This week, Review returned to cover three more aspects of human existence, which meant another series of humiliations for Forrest MacNeil, television’s pluckiest failure. Whether being mauled by a tiger, spouting racist vitriol or humping what looks like “a beautiful dead lady,” Andy Daly has endowed MacNeil with an unwavering aplomb that makes Review fun to watch even at its most punishing. A similar, lesser show might mine these moments for their significant cringe factor, but Review is clearly more interested in exploring its delightfully oblivious protagonist than scoring cheap uncomfortable laughs.
It’s pretty telling that MacNeil’s family can’t distinguish between his regular eccentricities and the insane behavior he pursues for the show within the show (which they don’t seem to know about at all). This is man who is so closed off even he barely knows himself. We see this in the episode’s most pointed bit of social satire, when MacNeil’s attempt at a bigoted tirade ends up exposing his own casual suburban racism. “Like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense,” MacNeil discovers, “I was racist all along.”
One thing I noticed in “Sex Tape, Racist, Hunting” that I hadn’t in the first episode was the show’s love of language. Obviously, part of the joke is MacNeil’s overly clinical, faux-objective descriptions of his own life, but there’s also a real reverence on Review for the use and abuse of words. In what was probably the episode’s best joke, Daly adapts “Who’s on First?” into a routine about racially segregated copy machines, resulting in the hilarious and bizarre line “don’t use the ‘colored’ copier, the ‘white’ copier is better anyway—it makes color copies.”
Unfortunately, unlike last week, we didn’t get to see any advancement in the Job-like story arc that makes Review stand out among TV’s many comedies. Where “Stealing, Addiction, Prom” brought together its seemingly discrete segments in a gloriously depraved finale, “Sex Tape” ended so abruptly I was actually surprised it was over. Still, there were a lot of great gags in this week’s Review, including the episode’s other big surprise, the tiger that literally comes out of left field to tackle MacNeil. A solid episode for sure, but I know Daly and company can do better.