Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Spoils of Babylon - The Foundling

IFC's new six-episode mini-series The Spoils of Babylon, written by Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele, sets out to satirize the ridiculous soap opera nature of TV mini-series of the 70's and 80's. Boasting an all-star cast, the first episode, with an intro by the show's creator Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell), introduces us to Devon Morehouse (Tobey Maguire) and his adopted family (Tim Robbins, Kristen Wiig) who strike it rich in oil just as the bank is set to foreclose on the last remnants of the Morehouse clan's once impressive real estate empire.

More concerned with parodying how ridiculous the TV-movies it's satirizing were than actually presenting genuinely funny moments, the first episode is a mixed bag. It's hard to purposefully do bad well. Over-the-top in every way from the acting, cheap model effects, and some incredibly awful dialogue, this is a lesson The Spoils of Babylon seems incapable of learning (at least early on).

As is often the case with Portlandia, the biggest trouble with this show's opening episode "The Foundling" is a pretentiousness that screams over and over "Look at me! Did you see what I did there? Look how clever I am!" Impossible to take seriously, and unable to offer anything resembling a real laugh while introducing us to the inner workings of the Morehouse clan and the forbidden love of Devon and his adopted sister, The Spoils of Babylon is occasionally fun but also quite insufferable.

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