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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

NTSF: SD: SUV::: “TGI Murders”

Illustration for article titled NTSF: SD: SUV::: “TGI Murders”
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I can’t be the only one who eventually gets tired when NTSF deviates from its bread-and-butter of investigative action procedurals over and over again. This cast is talented enough to sell almost any direction the show goes in, and Paul Scheer’s script is again throwing joke after joke at the screen. But  “TGI Murders” is a haphazard Frankenstein of bar and restaurant references that still gets a lot of laughs while showing just how little Scheer cares to adhere to the action film and NCIS-esque procedural tropes that NTSF started with.

The President Of The Navy owns a San Diego chain restaurant, one of many “family-friendly, party-centric, sports-themed, large portion, affordable restaurant hot spots” in the area. And for the length of a short sketch, “TGI Murder” is a hilarious send-up of these sad excuses for restaurants. Any Chili’s, TGI Fridays, Applebees, Red Robin, Fuddruckers, or Buffalo Wild Wings contains something depicted in Tig Bittley’s, and Rob Riggle’s insistence that his establishment is somehow different and better than Señor Dick’s down the street makes it the best part of the episode.

Then Lance Reddick shows up, as the proprietor of the POTN’s competition, and throws down the gauntlet for chain sit-down restaurant supremacy. The NTSF crew has to keep Tig Bittley’s afloat until the POTN gets back on his feet, so the episode breaks into several small restaurant plots. Having seen Road House for the first time with a group of friends a few months ago, my favorite bit was Trent’s backstory as a cooler with a lethal bouncing move that he once accidentally used on a dog, because when “you put sunglasses on anything, it looks human.” His attempt to explain his nonsensical lessons to a team of bouncers (including Tommy Lister, from The Fifth Element and The Dark Knight) works Trent’s incompetent bravado into a setting with incredibly low stakes.

A slight Coyote Ugly homage with Daisy and Piper didn’t really find its footing aside from the one moment when Daisy’s father shows up and says she’s finally making him proud—but the bar dancing didn’t go anywhere other than that one joke. There’s a lot of comedy to be mined from that ridiculous film. Alphonse continually fending off Kathryn Hahn’s advances contrasts with Daisy and Piper, where the disappointing joke only amounts to a guy going through the same kind of harassment female servers endure. This is an angle Amy Schumer did on her show a few months ago, only it was funnier and more incisive in less time.

All the short plots scattered the episode too much, keeping it away from the Road House parody that continued the best idea within the episode. NTSF gets distracted by putting its characters into parallel parodies that keep the cast apart instead of working together in one larger comedy team. Cast availability seems to be an issue, as Martin Starr and Kate Mulgrew are absent this week. (It would’ve been a great crossover opportunity for Kove to play the restaurant’s new chef sneaking in contraband.) There’s so much to skewer within the procedural genre, even in the subcategory of the little-known government agency. Branching out into episodes like this forces the characters to adapt to more everyday situations with heightened motivation, but when it strays too far and doesn’t stay focused on the parody outside the action genre, NTSF falters just a bit.

Stray observations:     

  • The difference between Tig Bittley’s and Señor Dick’s? More sombreros.
  • Piper surveys the damage. “Savages… turned over the nachos.”
  • Trent turns down the offer to join the enemy. “I don’t do that anymore.” “…But you’re doing it now.”