'Impastor': Ministering a Few Laughs

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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Impastor is a new sitcom starring Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum as a genial con man who assumes the identity of a small-town pastor. Rosenbaum’s Buddy Dobbs is hiding out from a loan shark to whom he owes money, so why not become a Lutheran minister, one of the most important figures in the little village he finds himself in?

It’s this sort of unlikely coincidence that makes Impastor, premiering Wednesday night on TV Land, seem silly from the start, but lots of good sitcoms have had unlikely premises. (M*A*S*H — blood ‘n’ chuckles during the Korean War — was no sure bet.) At first, the show seems promising; Rosenbaum is charming, and so is Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect), as his assistant at the church. But pretty soon, the dumbness begins to settle in. 

Buddy is supposed to be a pretty smart guy, a quick thinker, yet he’s completely blindsided when he’s asked to give a sermon on Sunday. He also discovers that part of his new identity includes the fact that the pastor he’s impersonating is gay, but he hires a female prostitute and then doesn’t bother to lock the door when Rue’s Dora comes to the parish house, interrupting them.

Impastor trades on some unpleasant stereotypes, including a prissy gay parishioner (Mike Kosinski) who nearly faints when Buddy tells him he’s attractive, and a blond woman whose wiggles and comments consign her to bimbo limbo (she’s played by Mircea Monroe). The fine character actor David Rasche (Sledge Hammer!) gets to play a scene in which he kisses what he thinks is a hair from his dead dog, but is actually a public hair from Buddy. To say Rasche deserves better is a massive understatement.

Impastor is another attempt by the nostalgia channel TV Land to program to a younger, hipper audience (Younger and The Jim Gaffigan Show are other recent examples of this for the network). But using four-letter words and the punchline “You’re blowing the pastor!” seems like a pretty cheesy way to try to be cutting-edge. 

Impastor airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on TV Land.