8.4

Sirens Review: “A Bitch Named Karma”

(Episode 1.02)

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<i>Sirens</i> Review: &#8220;A Bitch Named Karma&#8221;

With the pilot episode out of the way, and the main characters and their personalities established, the next step for a sitcom is to start pulling in the folks who fill out the margins of its cast. And with most modern TV shows, that usually means piling on the quirks.

So far with Sirens, they’re doling them out a little piecemeal. The closest we get to a full-blown overblown personality is Sophia “Stats” Bender, one of the EMTs who has Asperger’s or OCD and is seen in the opening moments of episode two rattling off statistics about people getting struck by lightning. (She’s helping respond to an incident at a church picnic.) The best we get from the others is that the man in charge of the operation, Cash (played by the great Bill Duke), loves candy, and one of the other female co-workers has the hots for Johnny.

I don’t expect it will be too long before the rest of the cast is given their peccadilloes, but with only 22 minutes of time, the show had to move on into a plot that centers on karma. Spurred on by the death of a woman at the picnic, Johnny, Hank and Brian set out to try to build up some good mojo in the world by volunteering to teach some teenagers CPR.

But, of course, right before they set out, the boys are handed primo tickets for a Bears game happening at the same time as the class. Naturally, they try to do both, attempting to hurry through the lesson and, naturally, they get blindsided by questions from the kids (almost all of whom were black and given really jokey kind of “black” names … a little troubling). So blindsided that they agree to let one kid take a seat in the ambulance, which he promptly takes for a joyride.

To avoid having to report the theft and expose their negligence, they turn to Johnny’s ex for help. The whole affair culminates with them tracking their rig to a hospital, where the two teens were taking a man they saw collapse in the street. Theresa, grumpy at Johnny’s selfishness in the guise of helping others, passes the football tickets off to the kids, reminding the EMTs: “Karma can be such a bitch. Sometimes she gives you a hand; sometimes she pisses right down your leg.”

There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to this episode, but it, by and large, did its job admirably. There was a great bit of back and forth between the EMTs and an angry gent who has been deafened by the lightning strike at the picnic, and is therefore not able to hear the insults being hurled his way. (“Felch a wet fart from a red monkey’s ass,” was my personal favorite.) And scriptwriters Denis Leary and Bob Fisher do a nice job spinning this yarn off a single keyword. The bulk of the story didn’t leave much of an impression but kept the wheels on this sitcom moving forward. A very workmanlike approach to a working class show.

Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.

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