Fall 2011 Review: Free Agents

20 Oct

The inevitable fact of spacing these reviews out of the course of a few weeks means that some of the shows will be already cancelled by the time I write about them.  Free Agents, moreso, was just about dead on arrival.  It was one of the easiest shows to call as a quick cancellation, but unlike other easy calls like The Playboy Club and How To Be A Gentleman, it’s not simply because it was bad, though it was by no means great.  It’s because it was a bad fit, time and network wise, and didn’t receive much promotion.

I was mildly pleasantly surprised upon watching Free Agents, not because it was great, but because my expectations were relatively low.  That said it really wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t good either, but it wasn’t bad.  Here’s the premise.  A couple of relatively recently single middle-aged folks work at a public relations agency.  Hank Azaria plays a recently divorced dad, and Katherine Hahn, a recently widowed woman.  The two of them have gotten together on a one-night stand at the beginning of the first episode, and the show continues as they go back to work with sexual tension and a will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic.  They’re surrounded by some wacky co-workers, played Al Madrical and Mo Mandel, a wacky British boss, played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer librarian Giles, Anthony Stuart Head, and a wacky janitor played by Judd Apatow bit part player and former The State member Joe LoTruglio.

What works best about the show are the two leads.  They’re generally likable and they play their parts well,  A couple of their lines hit and all the best scenes of the show were with them and particularly when they were talking to one another. Even the parts where Azaria is crying about his divorce don’t seem nearly as cartoonish as they could.  The side characters are another story.  Irritating and over the top for the most part, they seem like a bunch of cardboard cut outs particularly put next to the genuinely engaging lead actors.  Head, though I love him as Giles, was occasionally excruciating to watch in his scenes as the incredibly inappropriate boss who makes his employees feel uncomfortable.  The other awkward side plot about how one of the friend characters wanted to go out on the town and the poor married friend wanted to come along but didn’t understand single life did not work either.

Will I watch it again?  Well, it’s cancelled, but I wouldn’t and didn’t.  It’s not dreck though, for what it’s worth, and it was a little rough to have only four episodes of it to air.  I’m not crying about it though.

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