After a break of more than a year, Comedy Central’s “Review” is back for its final season March 16, and as this exclusive trailer shows, star Forrest MacNeil hasn’t learned much.
One principle of fictional storytelling is that characters generally should exhibit some kind of growth or evolution during the course of the tale in question. But Forrest, who is played by “Review” creator Andy Daly, and who reviews experiences suggested by his viewers, has kept re-committing to the same misguided beliefs that have gotten him into trouble since the hilariously deft show began.
Forrest’s obliviousness is “a form of optimism,” according to Daly. “One thing that always makes me laugh about Forrest is that so often, he will get an assignment and receive it as good news and head out into the world like, ‘This is finally going to be the one that ends up being a totally positive experience!’ And it never seems to dawn on him that that doesn’t happen. One way or another, either through his own incompetence or just the cruelty of the world, he’s going to end up being laid low by everything he takes on. But he doesn’t seem to ever realize that that’s going to happen, or the extent to which it has happened.”
Forrest’s hapless and unfounded optimism has remained constant through “Review’s” three seasons, which have taken on the quality of tragedy even as they become funnier and funnier.
“There is a moment — I think it’s in the sixth episode of the first season — where [co-host] A.J. says to him, ‘I’m starting to think nothing will ever turn out well for you.’ And his response is, ‘What are you talking about? Like that’s an insane thing to say,” Daly says.
Having survived the harrowing yet hysterical events of the end of Season Two — when Forrest and his evil producer Grant (James Urbaniak) fell off a bridge during a confrontation — in the very dark and funny new episodes, the TV host is more persistent and blinkered than ever.
“Now it’s a religious mission,” Daly says. In Forrest’s mind, “a miracle has spared him to go on doing this. He feels the hand of God behind him at all times, and that’s obviously a dangerous conviction.”
It’d be too much of a spoiler to give away whether Grant survived the fall off the bridge, but when I said that the quietly Machiavellian producer reminded me of Trump advisor Steve Bannon, Daly agreed with that assessment.
He noted that when the final season was being written, “Review” executive producer Andy Blitz pitched the idea that “within the universe of ‘Review,’ Donald Trump is hosting a competing show where he’s reviewing what it’s like to run for president.” Perhaps it’s for the best that that storyline didn’t end up making it into the show; reality too often seems like an episode of “Review” as it is.
In any event, even if Forrest didn’t learn much, Daly did — sort of. He noted that making a season of “Review” is “a solid year of what feels like 24-hour days, seven-day-a-week decision-making for me. There was a certain moment when I was thinking about the larger themes of the show and realizing that it is a work/life balance story — it is a ‘get your priorities right’ story, one that I was ironically living out in my own way.”
Daly, who pops up often in shows like “Modern Family” and “Silicon Valley,” expressed a little relief that his life is less hectic now that the critically acclaimed “Review” has wrapped for good. But like Forrest, some part of him can’t quite resist the lure of an all-encompassing new project. He’s got a few new things in the works — though of course, he won’t be “taking arrows to the torso or endangering people’s lives” while he tries to get these projects off the ground.
“I just wrote an animated pilot for a show called ‘Dalton Wilcox and the Journeymen,’ and fans of my podcast will know what that’s all about.” Daly says. “It’s a character that I created for the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, and it was so much fun to write. I don’t know if anyone will ever want to put it on TV, but that’s out there. And there’s are couple of other ideas” in the hopper as well.
But his new projects may not come close to the making of “Review,” an experience that Daly gave “six stars.”
The final season of “Review” begins 10 p.m. March 16 on Comedy Central.