Turning an episode over to a minor character or two is a time-honored way for a show—particularly an aging show—to introduce a jolt of novelty. Depending on how minor a character we’re talking about, the results can be revelatory, showing the main characters’ lives in a new light, while giving some oft-unheralded side-characters a chance to strut their stuff.
And then, sometimes, it’s just an excuse for TelAmeriCorp “cubicle brothers” Bill and Tez to have karate fights and kill guys with electric eels, and for Adam, Blake, and Ders to show up in outlandish wigs and fake noses and vamp in fey German accents. Guess which one “Bill & Tez’s Sexcellent Sexventure” is?
Granted, it’s nice to see Billy Stevenson and Erik Griffin get to do more than their usual few lines. They’re both talented character actors and funny guys, and it must have been a pip for them to carry the bulk of an episode. Apart from their German interlude as the villains in Bill’s dream, Adam, Blake, and Ders only show up to mock perennial sad sack Bill at the beginning of the episode, and again when they bring the soundly sleeping Bill to explosive orgasm with the help of Tez’s personal massager and a rubber eraser. In between, Bill imagines himself as “The Transportationer,” his side-hustle made up of shady metal briefcases, elaborately unnecessary parkour, and the occasional round of eyebrow torture. Tez, sent along by Alice to return some borrowed night vision goggles to another TelAmeriCorp branch, fills the role of Bill’s bumbling, wisecracking sidekick, blurting out praise for Bill’s improbable prowess, and, from time to time, oversharing about his sex life with wife, Colleen. (Alex Borstein, only showing up as a picture on Tez’s phone.)
Not that we’re let in on the fact that we’re in Bill’s dream right away. The opening, where the guys cruelly make fun of Bill’s turtle tie and love of all turtles (a sea turtle once saved his life, according to dream-Bill) lets us hear Bill’s inner monologue, where he spits killer bon mots while he imagines graphically killing his tormentors. (Snapping back to himself, he responds in signature good-natured acceptance of the guys’ harsh treatment.) When he and Tez hit the road, the possibility remains (at least for a while) that their adventure is actually happening. Tez tells Bill about Colleen’s cuckolding fantasy, while we hear Bill sneering in his head about Tez not knowing the difference between “cuckolding” and “hotwifing” (and mocking Tez’s odd pronunciation of the former). You know, Workaholics business as usual. (Before cheerily wishing Tez luck in his search for the right third party, Bill boasts of his own superior kinkiness, his mercifully bleeped inner monologue telling us he eats… something.)
But once someone steals Bill’s case from the Chinese restaurant where Tez’s attempts to wheedle free food fall on deaf ears, things get awfully Jason Staham-esque, with a bald-capped stunt double scaling the sides of buildings and hauling the falling Tez up onto a roof by his head, and a sexy, exaggeratedly villainous Asian villainess (Deborah S. Craig) leaving her henchman to torture the pair to death. (He’s the one who ends up in the eel tank, but only after Bill bites off his nose.) Then there’s the showdown with the Germanic “Triad” (the guys, but there are three of them), who have knife-guns, and a sexy version of Colleen (Amanda Cerny, as the same lingerie model from Bill’s computer screen) is taken hostage but released just so Bill can have amazing sex in fulfillment of Tez and Colleen’s fantasy. (Stevenson keeps very unnerving eye contact with his captors while barely moving atop the gyrating woman.)
It’s a function of Workaholics’ occasional lapses into cartoonish, knockabout physical comedy that it’s not completely ruled out that we’re watching the actual adventures of The Transportationer and his sidekick Tez until we get a flash of Adam, Ders, and Blake fucking with the napping Bill back in his cubicle. And, even before we do (about 2/3 of the way in), it’s hard not to find those adventures a little tiresome. (There’s even an ad break cliffhanger after we know it’s all a dream.) Stevenson and Griffin are having fun, but for all Tez’s stated need to “bro down,” there has never been much chemistry between the two characters. And while watching Tez whip egg rolls at a fleeing briefcase thief and watching Bill snap off some Roger Moore-esque post-kill quips at the electric eel tank (“You see the look on his face? Total shock”), the episode just doesn’t have enough to it to justify an entire Bill-Tez “sexventure.” (Being offscreen for so long, Adam, Blake, and Ders spend a lot of time gabbling in their Triad guises. At least it seems like a long time.)
For an episode that begins with the guys belittling the well-meaning Bill for no reason, it’s tempting to overlook what an unlikeable creep Bill is under all that dead-eyed ineffectualness. Apart from ogling scantily clad women on his very public office computer, his fantasies are populated with over-the-top Asian stereotypes, and macho wish-fulfillment. And once Alice confronts him (after the guys have gigglingly brought him to completion), Bill, ejaculate staining his slacks, fixes her with a leer and a finger-gun, indicating that Bill has just as many creepy woman issues as dream-Bill. Bill’s humiliation here does spotlight the constant misery of working in the guys’ orbit (it also makes them seem more dickish than usual), but there are simply not enough laughs, or enough empathy, to make this digression memorable.
- Blake, mocking Bill’s neckwear: “That’s not a tie, that’s a loss.”
- Even as The Transportationer, Bill’s imagination remains trapped in TelAmeriCorp: “You’ll never get that open. I ordered it special from Office Max!”
- Dream-Bill is transporting exotic turtle eggs the Triad wants for their super-boner properties. Speaking of their upcoming orgy, Triad-Ders claims Jamie Foxx is a hard yes.