On the Idiot Box: "Derek," "Key & Peele" and "Boardwalk Empire"

By Craig D. Lindsey
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 18, 2013

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Ricky Gervais in "Derek."

Derek
Currently streaming on Netflix
Captive audience: The Office fans; decent human beings; people who like a good cry with their comedy.
Moment of truth: Just when you think you’re ready to dismiss Ricky Gervais as an annoying, dickish fame whore, here he comes with a show which reveals that not only is he a humanist at heart, but he also has a heart. Gervais plays the title character in this mockumentary sitcom, a mentally handicapped yet utterly decent nursing home employee. While some more cynical viewers may choke on the rampant sentimentality (and this show extols a lot of emotional moments in its seven episodes), this well-orchestrated mix of hilarity and pathos shows just how much of a silly softie Gervais really is.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.


Key & Peele
Wednesdays, 10:30pm, Comedy Central
Captive audience: Black folk—especially those who know who Baratunde Thurston is; people who’ve given up on Dave Chappelle ever coming back to TV.
Moment of truth: The Mad TV alumni-turned-sketch comedy duo return for a third season full of giggle-inciting sketches that’ll likely end up becoming viral video sensations. (Seriously, these guys are really popular on YouTube.) You kinda have to be diehard fans to get their absurd, race-based humor, especially since some of their familiar, sillier characters— the stubborn substitute teacher, all those football players with the wacky names—make appearances in the first two eps. Of course, President Obama returns, along with his always-agile anger translator, Luther. So, we’re definitely all good here.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.

 
Boardwalk Empire

Sundays, 9pm, HBO
Captive audience: Scorsese fans; The Sopranos fans; those strange people who watch this instead of Breaking Bad on Sunday nights.
Moment of truth: Even though this show has a superior cast (with Steve Buscemi leading the charge as Nucky Thompson), awe-inspiring production values and both Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg serving as executive producers, this sprawling period piece about early 20th-century criminal kingpins still hasn’t clicked with audiences. Now in its fourth season, the drama continues to be well-done yet largely unremarkable. Ron Livingston and Jeffrey Wright show up as the latest gents out to get a piece of Thompson’s Atlantic City pie. Hey, as long as Michael Kenneth Williams is around as Chalky White, I’m straight.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.

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