Connect with us

TV

‘Intelligence’ an Uncommonly Witless Sitcom

Intelligence Review

HBO Max may have won the bidding war to stream the entire run of Friends, but Peacock managed to land an original sitcom starring one of the original Friends cast members.

Call this one a win for HBO Max. 

The David Schwimmer-starring Intelligence, which debuted its entire first season along with the new streaming service Peacock on Wednesday is a show that strengthens the growing hypothesis that Peacock Originals are shows that weren’t good enough for spots on NBC or any of the Comcast/NBC Universal-owned cable channels. All six episodes are streaming on Peacock

The show, which is Schwimmer’s first starring role in a sitcom since Friends went off the air 15 years ago, is equal parts witless and unpleasant. And while some people re-watching Friends in recent years have come to the belated conclusion that Ross wasn’t nearly the nice guy he at first appeared to be, no one’s likely to make that mistake with Intelligence, because from moment one, Schwimmer plays his character as an arrogant, smarmy asshole- and he doesn’t do it in a way that’s funny. 

The premise of the show, created by British comedian  Nick Mohammed, is that an American NSA agent named Jerry Bernstein (Schwimmer) comes to the U.K. to work with a cyber crimes unit in the British government’s Government Communications Headquarters, where he clashes with just about everyone, including the female boss (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and another employee (Mohammad.) 

The basic plot of this six-episode series- a workplace comedy with American and British officials, in a national security setting, in which there’s a clash of cultures, and the protagonist is an obnoxious prick – was also the premise of Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop, which is one of the funniest movies of the last 20 years. 

The difference here is, nothing funny happens, there’s not an ounce of political satire, and Schwimmer’s character is over-the-top repugnant without ever delivering any laughs. 

Schwimmer’s character is less a Ross Geller than a Michael Scott- except he’s Michael Scott in the first season of The Office, before the writers had a handle on him and he was just a one-dimensional jerk with a weakness for racist comments and casual sexual harassment. Quality-wise, it’s about on the level of one of those subpar sitcoms that would get the time slot after Friends and then get cancelled after a few weeks. 

The comedy is based, almost entirely, on Schwimmer always saying the wrong thing, and stumbling into awkward, cringe-filled situations. If the writing were sharper, some of this stuff might find a way to work, but as it is, it just doesn’t- and this sort of boorishness doesn’t play nearly as well in the #MeToo era as it did, say when we first met Michael Scott. 

Intelligence calls to mind Netflix’s recent Space Force, another recent streaming show, set in the government, which had a premise with potential and assembled a first-rate cast, but squandered it all due to unbelievably terrible writing. Intelligence makes Space Force look like Seinfeld. 

Written By

Simon is a sometimes writer and podcaster living in Toronto.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Facebook

Trending

Anti-War Anti-War

Three Bestselling Anti-War Novels, Three A-List Film Adaptations…Three Flops:  Castle Keep, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse-Five

Culture

Vesper poster Vesper poster

Vesper: Sci-Fi That Thinks Big With Limited Means

Culture

Unforgiven movie review Unforgiven movie review

Unforgiven Ushered the Western into its Afterlife 

Culture

Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies Your Full List of All Upcoming Marvel Movies

A Full List Of Upcoming Marvel Studios Film And TV Releases

Culture

Robocop 1987 Robocop 1987

RoboCop is a Social Satire That Gets More Relevant With Age

Film

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: The 10 Greatest Comic Issues

Comics

Nope Nope

Jordan Peele’s Nope Explained: A Spectacle of “Bad Miracles”

Film

Alex's War (2022) Alex's War (2022)

Alex’s War, a Documentary Study of Alex Jones, Misses the Big Picture 

Film

Signs movie review Signs movie review

M. Night Shyamalan Signs Finds Comfort at the End of the World

Film

All Out 2022 Predictions All Out 2022 Predictions

Way Too Early Predictions for All Out 2022

Wrestling

Biography: WWE Legends’ Look at Goldberg is One of the Best Wrestling Documentaries Ever 

TV

Detective vs Sleuths Detective vs Sleuths

Detective vs. Sleuths: Buckle Up for a Bumpy Ride

Culture

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987 Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop 1987

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop is an Anti-Fascist Classic 

Film

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con

Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022: A Full Recap

Culture

High Noon at 70: When Time is of the Essence

Features

Bullet Train movie review Bullet Train movie review

Bullet Train Makes All the Wrong Stops

Culture

Connect