Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spoils Of Babylon Often Hysterically Funny

Too much of prime time TV might be deemed "cookie cutter" --meaning one  type of hit series usually spawns a dozen imitations.
But the blazingly different new comedy series The Spoils Of Babylon is something completely different and original.
The premiere on Thursday January 9 at 10 p.m. on The Movie Network  has the first two half-hour episodes.
Will Ferrell is in top form as an Orson Welles type genius named Eric Jonrosh who introduces the TV version of his greatest work.
And right behind are such talents as Kristen Wiig, Tobey Maguire, Tim Robbins and Haley Joel Osment.
What emerges is an often inspired spoof of all those greatish TV events of the 1980s like Masada or Winds Of War. A presentation of the Funny Or Die Factory this one has some misses along the way but enough moments of huge merriment to keep viewers entertained.
Farrell with a mountain of a beard is the utterly pompous self proclaimed genius introducing his masterwork Spoils Of Babylon which ran 22 hours in its first cut before being whittled down for TV consumption.
We first meet Jonrosh in a deserted restaurant as he tastes from three glasses of red wine --immediately Orson Welles' campy wine commercials come to mind.
The bizarre story finds Devon (Maguire) adopted by kindly farmer Tim Robbins and raised with  sister Cynthia  (Wiig) who gets more amorous with the passing of the years.
Obviously Jonrosh had to film everything on the cheap --the sprawling landscapes of Texas and the big cars Texans drive are really only cheap miniatures.
This parody of melodramatic cliches from such clap trap as The Thord Birds might not work for younger viewers who do not remember these memorable stinkers.
Others may tire of the dull patches. But I just liked to wallow in the impossibility of these melodramatic situations.
Also around for the fun areVal Kilmer, Jessica Alba, Haley Joel Osmont and they try to act quite serious indeed. The material is so risible it needs no prodding from the actors.
As critics have said the result seems like an over extended skit from Saturday Night Live --which means a fair number of comedy misfires along the way.
I'm not the only one who immediately thought of Airplane. If one bad joke doesn't make it for you don't worry there's another one on the way.
In fact I found Spoils trailer to be even better than the finished product as it contains many of the comedic highlights and none of the low moments.
Anyway this TV comedy is completely different from any thing else you may see during the midseason or any other time for that matter.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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