“Hey, if you’re gonna lose your mind every time you fall into a coma and I abandon you for another woman who then raises your baby thinking it’s my Canadian love child, it’s gonna be a long second season.”
Welcome to TV Club’s weekly coverage of Angie Tribeca season two! It’s a new day—yes it is—and as the show approaches things differently this season, said approach has created the perfect opportunity for coverage. In his pre-air review of the first season, Erik Adams pointed out how Angie Tribeca took its obvious parody influences (Police Squad! being the most obvious) and proceeded to “keep things traditional” in terms its own interpretation of them. He contrasted that to the way that shows like Childrens Hospital, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp, and NTSF: SD: SUV:: did approached the style, as they chose “to amplify the conventions of their chosen genres to surrealistic extremes.” In theory, the traditional approach makes sense given Angie Tribeca’s major source material, the by-the-numbers procedurals that play it safe and go back-to-basics every single week.
But Angie Tribeca has so much that it can mock and crib from, it doesn’t need to just “keep things traditional.” Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has had 17 seasons and is going for its 18th. And you can’t tell me there isn’t at least a Cop Rock episode kicking around the writers room idea bin. It’s basically something Childrens Hospital (may it rest in peace) definitely understood in its seven seasons and something Angie Tribeca barely scratched the surface of in its first season. Fastforward a few months though, and this second season looks like it really knows what it wants, and that sense of direction is probably the best decision it’s made outside of the casting.
That’s because this particular season has decided to tackle the concept of the moodier crime show, the “prestige television” approach to genre. The True Detective route, if you will. And in doing so, that that means it’s going the serialized route. It’s a concept that doesn’t quite sound natural for the Angie Tribeca of the first season, but in these first two episodes, it’s pretty clear that this is a very good look for the show. And not just because it’s dimmed all the lights to create that moody ambiance.
We even get a “previously on Angie Tribeca” (and not just as an epilogue like in one of last season’s episode) to go with the show’s new serialized nature. Of course, that doesn’t mean the show becomes highly logical. After last season’s explosive (literally, no pun intended) cliffhanger in the house of Wilson Phillips (Ryan Hansen), this season doesn’t quite begin where it left off, but it still has the visual of Rashida Jones wearing nothing but a bomb vest, so logic (and Geils) immediately flies out the window. The year-long coma and subsequent baby Angie (not actually spawned by “some chick from Canada”) are just the icing on the cake.
“Monica, how many times do I have to tell you: I’m in love with Tribeca, but I’m dating you. And nothing in the foreseeable future’s gonna change that. I am head over heels, 100% settling for you.”
As far as a premiere and an introduction to the new attitude of Angie Tribeca go, “Fleas Don’t Kill Me” really gets the job done. The new, “serious” theme song—farewell, Screaming Cop—doesn’t quite work with the images in the opening titles, but at the same time, that incongruity makes it even funnier. Especially when you’re binge-watching the show, which this turn to serialization fits even better. The new love triangle of Tribeca/Geils/Scholls is also perfect for this situation, as it makes all the lame subtext that would usually go into this type of storyline text, plain and simple. There is no subtext in the character actions in Angie Tribeca and that’s one of the best things about it.
Plus, Angie’s over-the-top and gritty addiction as a result of her coma and now very messed-up life is the type of thing that reminds the audience that this is a show that isn’t just good at being wacky—it’s one that’s aware of the genre it’s making light of. And that’s why Sgt. Pepper (James Franco) is back from the “dead” as the mystery of the season. “Miso Dead,” on the other hand, really nails the newfound rivalry between Tribeca and Scholls, especially putting the latter’s deadpan to great use. It also makes it abundantly clear just how ridiculous it is that Tribeca and Scholls have issues with each other when Geils is the only one they should have issues with (and clearly don’t). Season one introduced all these characters with no real personal relationships with each other outside of Tribeca/Geils’ will they-won’t they, and the change in dynamic this season is really a welcome one to shake things up.
As far as the murder cases go in both episodes, “Fleas Don’t Kill Me” is more a fully-realized case than “Miso Dead.” In fact, the latter episode even addresses that with Geils’ acknowledgement about “the part that never made sense to” him. With the former, even a bit that doesn’t quite land as well as the others—the dog trainer’s (Vicki Lewis) behavior with Tanner in interrogation—actually ends up working in the long run with the reveal of her human dog sex training. It also makes “human dog sex training” something worth mentioning on a Monday night. “Miso Dead,” though, ticks the box of every procedurals’ need to look into the shady world of anything Asian (and sadly gains a bit of the usual “weakness” of this type of episode). In this world, it’s sushi.
“Miso Dead” also has the bonus of Busy Phillips as one of the show’s high-profile guest stars with her beautifully obnoxious Courtney Woodpatch-Newton—a more put-together, spiritual relative of the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party—coming in and out of the episode like the comedic whirlwind that she is. Then again, Jon Hamm’s few seconds onscreen in “Fleas Don’t Kill Me” is the epitome of Angie Tribeca’s love of impressing the audience with its guest star list and the way it uses said list in the smallest ways possible. It’s both amusing and a little frustrating. Then again, there’s no rule that says an actor on a farcical cop sitcom can’t play another character.
Really, it’s all about the gags. Angie Tribeca is such a richly-detailed, visual show, which is why no matter how “dumb” the cast and crew call it (in the best way possible), it’s not one of those “turn off your brain” TV shows. There is an intelligence and skillset in creating competent stupidity, and Angie Tribeca knows that. So when I was thinking about how to approach criticism of the show (something I’m still thinking about), I kept coming back to the images that really stuck out. So I just decided to screencap them:
On a typical great sitcom, it’s difficult to point out every joke. On an atypical one like Angie Tribeca? Well I’m sure there’s a blog that’s worth making about that. And hopefully that blog is just a picture of a suspended Hoffman in every other post.
Basically, this new attitude for Angie Tribeca isn’t taking away from what makes it a delightfully funny and weird show. In fact, it looks to only be improving it, as the show still manages to keep going so fast that you can almost miss amazing lines like: “Even though we only have her for manslaughter, I think we can get her on murder one.” It’s a crazy first day back, but there’s no other way Angie Tribeca could do things.
- Alison Rich plays Tanner’s temporary partner, Detective Small. And now she’s missing. Whoops.
- But who is this Heather, and why is her birthday so important?
- Also, leave it to Angie Tribeca to suspend its K9 detective in the episode where dogs are an important part of the case. The man is always trying to keep him down.
- Geils: “Hello, old friend.”
Kindly Old Woman: “Hello!” I’m somewhat disappointed the woman wasn’t credited as “Old Friend.”
- Dr. Edelweiss’ latest adventure (well, venture) is a vending machine in the coroner’s lab/gift shop, full of pills, booze, a noose, and pizza. Get that money, sir.
- Jane Dough: “But I did not kill him. I swear to God.”
Lieutenant Atkins: “God may believe you but you a jury won’t. Take her away. That may be the coolest thing I’ve ever said.” That “God may believe you” line is also possibly the most “prestige television” line of the two episodes.
- Scholls’ apartment-meet-coroner’s lab is honestly such a perfect set with an insane attention to detail. There are test tubes on the coffee table!
- Scholls: “Now that Tribeca’s awake, I suppose you want to leave me for her.”
Geils: “No, no, of course not. Besides, she has no feelings for me anymore.”
- Hi, Rhys Darby! Bye, Rhys Darby!
- Lieutenant Atkins: “What are these?”
Angie: “Newspapers, sir. That’s how people got their information until 2008.”
- Each sarcastic exchange in “Miso Dead” Angie and Scholls is fire, especially Geils’ absolute obliviousness to the tension.
- Thank you press shots: