overshadowed by stronger characters but she jumped effortlessly from her role as the lovable Ann Perkins in “Parks” into the gung-ho world of police parody.

Created by Steve Carell (David Brent’s equivalent, Michael Scott, in the US version of ‘The Office’) and his wife Nancy Walls Carell, the show is crammed with cartoonish characters, such as the police officer vomiting at every crime scene, the shouty Lieutenant Chet Atkins (Jere Burns) who is according to his own admission “tough but fair”, the surreal Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Edelweiss (Alfred Molina), who gets bogged down by a different fake injury in every episode, and the cop who is really a dog (or is it the other way round?).

Despite Detective Tribeca’s misleading surname, the series is set in Los Angeles featuring the cases of the RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit), where the LAPD’s finest spend their days cracking running gags, titty-twisting or repeating catch phrases like “All due respect” or “Let’s just say”. When Tribeca is newly partnered with detective Jay Geils – (Hayes MacArthur) love is in the air (and “Centerfold” in your ears…). It’s obvious really, like pretty much everything else in the show but that doesn’t make it any less charming, surreal and super-silly.

The pair’s first case involves compromising pictures of the LA mayor’s naked body that is covered in hilarious tattoos like “My wife gives good headaches”. Needless to say that Tribeca gets straight down to the nitty-gritty and the culprit is swiftly brought to justice. Despite the fact that Angie “rents” beer instead of drinking it her new partner asks her out on a date only to fall down the elevator shaft shortly after.

It’s too early to say whether “Angie Tribeca” has the makings of a cult show but it seems the creators sure as hell have such lofty ambitions.

by Frank H Diebel

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