In the previous blog, I grumbled about the state of Friday TV. Fortunately, there are also temporary solutions on cable.
Earlier, the Independent Film Channel gave eight Fridays to a fairly funny series from The Kids in the Hall. Now comes a new and better show from David Cross; "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" debuts at 10 p.m. Friday (Oct. 1); here's a story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
In TV fiction, David Cross is forever
immersed in chaos and despair.
In real life, things have been quite
splendid lately. That includes two simultaneous situation comedies, a
gorgeous girlfriend (Amber Tamblyn) and kind words from his
“Everything that comes out of his
mouth is hysterical,” said Jim Vallely, a “Running Wilde”
Cross has a small role in that one, as
Keri Russell's berserk boyfriend, but gets laughs. “What he does is
so above and beyond what was asked of him, in the crazy, most
ridiculous way,” Russell said.
Meanwhile, the Independent Film Channel
is launching a show Cross created, produced and stars in – “The
Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.” His British co-star,
Sharon Horgan, says it deserves to be its own genre: “It's not like
a British comedy or an American comedy.”
Those two styles used to be vastly
different. The British mastered dryness and the comedy of silliness.
“I grew up deeply influenced by Monty Python,” said Cross, 46.
“Huge influence – if you've seen 'Mr. Show,' you can see it
As a “Ben Stiller Show” writer, he
met another Python buff, Bob Odenkirk. Their “Mr. Show” reached
HBO in 1995, ran four seasons and drew two Emmy nominations for its
Elsewhere, there was a flip-flop –
young Englishmen preferring American situation comedies. “I'm part
of that British generation (that was) influenced a lot by American
comedy,” said Blake Harrison, who's in his mid-20s and a “Todd
Margaret” co-star. He cites “Friends,” “Frasier” and
That fondness helps explain how “Todd
Margaret” got started. Cross said he was doing stand-up comedy in
London, when two producers suggested a show filmed there, about a
The advantages were huge, Cross said.
That included few restrictions (“they just sort of trust”) … an
“insane amount of talent” in the acting pool … and the
advantages of doing only six episodes per season. The U.S. has
assembly-line comedy, Cross said, with 12-14 people in the writers'
room; this series has Cross and Shaun Pye, an Englishman.
Their story has a boss (Will Arnett)
mistakenly put Todd (Cross) in charge of the London office. First,
Todd must break up with someone whom only he thinks is his
girlfriend. Appropriately, she's played by Tamblyn, 27. “It's just
a great way to work with my girlfiend and get (her) a free ticket to
People were informed of their
relationship in the about-the-author note of his book, which
concludes: “He is currently (bleep)ing Amber Tamblyn.”
Yes, Cross said, he did get her
approval for that line. (“I wouldn't drop something like that on
her.”) And yes, the few autobiographic sections in this humor book
are true. That includes passages citing:
– “An unstable childhood in which
my family moved at least once a year, if not more,” centering on
the Atlanta suburb of Roswell.
– Spending a summer, at 15, with “my
fantastically lazy and supremely irresponsible piece of useless
(bleep) of a dad,” in an Arizona apartment. Cross ate only candy,
hocked everything he had, helped his dad skip out on rent, then
returned to his mom “with literally one nickel left.”
It was a painful start for a life that
would later become quite splendid.
David Cross, everywhere
– “Running Wilde,” 9:30 p.m.
– “The Increasingly Poor Decisions
of Todd Margaret,” 10 p.m. for six Fridays on IFC, starting Oct. 1
– “I Drink For a Reason” (2009),
Grand Central Publishing, $23.99
– On video: In particular, catch
“Arrested Development” (he plays Tobias) and “Mr. Show”