Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eventful

I caught the first two episodes of The Spoils Of Babylon, the six-part comedy miniseries on IFC produced by the folks at Funny Or Die.  The concept is intriguing--a send-up of a 1970s-style miniseries "event."

It's a big-name cast--as big as any of those 70s events were to begin with. You've got Will Ferrell, looking like Orson Welles, as Eric Jonrosh, author, producer and director of the series, introducing it while drinking a lot of wine in a restaurant booth.  The show itself stars Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins and many others in a  melodrama vaguely dealing with the oil industry (as far as I can tell--the story may be going in any direction).

While some of the humor hits, it's rather scattershot.  Some of it is making fun of the overacting of the players in their overheated plot, but sometimes the joke is on how cheap the whole "epic" looks, and sometimes it's just self-aware jokes (such as patriarch saying the country was built by hard-working hands, mostly African and Chinese).  I suppose with such a wide target you go for what you can, but I wonder if it might have worked better if it just went in one direction.

The acting is generally fine, with Tobey Maguire holding the center with the proper earnestness.  The idea isn't bad, though it reminds me vaguely of Fresno, a 1986 comedy miniseries that spoofed the prime time soaps of the day.

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