When every TV series starts, it’s a bit of a crapshoot as to whether it’s going to last. Some don’t even make it beyond the first aired episode and others get just a few extra weeks before ratings and network support starts dwindling exponentially. I think that’s why a lot of series hold back a little bit during the first season. If they are going to just get shuffled off the schedule, why push any buttons or boundaries?
I have to think that the producers and writers of Big Time In Hollywood FL knew that they might only have one shot to make a series for Comedy Central, so if they flame out after one season, they were going to go down guns a-blazing. How else to explain their willingness to throw every outrageous idea at the screen over the course of these last nine weeks?
Either that or some truly sick minds are at work here. The kind of minds that decide to cast Jason Alexander playing himself as a silk pajama wearing creep that engages in human trafficking and lots of drugs. The kind that decides, during a climactic scene, to have Alexander blow Cuba Gooding Jr.’s hand off. The kind that writes a moment where the Academy Award-winning actor chokes the former Seinfeld star to death by making him drown in the spray of blood flying out of his blown apart wrist.
This is also why I might be a sucker. There have been countless recent examples of TV and movie stars playing overblown parodic versions of themselves (This Is The End, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc.). It feels at times like a cheap laugh to watch Michael Cera as a sexually devious drug addict or Ted Danson as a bloviating jerk. But that plays so far against type. Not that I think Cuba Gooding Jr. is a cokehead freak like he plays in the show, but why does it feel like it’s not that far out of the realm of possibility? Maybe that says more about me than it does him.
The rest of the episode really felt like it was building to and then recovering from that big scene with Alexander. Along the way, though, they had a lot of fun moments, like Ben and Jack completely frustrating Cuba with their stupidity (“Rico’s an acronym! I thought you said he was a chimp! Make up your mind!!”), poor Del getting smacked around and crapping his pants as he’s interrogated by the feds, and Alexander’s disturbing description of his human trafficking work. And through it all, Keith David’s character finally lands on the truth about the shitty movie that the brothers were making.
In that respect, Big Time falls in line with a lot of other serial TV shows, dragging its feet a bit before dropping us in next week’s big season finale where everything will likely get wrapped up quite nicely. Or probably really roughly with the demise of another great character actor. As long as it’s not Stephen Tobolowsky, we’re cool. You take down Ned Ryerson and we’re going to have a problem.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.