In Comedy Central’s “Review,” which is currently in its second season, Forrest MacNeil (Andy Daly) is a critic who doesn’t review books or movies. Instead, he reviews life experiences. One episode might have him trying to eat 30 pancakes. Another will have him reviewing what it’s like to have road rage.
While every episode shows Forrest reviewing a different life experience, the show also maintains a complete story arc. Season one chronicled Forrest’s journey into insanity, as his quest to review life itself nearly destroyed his own.
“Review” co-creator and star Andy Daly tells Tech Insider this puts his show in a unique position at Comedy Central.
“It’s actually unusual … or at least it was at that time … for us to have insisted that the episodes air in order. Comedy Central, most of the time, with other shows, have leeway to say, ‘Your third episode is the strongest, let’s premiere with that one and you know, mix it up. But this was a show where we couldn’t do that. They had to air in order, otherwise they wouldn’t make sense and one was good and relates to the other and so on,” said Daly.
There is a big base of fans who are watching this show in other places besides live on Comedy Central. Many people could even just watch clips of the show on YouTube. And despite the fact this show has a consistent story, it surprisingly works really well in out-of-context clips.
This was no accident.
“One thing that they [Comedy Central] really tried to drill into us was to make sure that if a given segment ends up online for instance, that somebody won’t be completely lost in it. So that’s why you see we build in some exposition. We catch people up to speed. We’re always saying, ‘What if this is the only thing anybody ever saw?’ Let’s at least … it’s not that they’re not gonna feel like jumping into the middle of a story, but at least they will understand what came before.” Daly said.
For an example, here is the first review of season two, in which Forrest reviews what it’s like to get into a brawl:
For somebody who is new to the show, you get to experience one complete story. At the same time, this single review perfectly encapsulates the tone of the show, and how quickly it can escalate from light to dark. For those watching the episodes in full, they will get to see the continuation of Forrest’s relationship with the nurse (Allison Tolman) in the next review. They will also better understand Forrest’s relationship with the other recurring characters who drop in, but not knowing that won’t necessarily make the clip less funny.
Then, there are reviews like this, in which Forrest has to take on the inexplicable “There All Is Aching.” He doesn’t know what this means, but he will still tackle it anyway. By the end of the clip, Forrest is in shock therapy. This will probably shock both long time and new viewers:
In a way, “Review” is a form of sketch comedy in which individual sketches work alone, but are even better viewed as a whole. It is something even “Saturday Night Live” has never really taken a stab at. However, “Kroll Show,” which just ended its three season run on Comedy Central in March, followed a similar formula to great success.
For Daly, this is all about striking a balance between having an overall story arc and trying to get a big audience without losing people.
Daly also believes “Review” will have a long shelf life and even went as far as calling it “binge-worthy.”
“I think there are some shows that just give themselves the full on liberty of saying, ‘Yeah, if you jump in episode 5 you’re gonna be completely lost.’ There are lots of shows that do that, but I really particularly feel like we have that liberty, you know? Even after this season is done airing on Comedy Central it will live as a thing to be binge-watched, and I think it’s very binge-worthy. So, as much as you wanna catch people up to speed all the time, you can’t do it in a way that makes it impossible to binge watch it. It’s very much … you have to thread that needle.” Daly said.
“Review,” which is currently in its second season, airs on Comedy Central every Thursday at 10:30 p.m.
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