Sunday, May 18, 2014
Sunday Best: TV Sitcoms of All Time #24 - Andy Barker PI
1 Season (2007)
Some shows never truly get off the ground and given the chance to really take off. Andy Barker PI is one of them.
The premise of the show was very simple: an average, ordinary accountant named Andy Barker (Andy Richter) is drawn away from his boring life into a strange world of modern day noir.
The show was pure silliness. This was a show that embraced its strangeness from the beginning and did not look back. That also may have been its downfall. As I've found with people's reactions to Monty Python, they either get it or they don't.
Harve Presnell was fantastic as a the tough-as-nails former PI who dispenses wisdom and insanity, often at the same time. Arrested Development alumni Tony Hale also brings the funny as the wayward manager of a video store who is so bored that he accompanies Andy on his adventures.
TV THRESHOLD and BEST EPISODE
After the first episode I was hooked. The humor was so strange and yet so relatable. When trying to describe to his cautious wife how much being a PI excited him he says, "You know that feeling when you press the equal sign on the calculator and the number on it is the same as the number on the spread sheet… it felt like that!" Presnell particularly offers some lines that are both funny and quasi vulgar ("Back in my day we used to kick the brown bread out of some Commies…")
JUMPING THE SHARK
The show only ran 6 episodes, so it is one of the few shows that never got a chance to collapse in on itself. It never got a chance to play out its concept. It was always able to play up both Andy's earnestness, intelligence, and naivitee all at the same time without it straining credulity. It could still work all of those angles into the jokes. My favorite gag was during a car chase where Andy and Simon (Hale) being followed and have this exchange:
Andy: I can't lose this guy!
Simon: That's 'cause you keep signaling!
I laughed so hard because it was such a silly yet understandable mistake for someone who spent their whole lives following the rules.
This post is shorter than most will be because of the length of the series. The show never got a chance to lose its luster. And that is the reason it the #24 sitcom of all time.