Review Season 1 Analysis: A critical analysis of “life itself” may sound like the most simplistic and gimmicky concept ever, but the first season of Review examined this idea to its furthest absurd and logical conclusions, making it a genuine examination of what it means to live. The unbridled curiosity of Andy Daly’s performance made for a star-making turn.
Best Episode of Review Season 1:
“Pancakes; Divorce; Pancakes”
Is it the mark of a truly classic episode of television that it is an incredible viewing experience no matter how you watch it? I initially missed about the first 10 minutes of “Pancakes; Divorce; Pancakes.” My first taste of it was Forrest telling his wife Suzanne that he wanted a divorce. After two episodes had made me think Review would be a mildly diverting (but totally worthwhile) pleasure, this moment suddenly had me thinking, “What is this show?” This was the point at which it became 100 percent clear that the experiences Forrest reviewed would have legitimate real-life ramifications.
Actually committing to the experience of divorce just for the sake of the experience, and thus having to separate from a woman he loved deeply and had no desire to leave, made Forrest MacNeil a sort of mythic hero – the personification of commitment. What made this experience all the more poignant was bookending it with the seeming banality of overindulging in breakfast food. It was an ingenious move to have Forrest’s producer Grant (a perfectly cast James Urbaniak) remind him, for both the 15 Pancakes and Divorce segments, that he never wanted to be allowed to back out of any segment no matter how much he begged. The twin crises of those first two segments would have been enough to drive any normal human being to abandon the whole endeavor of Review.
Moreover, the absurdity of a completely separate person requesting that Forrest eat 30 pancakes should have been pointless enough to drive him over the edge. Forrest did succumb to nihilism, but somehow that became the motivation that allowed him to continue this masterpiece, as he remarked, “These pancakes couldn’t kill me, because I was already dead.” Ultimately, this was an all-time classic half hour of television, a singular mix of insanity and inspiration.
Jeff Malone is a voracious entertainment consumer and entertainment creator. He currently resides in New York City, where he is working on a Master’s in Media Studies at The New School. In addition to his pieces on TMRzoo.com, you can check out his blog (jmunney.wordpress.com), where he provides regular coverage of Community and Saturday Night Live, as well as other television, film, music, and the rest of pop culture.