The workplace of Workaholics has been less and less central this season, and while it’s inevitable that a series branch out as it goes on, the guys’ adventures outside of TelAmeriCorp suggest that they need to, as Alice snaps at one point, get back on the phones. Partly, that’s because the show has seemingly abandoned some of its most reliably funny supporting characters—Montez? Jillian, anybody?—but also, removed from their workplace milieu, Blake, Ders, and Adam just aren’t as engaging as they (the characters and creators) think they are. At least when Workaholics was playing at being a naughty, scabrous antidote to The Office, it had an identity. Increasingly, the show throws the guys out into a situation where their natural comic charm is supposed to carry the day (“Now they’re clowns!” “This week, they sell weed with Karl!”)—only, left to their own devices and bereft of the structure the initial premise gave them, the guys often grow tiresome.
At least they do pop into work at the beginning and end of the episode, so we get a little bit of Alice, first seen interrupting the guys’ parking lot morning “bake and debate whether Morgan Freeman is God or actually Satan” session with an angry phone call to her veterinarian. Maribeth Monroe’s furious, heavy-lidded disgust with everyone and everything is always a treat when she shows up, and her delivery of the line, “She was supposed to have her nails clipped, and her anal glands expressed, and guess what pal—they weren’t,” is classic Alice, and makes me wish the guys had followed her back inside instead of ducking next door and finding that the dogfood company there is having a worker appreciation day—featuring go karts! Finding out that Alice, perhaps because the guys are so awful and stink of weed all the time, refuses to similarly, as Blake puts it, “employee appreciate us every once in a while,” they instead set out to claim a free massage chair they see advertised on the bulletin board.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of the guys just bailing on the office to engage in a destructive, madcap chase after something shiny (or, in this case leathery and vibrating). That’s essentially the plot of most Workaholics episodes anyway. It’s just that here, as has been the case much of this fourth season, there’s a definite sense of “who cares” to the proceedings, leading to a noisy, scattershot rampage of shouting, hurling things around, and action setpiece gags that don’t cohere into anything but intermittently amusing cacophony.
In some ways, the guys’ adventure here is intended to give the fans what they want. There’s plenty of riffing, lots of pop culture references, and ample opportunity for the guys to mess some shit up but, as they repeatedly turn on each other to try and claim the coveted massage chair for themselves, the incessant busyness of their actions comes off like a cobbled-together amalgam of clamorous improvs. Which would be less of a problem if they were funnier. There’s stuff to like, of course—Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm are undeniably funny guys. I appreciated that Adam’s only movie posters are from Shaquille O’Neal movies, and that Blake is able to configure a convincing compound fracture out of crazy bread as part of their chair heist due to his ongoing subscription to Fangoria. As I’ve said in the past, it’s not a bad thing for the guys to just screw around—especially when, as here, they don’t do too much damage to innocent people—but as with many of the episodes this season, all the shenanigans this time out are shrill and less amusing than intended. With a fifth season already ordered by Comedy Central, Workaholics looks already to be showing signs of exhaustion.
Take the gag halfway through the episode where it’s made clear that Blake actually performs oral sex on that pizza kid in order to get two raw pizzas and a lift to the chair-guy’s house. While its refreshing that the guys generally don’t exhibit much homophobia as a rule (see Adam and the transgender assistant in this season’s “Three And A Half Men,” for example), it seems out of nowhere that Blake—usually rather courtly and shy about sex—would propose, and carry out, such a mercenary sex act in service of such a silly quest. There’s nothing wrong with Blake sucking a guy’s cock*, if doing so weren’t in opposition to everything we know about the character. Throwaway gag though it may be, Blake’s act just smacks of carelessness. As in, “who cares?”
“Timechair” puts me in mind of the season three episode “Real Time,” wherein the guys, after realizing they’d left a series of very inappropriate drunken voicemails on Alice’s phone, have to race to work, still drunk, and intercept them before they get fired. “Timechair,” too, sees the guys on an anarchic race across town, but here there’s no unifying comic reason for the assorted jackassery, and so the whole thing is just a series of blaring bits where the guys smash into something, yell at each other, and do it again. It’s exhausting. (Plus, “Real Time” had plenty o’ Jillian.) I know that for some people, the spectacle of the guys racing stolen go karts while shouting Mario Kart catchphrases is just the thing—unfortunately, not being high while watching, and having seen the show do similar things so much better in the past, I was disappointed.
*People have rightly pointed out that the pizza kid is actually female. Apologies to the actress, and for my mistake in bleeped lip-reading skills. Blake still seems unlikely to do what he did, though.
- That’s Super Troopers’ Joey Kern as the McConaughey-esque chair delivery guy. I did like his offhand description of the accident scene to the 911 operator: “And then he just ran away. He just ran off…yeah, eatin’ his arm. It’s like in the movies… a zombie apocalypse. Yeah, exactly like that.”
- I do like when Blake forgets how to talk. “Check a load of this!”
- Adam, trying to convince the chair owner that he’s most deserving: “My butt is wildly clean!”
- Adam’s evidence for Morgan Freeman actually being Satan: pretty cool, wears earrings, bangs 19 year old chicks.
- The long, long bit (continued in the tag) about Adam’s pain noises sounding unnervingly like sex noises is emblematic of the show’s ongoing contention that anything Adam DeVine does is hilarious. In this case, that is incorrect.
- With the 18-wheeler chair crash and the Goo Goo Dolls, this episode must have been quite expensive.
- I know we do get some Bill in the episode. His baleful look and eerie little dance are genuinely unnerving.
- Bodily function count: none.