Angie Tribeca’s Second Episode: A Masterclass in Absurdist Satire

Angie Tribeca’s Second Episode: A Masterclass in Absurdist Satire

angie tribeca the wedding planner did it

Second Episodes: The Ultimate Challenge

Second episodes are the hardest. It doesn’t matter if it’s comedy or drama, network or cable, live-action or animated; how does a show express its true personality for the first time? It’s certainly become all but impossible on network television, where tradition demands the pilot basically be repeated for the second episode – and even though cable shows usually have the benefit of working with a guaranteed season order, they often still struggle with their first attempts to work outside the mold 99.99% of pilots are pressed through. That second episode is tough to nail; and unfortunately, is often the breaking point for a lot of potential audience members, again elevating the pressure on the creators, producers, and performers to deliver something special – it leads to stories and characterizations that feel forced, which is why Angie Tribeca‘s second episode “The Wedding Planner Did It” is a pretty impressive feat.

Angie Tribeca’s Impressive Evolution

How naturally Angie Tribeca works away from the rhythms of its pilot – which relied on lengthy gags and a paper-thin plot to deliver its thin satire – is a pleasure to watch in “The Wedding Planner Did It”. From the acutely-tuned soundtrack (full of electric guitars and wandering bass loops) to the increased focus on world-building, “The Wedding Planner” is an all-around tighter, more sustainable version of Angie – but one that doesn’t lose focus of the absurdist satire that drives its humor, using it to highlight the personalities of Angie and the cops around her, rather than existing as simplistic riffs on cop show tropes.

Understandably, tying the jokes into the story a little more effectively makes everything move faster; and Michael Patrick Jann’s camera follows suit, shortening scenes and accentuating punchlines with concise editing, eliminating a lot of the meandering nonsense that detracted from Angie‘s pilot. It gives the show so much more flexibility, both with its jokes (man, those Hoffman jokes were all hilarious; maybe I just like stupid dog humor) and with its characters; Jay’s sudden infatuation with Angie may not be anything unique, but Hayes MacArthur’s performance of the new added twist to their relationship is perfect, and it really enhances a lot of their scenes together.

Character Development and Absurdist Satire

As a whole, “The Wedding Planner” just makes a lot of simple, effective connections between jokes and character: Angie’s backstory is a great example, a flashback that mixes in the slapstick humor Angie loved in the pilot, with some genuine (if entirely predictable, given the genre it is poking fun at) depth for Angie’s character. The real genius of this episode may really be in how “The Wedding Planner” slyly reconstructs the tropes of woman cop and widow cop, with a story about dead bakers and a drug-dealing wedding planner: it both allows Angie to have the moment where she panics about taking a case about weddings (because they just bother her now, of course), but also the moment where she wipes her hands clean of it all by the end, where she could care less about the husband she lost or the criminal she just let get away, because she finally found a work partner she could get along with.

Silly moments like those that are backed up with real pathos for its main characters, are the kinds of things Angie can slowly, passively build on to create something lasting and three-dimensional. Clearly, the humor is always going to be there, because “The Wedding Planner” is on point with both its visual gags and its dialogue, sharper and more deliberate with each gag than anything the pilot had to offer – what is impressive about “The Wedding Planner” is how it explicitly (if quietly) begins to build out the world and people around those jokes, which is really what is going to make Angie Tribeca a lasting, meaningful entry in the cop satire genre.

Additional Thoughts and Observations

  • I wish Adam Scott was a regular on this show… his deadpan was made for this kind of show. It is what made Party Down so perfect.
  • “So you’re telling me there’s a folk rock angle?”
  • That’s all we get of James Franco… that’s it?!! That can’t be it.
  • Love Alfred Molina as the medical examiner – cannot wait to see more of him.
  • There is a lot more Deon Cole in this episode – and that’s a very good thing.
  • “This guy knows nothing.” “The capital of Bulgaria is Sofia.” “Alright, he knows one thing.”
  • Nothing makes me dry heave like a knee injury… even an exaggerated, obviously fake one like Jay’s at the end. Yikes.
  • Jay’s “I can’t believe I’m saving myself for you” isn’t the funniest line in this episode, but the delivery of it certainly made me laugh the hardest. Also, Jay’s homoerotic compliments/looks at Chet were terrific.

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  1. JaySin316
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