MPI // 2010 // 140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Rogers (Retired) // January 12th, 2012
"If you want to go deep sea diving with the big boys, you best be prepared to run into a giant squid now and again."?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a foul mouthed style of American comedy, wrap it around a classically styled British sitcom, and slap it on IFC? It sounds like it could be pretentious and overwrought, doesn't it? Kind of like something a hipster would dream up after too much pot smoke and BBC Two. But in fact, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is one of the most refreshing, offbeat, and hilarious comedies in a very long time.
The core of the show comes from the character of Todd Margaret, a temp worker at some dead end office job, who stumbles into the promotion of a life time. The fact that Margaret is wholly under-qualified, a borderline sociopath, and a definite pathological liar means nothing to blowhard executive Brent Wilts. As long as Margaret is skilled enough to sell crates upon crates of 'Thunder Muscle', a highly toxic and slightly radioactive energy drink, to the unsuspecting British public, then Wilts can keep his cocaine and prostitute addiction in perfect form.
And with that, Margaret is shipped off across the Pond and soon finds himself embroiled in a web of lies that he created so that his woefully inept social and cultural skills, along with his inability to sell a single can of energy drink, wouldn't be noticed. There's the sardonic assistant, the cute yet way-too-sophisticated-for-Todd love interest who may or may not have a thing for Canadians, and the highly suspect Turks who take a strange interest in Margaret's nuclear drink.
All of it is a recipe for something strange yet hilarious.
Slapping a befuddled and moronic David Cross in the middle of an old school British sitcom and letting his creative juices run wild around a delightfully stellar cast of characters is just about as genius as it comes. It should be said that I'm not the most expressive person there is when it comes to comedy. Even when I watch something that's flat out hilarious I'll still only manage a slight chuckle or little guffaw even if I'm busting a gut on the inside. The doctor's call it depression or acute social anxiety, but I prefer to call it viewing decorum. Suffice to say, IFC's newest original comedy show had me in hysterical fits of laughter from frame one.
It's highly enjoyable and very engaging to watch how one small lie about growing up in England in order to secure a lucrative job position turns into one of the biggest criminal hearings in England's history; with Todd Margaret standing accused of a staggering amount of felony charges. He's a bum, he's kind of a jerk, and he is wholly out of touch with reality. And in that great British tradition of comedy, the laughs are constantly mined from elongated scenes of misunderstanding and the outlandish situations that Margaret finds himself in one step after another.
Whether it's his massive suitcase containing all his worldly possessions being mistaken for a terrorist bomb and then detonated, or that Todd constantly is unable to wrap his head around the concept of exchange rates and how irrelevant Snooker is even in England...The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret has an old school British esthetic injected with that self-deprecating every man lilt that makes so much of David Cross' work sublime.
But most sublime is that the audience should hate Margaret for his stupidity and his continual necessity to make an ass out of himself with his awkwardness and egotism. Yet, David Cross understands that he walks a fine line with the character and he instead chooses to aim for pity instead of hate with his characterization. Sure, Todd may set back the way Americans are perceived abroad by about two decades, but hey, at least he's trying even if he's far from earnest. And there are actual moments of heart within the show as we watch Todd break down and finally accept his uselessness...It's endearing and sobering all at once. That these few moments are soon followed up by hilarious rape gags and pedophilia jokes doesn't diminish the impact.
All in all, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is one of the most refreshing and original comedy shows in a long time. In an age of stagnant and meaningless sitcoms, David Cross has given us hope.
In terms of this single disc DVD release, the anamorphic widescreen video transfer is certainly not going to blow you away considering that this show is trying to capture that old school British visual style, so the colors are muted and the image is soft, but it adds to the character of the show much more than it takes away. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is similarly understated but the dialogue is crisp and the soundtrack is given some bouncy textures.
But where the DVD makes up for the lack in technical achievement is in the special features. Not only do we get commentaries for every episode, with episode 5 even having two, but we get commentaries with cast and crew that are both candid and hilarious. There's also a host of deleted scenes, an extended version of episode one, short and long form featurettes that flesh out the behind the scenes creative pull of the show, a Q&A with the cast and crew, and a blooper reel. One can't really ask for more.
With a host of special features, including extended episodes and hilarious commentary tracks, this DVD is the best way to enjoy The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Rogers; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 140 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Episode
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site