‘Review’: A Critic’s Job Is a Lonely but Funny One

·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Photo: Comedy Central
Photo: Comedy Central

The delightful yet melancholy comedy series Review returns for a third and final season on Comedy Central on Thursday night. The show’s straightforward yet unusual premise — Andy Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, a critic who reviews not movies or books, but often-intense life experiences — seems to have consigned the show to cult status. But Review remains one of the most entertaining, and occasionally quite moving, shows on television.

Daly’s Forrest is a determinedly cheerful fellow whose preppy exterior — horn-rimmed glasses, button-down Brooks Brothers shirts — belies a roiling, ambivalent soul within, one that gives his quests a certain poignant desperation. In the season premiere, Forrest’s viewers send him on typically odd quests such as “Putting a Pet to Sleep” (he acquires and then unfortunately forms an attachment to a lizard he knows he must soon put to death) and “Making Your Dream Come True” (he writes down details of a dream he has and then acts it out in his real life — think lots of Freudian imagery: hot dogs, nudity in public, etc.).

The pet segment is the funniest, because Daly is an excellent actor who lets us see the full play of his emotions as he first bonds with and then loses his new animal friend — which also makes it the saddest segment as well.

Running alongside the gimmick of the series is a chronicle of Forrest’s private life, which is a disaster. The show has already cost Forrest his marriage to Suzanne (played by Playing Houses Jessica St. Clair) — she thinks what he does is a nutty pursuit that makes him an unfit husband and parent. Forrest has few friends. The life of a critic, it seems, is an inevitably lonely one. Also a fascinating and amusing one.

‘Review’ airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.

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