Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret 1.1 ‘In Which Claims Are Made and a Journey Ensues’

“Hey asshole, I make one call to your boss and you’re gonna sell shit-berries in an Uzbek bus station.” – Brent Wilts

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is a transatlantic fish out of water comedy which sees David Cross as the titular character stumble from bad situation to another.

Through a misunderstanding (he was practicing self-help tapes rather than actually being assertive) asshole executive Brent Wilts (played with profane delight by Will Arnett) promotes loser Todd Margaret to head up sales of Far Eastern energy drink Thunder Muscle in London.

There Cross gets to act very un-Cross like as a loser who just gets repeatedly shat on. I have to say, I prefer Cross in more edgy roles than this, yes Tobias in Arrested Development was a loser but he was a bizarrely interesting loser. There is nothing really interesting about Todd Margaret and that’s a disappointment because Cross is renowned for his dark humour.

The show still has some decent laughs though, mainly coming from the scenery-chewing Arnett who literally steals the show. Sure he may be playing Devon Banks (his 30 Rock character) on crack but this is the sort of smarmy asshole Arnett always plays and always plays well.

Rounding out the cast are Brits Sharon Horgan and Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners). Horgan, who I used to dislike after her part in the dire original incarnation of The Friday Night Project but who I have now grown to like and find quite sexy in a strange way, plays Alice a friendly café owner who takes pity on Todd. Harrison plays Todd’s only employee, the dopey and immature Dave, essentially channelling the role Harrison plays on The Inbetweeners.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is never going to win any awards, but it has enough laughs to keep you coming back. This first episode breezed by and in no way outstayed its welcome.

There is plenty of potential there for fish out of water type laughs with Margaret, of which the surface was only scratched in episode one – Todd misunderstanding the meaning of the word “fag”.

Hopefully Arnett will appear to yell and scream genius one-liners at Todd in every episode because judging from the pilot he is the best thing in the show. Cross might not be at his best here but he still flexed his rather large comedy muscles in a memorable scene where he downed three of the Thunder Muscle drinks and went a bit loco in Alice’s café, much to Dave’s amusement.

The episode opened with Todd in court charged with a ridiculous list of crimes before we were sent back 14 days to him worming his way into the promotion that saw him shipped off to England, if this is how each episode opens it will at least be a novel way of doing things as the intrigue of how Todd came to be charged with such heinous crimes will be increased.

All in all, nowhere near the strongest comedy on TV but a fine little show that will no doubt attract a cult fan base.

Bullet Points:

- Cross is brilliant at playing loathsome characters but shouldn’t we be feeling sorry for Todd Margaret? If that is in fact the case, they didn’t do a very good job of conveying that in this episode. The fact he basically left his cat to die in its own filth isn’t really the best way of instilling compassion in a viewer.

- Whoever’s idea it was to have Cross and Arnett share a screen it wasn’t a good one, no matter how brilliant they both are; the last thing any comedy needs is comparisons to the peerless Arrested Development, let alone a freshman one that is somewhat lacking in A.D.’s unparalleled quality.

- If the bomb disposal officer who destroys Todd’s inexplicably large suitcase looked familiar, that’s because he was played by Kayvan Novak, the man behind the laugh-less Fone & Facejacker shows.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret continues Sunday @ 10.35pm on More4


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