Doing belated penance for David Spade's show, Comedy Central delivers a smart, wry mockumentary about local TV news with a gifted cast and rather dangerous improv element.
Doing belated penance for David Spade’s show, Comedy Central delivers a smart, wry mockumentary about local TV news — a form, admittedly, that almost defies parody — with a gifted cast and rather dangerous improv element. Producer Dan Mazur is a veteran of “Da Ali G Show,” and in similar fashion the fictional KHBX news crew actually interacts with unwitting real people, providing a clever (if at times uncomfortable) collision between fiction and reality.Casting is key to this sort of premise, with Andrea Savage — a breakout presence in Bravo’s too-short-lived “Significant Others” — playing Tillie, who returns to the local Spokane station where she worked as an intern. Now she’s a news producer on its morning show. The hire reunites her with correspondent Kevin (Matt Walsh of the “Upright Citizens Brigade”), who clearly hasn’t gotten over their brief fling during her prior stint. Hitting the road to cover stories, in the premiere they interview actual bodybuilders at a gym, where Kevin asks impertinent questions about steroids and gay sex. He then chides one heavily muscled fellow for not being able to keep curling enormous dumbbells as Kevin keeps flubbing the intro. At a certain point, you begin to wonder whether he’ll escape the gym with all his limbs, which is an “Ali G” staple. Rounding out the crew is a cameraman (Zach Galifianakis) who insists on using the bathroom everywhere they go and a production assistant (A.D. Miles) whom Kevin enlists in his efforts to make Tillie jealous. Let’s just say that moaning and pounding headboards do not always mean that raucous sex is occurring in the adjacent hotel room. Savage plays a vital role in making the premiere cook — sexy enough to be a convincing object of Kevin’s preoccupation but still goofy enough to fit into the improvised nonsense. That thread also gives the story a pulse beyond the broadcast news satire, which the target teen and young-adult audience, frankly, doesn’t even watch much anymore. Indeed, the title itself is perhaps a trifle obscure, assuming that viewers will recognize its vague reference to a non-news story. Strictly from a comedic perspective, though, the show exhibits some welcome bite, after a stretch where too many Comedy Central offerings along these lines have ill served the channel’s name by letting snarkiness wag the dog.