Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: “The Crime Scene, The Storyteller, And The Sanctimonious Tower Of Morality”

Illustration for article titled The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: “The Crime Scene, The Storyteller, And The Sanctimonious Tower Of Morality”

There’s a certain excitement to the idea that nobody can reasonably predict where Todd Margaret will go at any given moment. It leads to some boring scenes necessary to the tiny threads of actual ongoing plot development, but more often it creates some truly bizarre setups for outrageous humor. I don’t really laugh out loud at Todd Margaret so much as I’m impressed by some of the wordplay that goes on, and just how completely out there David Cross is willing to go in order to see if he can get any laughs.

The prison scenes are by far the most ridiculous. As Todd is booked into jail as he awaits trial for all of the charges that have followed him around the country up to his capture while accidentally digging up Princess Diana’s grave with a dildo, all of his possessions are read out by the booking officer. Since he was at the bachelorette party, that includes penis shaped lollipops, fuzzy handcuffs, and a wonderfully specific comedic detail that the ball sack on the dildo is ripped. When Todd uses his one phone call, he tries to call Young and Barely Legal, a company he understands to be his law firm. It’s a good continuation of a joke from the first season, and the way Todd commits to the name without realizing its significance lands him in prison with pedophiles. His cell mate is a particularly filthy man who reads children’s stories to other inmates, and asks Todd to tell him about his childhood while obviously masturbating on the top bunk in their cell. It’s a lot of horribly gross stuff, but it’s inventive.

Meanwhile, Alice goes to confront Todd at his apartment, but finds Doug and Brent instead, and they finally put everything they know together. Alice figures out that Dave, who she’s always thought is a moron and an asshole, is probably behind the whole thing, and when she prompts the amateur detectives to confirm her idea, they take a long thirty seconds to incorrectly put forth other ideas. So they eventually figure out that Dave is behind everything, but they have no proof. Alice sets off to search for a connection, while Brent and Doug notice similarities between the arrogantly vulgar self-help CDs that Todd and Brent both listen to and the crest of the Mountford family. These are the kinds of scenes that keep the plot moving steadily forward, but I don’t find particularly funny. They need to know Todd is in prison, they need to eventually put their heads together and find out Dave is behind the whole mess, but it felt contrived in a bad way. The best comedic setups in the show are completely artificial as well, like the Remembrance Day ceremony interruption, but without consistent laughter, those contrivances can’t be overlooked.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I’ve been a bit dissatisfied by this second season. It feels like a sketch show with a loose narrative thread running through. Some bits are uproariously funny, and others barely register. The public embarrassment scenes are more consistently funny than anything else on the show, and I like them better than the throwaway one-liners, like Todd’s pedophile cell mate saying he’s in prison for “kid stuff,” which are funny but don’t build in any way. I find it hard to care what will happen to any of these characters, since none of them are very likeable. That doesn’t hinder how funny certain situations are, but it certainly does help keep my interest in how a wildly disparate plot may or may not come together at the last minute. Todd Margaret has done fine with just letting the situation unfold without worrying about how to tie things up, but now that the end of the show is right around the corner, I’d be more impressed if the big comedic moments could actually tie into the plot and serve a purpose outside just being ludicrous.

At the end of the episode, Todd is in jail, he and Brent have thrown away Todd’s best chance at release and clearing up the whole mess. The trial is scheduled for the following day, so the final episode of the second season will finally get around to showing some version of what every episode of the first season opened with. A final montage shows all the characters leading up to the trial, and ends with Todd’s dad back home, deciding to fly all the way back to England. I have no idea if all of this stuff will actually get wrapped up in a way that puts Todd in North Korea to press that red button, but at this point all I can really hope for is a couple outrageous swings for the comedy fences in the finale next week.

Stray observations:

  • Pam, the loose neighbor from across the hall, doesn’t understand the concept of underwear. Of course she’s going to have to pose as a businesswoman eventually.
  • The Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret joke in the credits tag was going to come into play at some point before this series ended, but it was exactly as lame as I thought it would be.
  • When Alice starts her monologue about how to actually impress a woman, Doug starts taking notes before she tells Brent to just kill himself.