Review: The Detour 1×1-1×2 (US: TBS)

If National Lampoon's Vacation were a TV series

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, TBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Jason Jones and Samantha Bee were two of the best correspondents The Daily Show has had in the past 10 years. Will anyone top Bee’s interpretative dance version of Fox News’ The Five (1m25s in)?

I think not. 

However, like a lot of people, the husband and wife team quit The Daily Show last year to do their own thing on TBS. Bee, of course, now has her own talk show, Full Frontal:

But she’s also been co-producing and writing with Jones a TBS sitcom in which he stars: The Detour. It’s a bit hard to describe The Detour. On the face of it, it’s a bit like National Lampoon’s Vacation, with Jones and wife Natalie Zea (Dirty Sexy Money, Justified, The Following) taking their kids on holiday, encountering all manner of disasters along the way, ranging from accidentally crashing their car through smoking too much pot at a cheap hotel all the way to being suspected of child abduction.

But it’s a bit more complicated in set-up than that. Like the decidedly more grown up The Affair and True Detective, it’s book-ended by scenes in a police interrogation room, with Jones being interrogated by a federal agent (Mary Grill). Why? We don’t know yet. There are also flashbacks to Jones losing his job, which is the reason they’re having to drive rather than fly.

What it ultimately comes down to, though, unsurprisingly, is both marriage and parenting. It’s much funnier with the latter than the former, where it’s mostly jokes about miscommunication, sex, dissatisfaction with sex, not being able to rely on your partner, and so on – nothing you won’t have seen dozens of times before.

But the parenting side of things is a bit more fun, just in terms of what it tries to do, with everything from accidentally taking your kids to a strip joint to how to stop them accessing the Internet and seeing porn. Again, it’s not the edgiest stuff but it feels a little more honest than a lot of shows I could mention.

Jones and Zea are fine and are just about plausible as a married couple. There’s the occasionally surprising cameo in the guest cast (episode 2 has Beverly Hills Cop‘s Judge Reinhold as an innuendo-addicted gay motor mechanic). It’s not amazing comedy, but if you want a TV version of National Lampoon’s Vacation that’s better than the recent movie, The Detour might be worth a try.