With the deluge of new programs coming at us for the past month, it's easy to overlook some interesting choices which are a little off the main track. I submit IFC's The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret to you in that spirit, starring the droll yet equally manic actor/comedian David Cross as an American duck out of water in Britain. The show, developed as a co-venture by IFC and the UK's Channel 4 (who showed the pilot there last year), features Cross as an American energy drink marketer charged with starting up the London office, a job he obtained under mistaken circumstances and for which he is completely unqualified. Not the first time a show's been built around a bumbling boss, but what makes this one different is Cross' talent and the lure of seeing something with a British comedy sensibility over here.
Those of you who already like and know British TV will recognize the name of Shaun Pye, Cross' collaborator on Todd Margaret, as Ricky Gervais' acting rival Greg Lindley Jones on Extras, but Pye's probably better known over there as a talented comedy writer. Frequent Cross collaborator Will Arnett is onboard for cameos as his U.S. boss, actress/writer Sharon Horgan starred in her own hit show Pulling over there, and co-star Blake Harrison starred in the series The Inbetweeners. You'll also see Cross' real-life girlfriend Amber Tamblyn show up, as well as other familiar faces.
Here's the official IFC promo for the series:
Will you like Todd Margaret? Do you like uncomfortable comedy? If so, you'll like it. If you're looking for a family sitcom or something with singing kids, then maybe not. While Cross' Margaret doesn't quite plumb the depths of comic despair exhibited by Ricky Gervais in The Office, say, he's on somewhat the same track. It's of course his indomitable American can-do confidence that stops his character from becoming either truly pathetic or really lovable in the end, but if you like Cross and you like the notion of an idiotic American abroad, you'll like this.
I quite like it, but then I love British comedy and was thrilled to see Felicity Montagu in Episode 3; she played Alan Partridge's secretary Lynn in Steve Coogan's several masterpiece series built on that character. The first Todd Margaret pilot for the UK was filmed with a different actor as Todd's second-in-command, and there were subtle differences from the first pilot and the second. For just a taste of Todd Margaret's over-the-top antics, take a look at this from the first pilot, where Todd ingests some of his own Thunder Muscle product and goes mental, as they'd say over there. Much profanity so be forewarned, but also very funny!
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret airs Fridays at 10pm, with encores later that night and at other times. Check out IFC's Todd Margaret site for more details! If you missed earlier episodes, they are available on various commercial sites and others more mysterious and subterranean...