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Review of 'Review' positive

By Brendon Field
On March 30, 2014

"Review" stars comedian Andy Daly as Forrest MacNeil, a professional critic who prefers to review parts of the human experience rather than music or movies. He hosts a television series where viewers request what they want him to torture himself with, and he accepts, no matter what. So far this includes becoming addicted to cocaine, going to prom, and divorcing his wife. After a misadventure, MacNeil will return to his studio to rate the experience on a five star scale, and half a star seems to be the most common result.
Conceptually, "Review" sounds perfect for a recurring segment on a sketch program or a mini-show that gets played during three minute gaps in programming, but it adapts itself to the half hour format quite well. Each episode is divided into two or three segments, but they do interconnect, and character arcs play out over multiple episodes. In the most recent episode, MacNeil is assigned to have sex with a celebrity, but after failing miserably and spending $70,000 to go on a date with Ashley Tisdale, he takes on his next task of being Batman with apathy and defeat.
The critical element of the show is Daly himself, who succeeds in being both the straight man and the bombastic wild card. He (as MacNeil) begins the show with the rigid determination we've come to expect from TV documentarians, but he is quickly revealed to be naïve, desperate and for some reason beyond all principles of sense-way too in love with his job. He also seems to completely lack self-awareness and awareness of the obvious exploitation coming from his fans. The character draws some similarities with Michael Scott from "The Office," and Daly's swings from cringe-worthy awkwardness to extreme silliness are as smooth as Steve Carell's. But the show and its humor aren't completely centered on MacNeil. Frequent and funny appearances from his ex-wife and son, as well as his production crew, give the show some needed balance.
"Review" also is in interesting spin on the mockumentary sitcom. One of the few to favor a smaller cast with one standout character, it's hard to call any of it cliché. The moving camera allows for visual humor in the background, the editing is tight and MacNeil's narration provides for strong ironic setups.
With writing on the level of other recent gems on Comedy Central such as "Workaholics" and "Broad City," "Review" definitely has the humor to keep viewers interested. And with a seemingly endless amount of subject matter for MacNeil to endanger himself with, it looks to have the mileage as well.

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