Friday, July 7, 2017

My Top Ten "Review" Reviews

Comedy Central's "Review" ended recently with a three-episode third season to wrap up the show. In lieu of doing a season review, which I normally would, I thought it would be more appropriate to do a Top Ten list of my favorite reviews from the whole series. There are some spoilers ahead, especially for the first season, but I've tried to sidestep the major ones that happen later on.

Entries are unranked and ordered below by airdate.

"Divorce," and "Eating 30 Pancakes" - These two reviews are inextricably linked together by the episode that contains both of them, along with the introductory "Eating 15 Pancakes." However, the first review was really only the set-up to the other two, where we learn how far Forrest MacNeil is willing to go in order to do his job, and the amount of self-harm he's willing to endure. Forrest's grim soul searching being mirrored by his horrific consumption of breakfast food is one of the most brilliant endings to any episode of a comedy that I've ever seen.

"Being Batman" - We've all dreamed of being a superhero, but what should be a lark for Forrest turns into a nightmare when he has to maintain the Caped Crusader persona while attending his custody hearing. Following the fallout from the previous week's "Divorce," Forrest continues to let his dedication to the job screw up his life in more and more alarming ways. Also, I just love how terrible that Batman costume is.

"There All is Aching" - A short review, but definitely one of my favorites because it is such a great example of the absurd lengths that Forrest will go to in order to fulfill any review request, and the twisted logic he often employs in interpreting them. When confronted with a nonsensical review request, Forrest nonetheless throws himself into the task, going on an existential journey to try and find meaning in the meaningless.

"Leading a Cult" - Forrest becomes a cult leader, creating a system of worship based around his own philosophies in life, including a catchy five star rating chant. The visual gags in this one are great, especially all the nerdy science fiction references and Forrest's followers emulating his dorky dress sense. Alas, it can't last. As with the best of cults, the whole thing ends in betrayal and property damage. Just like model airplane club.

"William Tell" - While I enjoy the father-son relationships getting some more attention, this review is here mainly for the ending, which allows Andy Daly to engage in the kind of wild physical comedy that the show seemed eager to work into any situation. After all, "Review" is really all about watching Forrest MacNeil torture himself - spiritually, mentally, and definitely physically. And this review is definitely all about physical pain.

"Rating Something Six Stars" - I like the reviews where the show gets self-referential and messes with its own format. Here, Forrest has to get creative in order to break the rules of his own star ratings system, and winds up creating entirely different review shows within review shows to get the desired result. And, of course, he's constantly foiled by his own insane integrity to the entirely arbitrary standards. I rate this review ten stars!

"Magic Eight Ball" - Essentially the whole of "Review" in miniature. Forrest puts himself at the mercy of completely random fate, much as he does with his reviews every week. Following the commands on a Magic Eight Ball is fun at first, but of course it ends up negatively impacting Forrest's personal life, then his personal safety. Daly's performance really kills me here, the increasing desperation, the antagonizing of the toy, and finally, defeat.

"Eating a Locorito" - I love the disgusting turns that this one takes, and how Forrest chooses the worst possible way to fulfill the review request. Of course they manage to track down a hoarder who hangs on to discontinued food items. Of course. It also eases us back into the universe of "Review" after the extended hiatus, picking up old plot threads and assuring the audience that Forrest's personal troubles were far from over.

"Last Review" - Well, technically the last two reviews, which together close out the show and give "Review" a fitting ending. I don't want to spoil anything, but of all the potential ways that "Review" could have gone out, this is one that I didn't see coming. However, it's a very fitting ultimate fate for Forrest MacNeil.


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