Thursday, April 4, 2013

Arrested Development Holdover: The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret Is Fun, But Not Enduring!

The Good: Very funny, Decent performances, Fairly interesting characters
The Bad: Some very familiar performances, Feelings of repetitiveness with the plot, Utterly unlikable characters
The Basics: Over the course of the twelve episodes, The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret entertains and amuses, but not in any particularly memorable ways.

The strength of a great show – play, movie, or television – can be measured by its endurance and its memorability. There are television series that I pine for on DVD that had only one season (Nothing Sacred!) or were cut short on their DVD run prematurely (Once And Again Season 3, the rest of NYPD Blue) that I find myself referencing or thinking about almost every day. Arrested Development might not be one I consider daily, but there are iconic moments and lines that I cannot imagine I would ever forget. Enter The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret. The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret utilizes David Cross (who created the series) and Will Arnett, who worked together previously on Arrested Development (reviewed here!). But, more than that, The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret is that kind of show; it is trying to appeal to those who like off-putting, awkward humor, like Arrested Development and it succeeds . . . at least when one is watching the show.

Unfortunately for The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, when the show is not on, it is startlingly unmemorable.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret follows the fourteen days that lead up to Todd Margaret, an American Citizen, being tried in a British court for a bevy of crimes ranging from child pornography and destruction of public property to dispersing a biotoxin! The series flashes back from that event (and Todd Margaret preparing to press a button to launch nuclear weapons from North Korea later the same day!) to how Todd Margaret ended up in his predicament. Todd Margaret is a temp worker at a company that is bought out by a major multinational. When Brent Wilts visits the company, he fires Doug Whitney and promotes Todd Margaret to what he claims is a lucrative post in the UK, selling energy drinks. Arriving in Britain, Todd Margaret develops an instant crush on Alice Bell and he meets his one employee, a sarcastic young man named Dave.

Todd Margaret soon discovers that the energy drink craze in Britain is not as vibrant as he was promised and that the product he is trying to sell is actually a banned biohazard from Korea. Dave continues to steer him in the wrong direction, giving the energy drink to possible terrorists on credit, having Margaret employ look up a “law firm” that puts him on underage porn sites, and spending huge amounts of money to get a not-really-celebrity to endorse the energy drink. As Todd Margaret haplessly moves from one misadventure to another, he is frequently bailed out by Alice. And when Brent comes to Britain for the money from the Thunder Muscle, it quickly becomes apparent that he is not the corporate mastermind he sold himself as, a fact accented by Doug Whitney pursuing him with a worker’s comp claim and information that could expose him!

The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret lives up to its name, though for the most part Todd Margaret continually makes the same bad decision, which is to trust Dave. Because he originally claimed to be from Leeds, Margaret feels compelled to lie to Dave over and over again, asserting that he knows Britain (when clearly he does not). As a result, Dave manipulates him into one bad venture after another, which quickly escalates into Todd Margaret’s imprisonment and trial.

There is exceptionally little in the way of character development, then, in The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret. Even after Todd Margaret’s father shows up, it only becomes an excuse for more crazy crap to happen to Todd and his annoying neighbor.

Arguably what sinks The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret from being truly memorable is the same thing that is one of its strengths. In reuniting David Cross and Will Arnett, the fans of Arrested Development get a sense of nostalgia and Cross and Arnett play Todd Margaret and Brent Wilts remarkably closely to how they played their characters on Arrested Development. For sure, Cross does not don his familiar thick glasses or speak in a high-pitched voice, but he still says the most outrageous things as Todd Margaret and seems oblivious to what they really mean. Will Arnett is essentially replaying G.O.B. In other words, neither actor gives us anything we haven’t already seen before.

The result is that The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret is enjoyable, but ultimately inconsequential in the larger scheme of television and humor.

For other quirky television shows, please check out my reviews of:
Ally McBeal
The Lone Gunmen


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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