Yesterday I was speaking to a new Dangerous Minds contributor on the phone and trying to distill, boil down, encapsulate, etc, what I felt the mission of this blog was, and what “reviewing” meant in the days where someone can just press play and instantly see or hear what you are nattering on about in text and quickly form their own opinion. In the golden age of “rock” magazines like CREEM or Rolling Stone, the role of a music critic like, say, the great Lester Bangs, was to convince his readers to purchase some album or another with the power of his persuasive prose. Several decades later, YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud have lowered the barrier to cultural participation to merely clicking on something. You needn’t leave the couch to walk across the room let alone have to trek down to the local record store that no longer even exists. The thing you are curious about is right there in front of you. It’s already in your hands. A short burst of “enthusiastic” prose that basically indicates “This ___ is great, here’s why I think this is so wonderful, some background information on it and here’s why you should hit play” seems to be a winning recipe for a “review” on a blog in an age where all manner of cultural products are digitally pumped into your home like water or electricity.
Which brings me to my own review of Review with Forrest MacNeil, one of the things that I am indeed most enthusiastic about here as this hot, hot summer winds down (along with Mr. Robot, the upcoming Dungen album and the new Slim Twig). Now in it the midst of its second season on Comedy Central, Review with Forrest MacNeil, is produced by and stars Andrew Daly. You’ve seen him in a number of things (notably Eastbound and Down, as Kenny Powers’ tweedy, button-downed romantic rival) but this is the first time he’s really had such a great venue for his talents. Review—an American restyling of a brilliant Australian series called Review with Myles Barlow—is one of the most consistently gut-bustingly hilarious shows on television. And it is dark, but it is cheerfully dark…
The set up is simple enough to be telegraphed rapido in Review‘s opening credits where Forrest explains that he’s not like other reviewers who review books, movies or food, he reviews life itself: “Life, it’s literally all we have…. but is it any good?” He reviews “life experiences”—what it’s like to have frostbite, commit theft, be a drug addict, go into space, etc. His perky co-host A.J. Gibbs announces which experience Forrest is expected to try out for his audience’s vicarious thrills. She’ll read an email or open a video file sent in from a viewer who might request something like “What’s it like to eat fifteen stacks of pancakes?” which Forrest then goes out and dutifully does, offering on camera commentary as he vomits outside of the diner leaning against a parking meter. He can veto two review requests per season.
And this is the beauty of Review‘s comic conceit: Forrest’s single-minded determination to maintain absolute fealty to the dumb rules of his TV show (which demand total commitment) even if if leads to carnage, death and destruction in his own life, and the life of his family and other innocent people he comes into contact with during production. Daly as Forrest is the single best clueless white guy character to come along since Fred Willard’s “Jerry Hubbard” on Fernwood 2Night, which is, of course, one of the nicest compliments I could ever possibly bestow upon the man. (Willard guests as Forrest’s father-in-law on Review.)
Have I mentioned yet just how much I love this show? To be honest, I just found out about Review with Forrest MacNeil recently myself. Before season two started airing I read something about it that piqued my attention and so I downloaded the first episode, loved it and then powered through the remainder of the season in a matter of three days before starting the second season, which as I mentioned is already in the middle of airing. It the perfect show to binge-watch because you see the destruction of this fool’s life practically occurring in real time.
Below, Forrest MacNeil reviews being a racist:
More after the jump…