Comedy Central's newest show, 'Detroiters,' starring Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson, premiered Tuesday night — offering free beer to Motor City residents, no less — and gave people a taste of just what kind of personality the buddy comedy is going to take on in its first season. So just how did that taste?
Well, it was kind of hit-or-miss as far as the laughs went. Jotting down notes as I watched, the first nine minutes of the pilot episode ticked away and I hardly cracked a smile. That was not a good sign, seeing as nine minutes equated with about one-third of the 21-minute-long episode.
But things picked up maybe halfway through, and I found myself cracking up at the commercial that Sam Duvet (Richardson) and Tim Cramblin (Robinson) ended up producing — with help from their intern Lea (Lailani Ledesma) — for the so-called Hot Tub King of Detroit, Eddie Champagne (Steve Higgins). The two fledgling ad men leave the editing up to Lea and instead of what they'd pictured, Eddie's commercial ends up feeling sort of like an existential short film, showing the Hot Tub King at one point juxtaposed with the unmistakable wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man, made famous by Family Guy (at least in my mind).
Higgins actually provided the focal point for the laughs in the first episode of 'Detroiters,' as he shows up in another scene a littler later on and gets into some revelatory details about his failing marriage and sex life. That was also not a good sign for the show, however, because Jimmy Fallon's sidekick from the Tonight Show is only credited with that single episode on IMDb, meaning he won't be showing up again, at least not in season one.
Richardson and Robinson provided some laughs of their own, but their comic scenes weren't exactly anything to write home about. They get distracted from brainstorming ideas for a Chrysler ad pitch at one point and instead focus on trying to break a window in their office, but it really isn't even funny until they try throwing a decrepit desk through the glass and the thing falls apart before they can even heave it.
The funniest moment in the pilot for the show's leading pair was one that had previously been shown in a preview for the series: the moment they get fed up with the Chrysler ad executive (Jason Sudeikis) and attempt to "pull the plug" on him while he's in the hospital. Sam unhooks the cord from the wall only to discover that he's unplugged a lamp by the bedside.
Keying in on whether or not the show is actually funny seems vital — it is Comedy Central, after all — which is why I've focused on that so much so far, but there are certainly props to be given to this first episode of 'Detroiters' in other arenas. One of those, for example, is the sheer fact that they actually filmed the show in Detroit, and the city's landmarks popped up continuously throughout the pilot episode.
There was the Detroit skyline, the Renaissance Center rising high; there was Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, as Sam and Tim drove to a meeting; there was the Ambassador Bridge, lit up at night, as our main characters somewhat oddly saluted a parade of sanitation engineers (AKA garbage men) driving by while they stood on the hood of their parked vehicle. Funny or not, it's simply awesome to see those sights on a Comedy Central show. I've also got to give a shout out to the not-so-subtle product placement of a bag of Better Made chips, which definitely had its moment.
You know what's also refreshing about the show though? The main cast appears to be a diverse group, including primary characters played by people of color.
If we're solely taking the laugh factor into consideration here, I'd say the show has some things to prove in the weeks ahead, especially due to the fact that Higgins the Hot Tub King provided a majority of the pilot episode's comedic moments and he was merely guest starring for that episode alone. 'Detroiters' has potential, and I think I'll grow to like it, but I hope I don't end up in a situation where I want myself to like it so much that I end up overlooking its pitfalls.
And, for all those haters out there who seemed ready to dismiss the show based on its trailer alone ("Those guys aren't anything like the people of Detroit"), I'd say: come on now, you gotta at least give this a chance. Even if the writers don't nail it exactly, this show should reach a lot of viewers and make people who aren't at all familiar with Detroit able to recognize landmarks like the ones I mentioned above. You never know, a little exposure for the Motor City could go a long way.