Alibi V.25 No.2 • Jan 14-20, 2016 

Idiot Box

Crime Scene Silliness

“Angie Tribeca” on TBS

Rashida Jones and Hayes MacArthur

Bowing to the peculiar whims of today’s viewing public, TBS tries something unusual with its new sitcom “Angie Tribeca”—debuting the entire first season in a “25 hour Binge-a-Thon.” This mean, if you’re so inclined, you have multiple opportunities to watch the whole 10-episode shebang without bothering to tune in on a weekly basis. It’s an interesting way to build buzz for what turns out to be an addictively brain-addled comedy.

This manic spoof of faux-gritty police procedurals like CBS’ “CSI” (et al.) stars the lovely and talented Rashida Jones (late of “Parks and Recreation”) as the titular, gruff, bad-ass Los Angeles detective. The TV trope-heavy pilot finds her saddled with an unwanted new partner and potential love interest (Hayes MacArthur from “Worst Week” and “Go On”) by her impatient boss (Jere Burns from “Dear John” and “Justified”). The particulars of the plot aren’t important, though, as “Angie Tribeca” is interested mostly in a barrage of Airplane-style humor (or, more specifically, that of the short-lived Leslie Nielsen series “Police Squad!”). Logic and realism go out the window with endless sight gags, goofy running jokes and beautifully stupid punchlines. Character names are silly shout-outs (Jay Geils, Dr. Scholls, DJ Tanner). Hairy stuntmen unconvincingly substitute for the main character during winking action sequences. And the dialogue? “See these holes,” says the bumbling coroner Dr. Edelweiss (Alfred Molina) of one particular murder victim. “I think somebody shot a gun into them.”

The breakneck pilot, written and directed by Steve and Nancy Carrell (who serve as executive producers), sets the tone. Not all of the follow-up episodes hit quite the same high-water mark of inspired lunacy. Still, the show is consistently, “why did I laugh at that?” hilarious. Everyone plays it straight as an arrow—which is the best way to pull off this kind of spoofery. Jones (daughter of music mogul Quincy Jones and “Mod Squad” actress Peggy Lipton) has always been something of a background star. It’s nice to see her front and center, playing the slightly-against-type tough girl. The show also calls in a lot of Hollywood favors and features a parade of stars in tiny cameos (James Franco, Gary Cole, Lisa Kudrow, Adam Scott and Jones’s parents in just the first few episodes).

Obviously, your own sense of humor will factor into how much you enjoy “Angie Tribeca.” But this refreshingly idiotic, throwback style of sitcom silliness feels refreshing in an era of occasionally too-clever self-consciousness. (Lemme put it to you this way: “Girls” this ain’t.) Sometimes you just need to giggle at a good sight gag. And “Angie Tribeca” is more than happy to shoot a few dozen of them at you at a time.

“Angie Tribeca” premieres Sunday, January 17 at 7pm on TBS. (TBS 7pm) 25 Hour Binge-a-Thon