Third-episode verdict: The Detour (US: TBS)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

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

You know how some parents of young kids get? They spend all their time with their kids or doing things for their kids and their social life disappears completely. Blessed is the night off if they finally manage to get a babysitter and they’re not too knackered to do anything. Except now, instead of politics and culture and sports, all they can talk about how is fun their kid is in that video, look this video, see how hilarious he is, now see it again, look he can’t say ‘chihuahua’ right, isn’t that adorable?

That’s basically the problem with The Detour, Samantha Bee and Jason Jones’ new comedy series in which Jones and on-screen wife Natalie Zea go on holiday with their two kids, except Jones has been fired from his job and so they have to drive instead of fly. It’s basically National Lampoon’s Vacation, but with a slightly more convoluted storytelling his device, with Jones ultimately arrested by the FBI and retelling his adventures in flashback during his interrogation.

As I highlighted in my review of the first two episodes, most of the humour stems from the outrageous! behaviour of the kids and terrible!! parenting by Jones and Zea, as well as Jones and Zea’s marital strife. The trouble is, it’s tame – the kind of humour that you come up with when you’ve been stuck in your family bubble with nothing but your kids for company for months at a time. Gosh, isn’t that funny, telling your kids about oral sex? Well, no, it’s not exactly even Deadpool in its audacity, is it?

To be fair, the show is getting quite good at physical comedy, too, with episode three giving some chuckles from car problems. But you always feel that a far more uproarious punchline could have been delivered, rather than the PG-13 version that Bee and Jones always manage to come up with.

The Detour is funny, but only a bit and certainly not enough to make me want to watch it every week. There have been worse shows on TBS, but that’s about the best thing I can say about it.

Barrometer rating: 3
Would it be better with a female lead? Yes (Zea’s there and does a few things, but the show’s not really about her)
TMINE prediction: Already renewed for a second season, but lucky to have got that. A third season seems unlikely unless it really finds its mojo


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.