Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a funny David Cross sit-com with Will Arnett and Spike Jonze

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, B-

Todd Margaret sits handcuffed in a loud crowded courtroom, guarded by British police, as the judge reads his charges “[including] child endangerment, espionage, embezzlement, persistent public urination, [and] impersonating a gentleman.”

This describes the recurring opening for David Cross’s 2010 TV show The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a British sit-com featuring creator/star David Cross (Arrested Development) as Todd Margaret, an incapable temp who coincidentally is sent to head an international company’s brand-new London office to sell “Thunder Muscle,” a toxic energy drink. The show is as silly and unrealistic as it sounds, but still entertains. Todd is a complete imbecile, and this unfortunate characteristic leads to all kinds of over-the-top humor that will possibly give you a chuckle or two. The real laughs come from co-stars Will Arnett, known as the exceptionally funny "Job" from Arrested Development, and Spike Jonze, Oscar-nominated director of Adaptation. and Where the Wild Things Are, in a rare acting performance. Arnett hilariously plays Margaret’s foul-mouthed boss who won’t let anyone get a word in edgewise (much like an American version of Malcom from In the Loop) and Jonze plays Margaret’s awkward yet persistent former boss who is constantly being put down by Arnett’s character.

American viewers will be left a little behind, because there are many jokes about Margaret’s ignorance of British culture (Sainsbury’s?). The other major problem is there is little emotional attachment to the characters, especially Todd Margaret. I found myself  interested in supporting characters, and consequently frustrated at the minimal exposure granted to such characters. That being said, it’s still pretty good for a 20-minute comedy.

The six-episode first season aired on IFC in 2010 and is currently available on iTunes for $11 SD or $17 HD. If you are a fan of Cross and Arnett or are intrigued to see Jonze act, it is worth a try. The show returns on IFC in January 2012, adding actor Jon Hamm of Mad Men.

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