Truth be told, it’s hard to judge FX’s The Comedians after one episode. Then again, it’s not exactly encouraging that the pilot’s closing punchline is the reveal of a transgendered director as portrayed by perpetual guest star Steven Weber.
The series finds Crystal coerced into starring alongside Gad on a sketch show he initially conceived as a one-man vehicle. The City Slickers star isn’t excited about working with a modern-day comic who considers a man’s genitals the perfect punchline, while Gad’s only doing the show because he blew through his nonexistent 1600 Penn Season 2 money. The premiere focuses less on the day-to-day production of their 13-episode Billy & Josh Show and more on developing the non-chemistry between its two leads. Remnants of a supporting cast include Crystal’s “like” assistant Esme (Megan Ferguson, Hart of Dixie), the show’s head writer Mitch Reed (Matt Oberg, Hart of Dixie) and producer with a questionable intestinal tract Kristen Laybourne (Stephnie Weir, MADtv).
After beginning the half-hour at the tail end of their first tape night, the pilot goes back to Crystal’s first meeting with the (fictitious) head of FX. His pilot presentation — which finds him playing every part in a cringe-inducing reenactment of When Harry Met Sally‘s classic “O” moment — didn’t test well, and the only way the network will agree to move forward with the project is if he agrees to star alongside the former Book of Mormon standout. Their initial dinner meeting doesn’t go well (Gad greets the veteran comedian by telling him he’s seen so much of him recently on Starz Family), but that doesn’t stop either of them from agreeing to work together.
The dynamic duo later clash when Gad approaches Kristen about hiring a female director from 1600 Penn and Crystal insists on hiring the “great” Jamie Dobbs, who Kristen secretly had a fling with back in the ’90s. Jamie, of course, has since made an unexpected transition, leaving everybody speechless upon her arrival. As the pilot comes to a close, Crystal and Gad insist that the show within the show is “gonna be good” now that the former has hired the director of his choice and latter’s request for a woman at the helm has been met.
The first episode of The Comedians doesn’t leave much of a strong impression. The fictionalized version of Crystal is more jerky than it is funny, leaving the need for laughs on Gad’s shoulders. The satirical aspect and mockumentary aestheticism have both been done better before, but we’ll give the show another few weeks to find itself.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your take on FX’s less-than-bromantic comedy? Vote in our poll, then sound off in the comments.