TV Review: Comedy Central’s ‘Another Period’

Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome, Lauren Ash, Michael Ian Black, Paget Brewster, Beth Dover, Brett Gelman, Christina Hendricks, Brian Huskey, David Koechner, Jason Ritter, David Wain, Armen Weitzman

There’s an inherent developmental disconnect in “Another Period,” a Comedy Central series that seeks to spoof programs like “Downton Abbey,” laboring to find the elusive sweet spot between a knowing send-up for those who watch such fare and a farcical take-down for those who wouldn’t be caught dead doing so. Series creators/stars Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome have certainly attracted a first-rate cast to assist with the silliness, only to settle for the below-the-belt aspects of turn-of-the-century mores. There are amusing moments, but the conceit ultimately seems better suited to a “Saturday Night Live” sketch than another series. Period.

Set in Newport, R.I. in 1902, the show focuses on the Bellacourts, a filthy rich family vastly outnumbered by their doting servants, whom they generally treat like furniture. Indeed, a sexual tryst is dragged out as the two upper-crust participants wait for their butlers and maids, silently standing watch, to gradually undress them; while Leggero’s spoiled ingenue, Lillian, rings a bell every time she wants a bite of food, opening her mouth as if this were the hospital scene in “A Clockwork Orange.”

Sister Beatrice (Lindhome, half of IFC’s “Garfunkel and Oates”) is equally pampered and vacuous, and both seem blissfully unaware that their husbands are not-so-secretly having an affair with each other. As for that attractive new maid (“Mad Men’s” Christina Hendricks), the sisters decide remembering what to call her is too difficult, and simply rename her “Chair.”

Produced by Ben Stiller’s company (which recently delivered the refreshingly inventive “Big Time In Hollywood, FL” to Comedy Central), and directed by “Drunk History’s” Jeremy Konner, “Another Period” has loaded up on talent, including Hendricks, Paget Brewster and David Koechner as the sisters’ parents, Michael Ian Black as the snooty butler, and Jason Ritter as the taboo object of Beatrice’s affection.

Everyone seems to be having a good time playing dress-up, but it’s a struggle to consistently share in the mirth, in part because so many of the gags hinge on cheap sex jokes. By itself that’s hardly an indictment in this context, but the occasional reach for something possessing a bit more flair — say, a visit from Helen Keller — usually doesn’t go much of anywhere, making this “Period” feel more crass than clever. The same pattern applies to the second episode, in which Lillian hears of something called a divorce, and begins to undergo various contortions in the hope of getting one.

It’s too bad, since there’s more promise in the idea, and scale in the execution, than many of the live-action projects Comedy Central undertakes. Yet the series, well positioned behind “Inside Amy Schumer,” more than anything plays like one of the network’s naughty cartoons.

Granted, Mel Brooks did pretty well for himself delivering spoofs of popular movie genres, but this attempt to transfer the process to TV — in much the way IFC’s “The Spoils of Babylon” satirized soapy miniseries — feels less like “Young Frankenstein,” and more like “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” Or, actually, women in ball gowns.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: Comedy Central's 'Another Period'

(Series; Comedy Central, Tues. June 23, 10:30 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Leggero Lindhome Prods., Red Hour and Konner Prods.

Crew: Executive Producers, Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome, Jeremy Konner, Ben Stiller, Debbie Liebling, Stuart Cornfeld, Mike Rosenstein; director, Konner; writers, Leggero, Lindhome; supervising producer, Moshe Kasher; producers, Inman Young, Jonathan Shoemaker; camera, Carl Herse; production designer, Justin Lieb; editors, Kevin Oeser, Kyle Reiter; music, Eban Schletter; casting, Melissa DeLizia. 30 MIN.

Cast: Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome, Lauren Ash, Michael Ian Black, Paget Brewster, Beth Dover, Brett Gelman, Christina Hendricks, Brian Huskey, David Koechner, Jason Ritter, David Wain, Armen Weitzman

More TV

  • Atmosphere71st Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations Announcement,

    How to Watch the 2019 Emmy Awards Online

    The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards won’t be one to miss. Whether you’re a “Killing Eve” fan eager to see co-stars Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer face off in the same category, a “Veep” enthusiast excited to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus potentially nab the honor of most Emmy wins of any performer in history, or a “Game [...]

  • Actor Aron Eisenberg during the Creation

    'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' Actor Aron Eisenberg Dies at 50

    “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” actor Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog in the 1990s series, died Saturday. He was 50. His character Nog, who appeared for all seven seasons, was a member of the alien race Ferengi, and joined Starfleet after a recommendation from Captain Sisko. Eisenberg returned for a guest spot on “Star Trek: [...]

  • ALL RISE -- A drama that

    TV Review: 'All Rise' Starring Simone Missick

    Finding a new way to do a legal procedural is such a difficult prospect at this point that it would be hard to blame TV for giving up entirely and just going on autopilot. “All Rise,” however, both indulges the basics of the genre and finds some refreshing ways to twist them into slightly new, [...]

  • An Emmy statue stands outside the

    Expect High Heat and Traffic for Emmys Sunday

    If you work in TV, are a fan of TV, or are in fact a TV yourself, the 71st Primetime Emmys promise to be a treat. Television’s biggest awards show takes place in Los Angeles on Sunday night, with some of Hollywood’s brightest stars set to appear as the entertainment community honors the best of [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun

    Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun Rights

    Viacom has sealed a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the cable rights to “Seinfeld” starting in October 2021. The deal comes on the heels of a blockbuster new deal between Sony and Netflix for the streaming rights to the beloved NBC sitcom that also begins in 2021. “Seinfeld” reruns have been a staple of [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content