Categorised | US TV reviews

Preview: Impastor 1x1 (US: TV Land)

Posted on July 2, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Impastor

In the US: Wednesdays, 10.30/9.30c, TV Land
In the UK: Not yet acquired

There’s a long tradition of comedy shows about men and women of the cloth. Think All Gas and Gaiters, Oh, Brother!, Oh, Father!, Troubles and Strife, Rev, Father Ted, The Vicar of Dibley. Ironic, isn’t it, though – all those shows are from this side of the Atlantic, rather than the very much more religious US. You could probably have a long think and come up with some US comedy shows about reverends, but you’d be hard pushed.

Maybe it’s too serious a subject for the US to tackle – at least, head on. But when they can come at it at an angle, maybe not.

TV Land – the comedy network for people who like things the way they used to be when they were young – is currently trying to bring a relatively younger audience, and given it was probably the last US network to have a go at a religious sitcom with The Soul Man, it seems fitting that they’re giving it another go with Impastor. The Soul Man was, of course, about an R&B singer who becomes a preacher. Whether it was ’too black’ for TV Land’s audience, only TV Land can say, but Impastor is certainly a whole lot whiter. But that doesn’t mean TV Land is forsaking diversity. Oh no.

Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Breaking In) is gambling addict and small-time criminal Buddy. When all seems lost and even his girlfriend Aimee Garcia (Dexter) has deserted him, he decides to take his own life by jumping off a bridge. Fortunately, at the last moment, a vicar on the way to his new job intercedes. Unfortunately for the vicar, he plummets to his own doom instead and Buddy seizes the opportunity to take his place… and perhaps his possessions, money, etc. Except Buddy turns out to have an accidental talent for ‘pastoring’.

If only he didn’t have to pretend to be gay, too.

Here’s a trailer and if you’re quick, below it is the entire episode:

About
Buddy Dobbs (Michael Rosenbaum), a slacker on the run from a loan shark, steals a man’s identity and ends up posing as a small town’s new gay pastor. With Sara Rue, Mircea Monroe, Mike Kosinski and David Rasche.

Is it any good?
It’s a miracle! For once, I think we have a TV Land comedy that’s actually both palatable and funny.

The first thing you have to do is put aside the issue that anyone recruiting someone over the Internet should at least be able to do a Google Image search to find out what that person looks like, particularly if said person is even slightly famous (eg a pastor who came out as gay in Florida). This would naturally kill the whole premise of the story stone dead (at least Banshee has a McGuffin hacker who can fix that kind of thing).

But leaving that one big logistical issue to one side, the show’s actually quite fun. Michael Rosenbaum is, of course, best known as the very unfunny Lex Luthor in Smallville but he’s always had a gift for comedy, particularly in his voice work. Here he’s likeable and funny as a small-time crook who, while not meaning especially well, doesn’t mean any real harm. He also avoids camping up, too, which would have been an easy route for a US comedy, where the camp gay man is the ubiquitous stereotype.

But he’s able assisted by a script with some actual jokes in it – novel for TV Land, I know. As with Banshee and indeed Tootsie, much of the comedy and the drama come from the disconnect between who Rosenbaum is and who he pretends to be and how he uses his former life to almost be a better gay pastor than the real one would have been. However, there’s also a couple of inappropriate policemen investigating his disappearance and their combined inappropriateness and insensitiveness with Garcia are good for a few yucks.

There's a good supporting cast, too. David Rasche – Sledgehammer himself – actually plays it straight as the patrician church head who doesn’t quite believe Rosenbaum is who he claims to be. Sara Rue, Mircea Monroe and others all provide additional laughs.

The show’s biggest challenge will be preserving the delicate tonal balance between Buddy’s dark background and his new employment, since the final few seconds of the episode move the show into potentially dangerous territory. But I’ll be sticking around for that, at least, which is a step up from practically every previous TV Land show I’ve watched.

Related entries

  • July 24, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending July 24 2015
  • July 3, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Scream, Mr Holmes, Ballers, True Detective and Mr Robot
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending July 3 2015
  • September 18, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Blunt Talk, The Island/Το Νησί, Y Gwyll/Hinterland, Impastor, Continuum and You're The Worst
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending Friday 18 September 2015
  • September 11, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Narcos, Hand of God, You're The Worst, The Last Ship and Impastor
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending Friday 11 September 2015
  • September 4, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Sneaky Pete, Mr Robot, Impastor and Humans
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending Friday 4 September 2015
  • September 1, 2015: What have you been watching? Including The Bakkhai, Impastor, Glitch and The Whispers
    A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the past five weeks
  • January 12, 2016: Preview: Teachers 1x1 (US: TV Land)
    A preview of the first episode of TV Land's Teachers
  • June 16, 2016: Review: Still The King 1x1-1x2 (US: CMT)
    A review of the first two episodes of CMT's Still The King
  • October 3, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall
    The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 3rd October 2016
  • October 31, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Doctor Strange, Central Intelligence and X-Men: Apocalypse
    The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 31st October 2016
  • October 24, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Falling Water, Hyde and Seek and Westworld
    The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 24th October 2016
  • October 10, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Luke Cage, Arrow, The Flash and Westworld
    The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 10th October 2016
  • October 17, 2016: What have you been watching? Including Supergirl, Halt and Catch Fire and DC's Legends of Tomorrow
    The TV I watched in the week ending Monday 17th October 2016

Read other posts about: ,

Allowable comments

You can leave just about any kind of comment you like. You can argue, suggest I am (or anyone else is) wrong, leaving general messages of love – anything. However, you absolutely can't leave messages that attack other commenters (or me), are simple variations of "your review sucks" or that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc: your comment will either be edited or deleted and you'll be barred from leaving any further comments. We want to keep it civil here.

Spoilers

You can hide a spoiler by putting <spoiler> before it and </spoiler> after it. Hover over a spoiler to reveal it!

Featured Articles

Twin Peaks

Lynch at his best in years