Portlandia 2.09 ReviewA tv review article by: Dylan Garsee, Nick Hanover
Fred and Carrie are tasked by the mayor with ensuring that the Olympics never come to Portland. But it takes a series of terrible sketches involving canoes, bicycles and combinations thereof to convince Fred and Carrier the Olympics really are a magical event that must be treasured. In between there is a semi-creepy conversation in a hot tub and some stupidity with Sacagawea. Snore.
Dylan Garsee: I Portlandia'd.
Nick Hanover: Are you sure you didn't smang?
Dylan: I cooch contusioned.
Nick: Speaking of cooch contusions, do you remember that time last week where we bored ourselves with our own Portlandia review?
Dylan: When I literally fell asleep writing it?
Nick: Is that going to happen again this week? Because this was sad. I mean, half the sketches in this episode didn't even have jokes, as far as I could tell.
Dylan: They were going through the motion of making a Portlandia episode. Even Agent Cooper couldn't make this episode good.
Nick: It wasn't his fault. The concept he was given to work with -- keeping Portland from ever hosting the Olympics -- was weak to begin with and was weirdly quasi-topical but also simultaneously irrelevant. And then he was forced to sing a horrific, sub-William Shatner anthem at the end for several minutes.
Dylan: Scratch my "going through the motions bit"; this was a straight up parody of Portlandia. The main plot: Carrie and Fred work with the mayor to make some sort of sporting event. The cold open: Only one joke and strangely repetitive.
Nick: At least the cold open had a joke.
Dylan: Like the only sketch I liked of the night (the canoe sketch) it had a joke... but was way too short.
Nick: Bicycles and canoes were pretty much the stars of the episode tonight, since they factored in nearly every single sketch. In fact, Fred and Carrie like bicycles and canoes so much, they seem to think all a sketch needs is one or the other or both to be "funny."
Dylan: If you're going to have "Oh l'Amour" in a sketch, play the whole damn song.
Dylan: The canoe/performance art/Erasure video sketch reminded me of last week's Charlie Brown/dance studio skit. It was the funniest of the night, but only lasted about 30 seconds for absolutely no reason. I guess the over-arching theme of tonight's episode was transportation, or exercise, or something like that.
Nick: Olympic transportation. Oh, shit, Olympic mountains, Olympics, Olympic transportation -- look at how clever I am! That's like a sketch all by itself right there by this episode's standards, yes, sir.
Dylan: You're the next Fred Armisen.
Nick: All I need is a hilarious moustache.
Dylan: Quick, marry an actress from Mad Men.
Nick: But Christina Hendricks is already married! What do I do?
Dylan: I guess you'll have to settle for Pete.
Dylan: You know you love Pete and all of his butthurt.
Nick: Seriously though, this episode was utterly fucking stupid.
Dylan: Nothing happened, the cameos fell flat, the references to other episode felt masturbatory, and the sketches either ran way too long or only ran for about 5 seconds.
Dylan: They should have stopped after six episodes like last season.
Nick: I'll tell you why this episode really pissed me off so much, though, and it goes beyond those problems: It represents every single accusation non-Portlandia fans hurl at the show -- that it relies too much on its location, that it uselessly mocks subcultures without saying anything, that the characters are all the same. Worse, some of the bad editing habits that had disappeared for a few episodes returned, like the Looney Tunes sound effects combined with Benny Hill fast forwarding.
Dylan: That damn Benny Hill fast-forward that lasts for maybe a second infuriates me the most out of all of this show's problems.
Nick: The general aimlessness proved that the season should have ended sooner, like you've been saying. That Lewis & Clark sketch was painful in its inability to find a joke or point and it was one of the longer sketches!
Dylan: Because there was no joke! Fred and Carrie work at a museum? Sacagawea wasn't there? They were unprepared? I have no idea. It doesn't matter, because none of them were funny.
Nick: I half expected a Sacagawea imitator to wander into the sketch and then quietly disappear.
Dylan: That would have been funny. And Portlandia doesn't know how to do that.
Nick: Portlandia does know how to do funny, though, which is the problem. These last couple episodes had no reason to exist and they have caused the season to go out on a bad note. In comedy, you're only as good as your last joke and Portlandia completely failed on that front, unless the finale can manage to entirely cleanse the palette.
Dylan: Maybe the last episode will just be a remake of the past three episodes, except hilarious. Or it will be terrible. Most likely terrible.
Nick: Can we put together a petition banning bikes from Portlandia for now on? Also: moustaches.
Dylan: So no more Spike?
Nick: Only if he accidentally kills Kath and Dave and the feminist bookstore employees by causing a massive pile-up during rush hour.
Dylan: Well, there'd never be a crash because those two people at the intersection won't let each other go.
Nick: Fuck, you're right. Maybe Spike spontaneously combusts while in the feminist bookstore as Kath and Dave are shopping.
Dylan: I'm trying to think of another recurring Portlandia sketch to reference, but I think we just said every one of them.
Nick: What are we giving this heap of awfulness?
Dylan: Only because "Oh l'Amour" makes everything hilarious.
Nick: as well. At least the finale couldn't possibly be worse. Right? RIGHT??
Dylan: It's just going to be a rerun of the Big Bang Theory.
Nick: The ballsiness of that would almost make it worthwhile.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on Twitter at @garseed.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.