Saturday, March 17, 2007

Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot: Andy Barker PI

Andy Richter is one of the most underrated comedic actors working in television today. Since leaving his role as the sidekick on Late Night with Conan O'Brien he has starred in several situation comedies. Although none of these shows ever took off I never felt that it was the fault of Andy Richter. In his new show Andy Barker PI, Andy Richter re-teams with Conan O'Brien who serves as the shows co-creator and executive producer. The title character Andy Barker is a CPA who is mistaken by a Russian bombshell for retired private investigator Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell). Lew used to occupy Andy’s storefront office. The beautiful Russian offers Andy four thousand dollars to find her husband. Since he was not getting and any new accounting clients, Andy takes on the lady’s case with the help of his fellow strip mall neighbors Simon (Tony Hale) the video store clerk and Wally (Marshall Manesh) the overly patriotic Afghani restaurant owner. Although this is not the first time we see an accountant enamored with the life of a PI on TV (Remember Tenspeed and Brown Shoe?), the difference here is that Andy loves accounting. Andy Richter is at his best when he plays the mild mannered, good intentioned every man and this show is the best vehicle for Andy Richter since he left Conan's couch. Andy’s TV character is also perfectly paired with Clea Lewis as his wife Jen.

In the past I have expressed that I like single camera sitcoms and am really pleased that NBC's Must See Thursday is raising the bar with their comedies instead of just playing it for laughs. Andy Barker PI has the elements that I like in a comedy; good writing, good acting and most importantly it is funny. My big concern for the show is that the show is at risk of being predictable where Andy uses his accounting skills to solve the case with the help of his misfit friends. Fortunately, I Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot and speaking of the pilot you can watch it at - Andy Barker PI > Full Episodes and I don’t have to wait till the next week because that episode, and four more are also online.

In the next episode Fairway, My Lovely the Archives Clerk, Nicole (Nicole Randall Johnson) from the pilot, hires herself as Andy’s new assistant figuring that Andy owes her since he got her fired from her last job. The case involves the death of Andy's morbidly obese client Guy Halverson (Peter Allen Vogt) and Mrs. Halverson's insistence that her husband actually met with foul play. The episode was funny although I thought one running gag where all the women in the episode are enamored with the fat guy was a little over the top. Hopefully through the NBC web site the show can foster a solid fan base.

Andy is wholesome and does not use profanity so I will quote Andy Barker when things aren’t going right, "Ah, cheese 'n crackers".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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