Picks and Pans Review: Andy Richter Controls the Universe
FOX (Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. ET)
If it's a question of which is the more talented actor—Hank Azaria or Conan O'Brien's ex-sidekick Andy Richter—I definitely go with Azaria. But for Best Walter Mittyesque Sitcom of 2002, Richter's new vehicle (starting a planned 10-episode run March 19) has it all over Azaria's Imagine That, an NBC entry that came and went in January.
Like Azaria, Richter plays a writer with an active fantasy life. What I like about this show, though, is that the main character turns out technical manuals for a soulless conglomerate (maker of "everything from night-lights to nuclear missiles") rather than sketches for a TV comedy series. Andy aspires to write fiction but basically he's an ordinary guy—a role right for Richter—and the humor springs largely from the contrast between his fertile imagination and his dull, dry job. The writers evince an awareness of small corporate absurdities, such as sandwich theft from the employee refrigerator, and the funny business benefits from the work of James Patrick Stuart as a good-looking gold-brick, Jonathan Slavin as Andy's weird office mate and Paget Brewster as his semi-sympathetic supervisor.
The second episode delivers top-drawer black comedy when an employee dies on the job and his colleagues—sorrowful or not—are ordered to undergo grief counseling. Unfortunately, the April 2 episode wanders over the bad-taste line when Andy finds himself unable to break off an affair with a sexy anti-Semite.
Bottom Line: Andy proves handy
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