In a moment of exasperation, Christine Baskets says what viewers have been thinking:
“Sometimes, I think you just want to fail at life,” she tells her son Chip.
She’s right, you know. That’s what has kept FX’s “Baskets” from being a good show … and, alas, what dragged down the first season of Showtime’s “Kidding.”
Now “Baskets” is wrapping up its fourth and final season. It has a terrific episode this Thursday (Aug. 15), then a so-so finale a week later. “Kidding” will start its second season Nov. 2.
Both have talented movie stars – Jim Carrey, no less, in “Kidding,” Zach Galifianakis in “Baskets.”
Both go with a notion that has worked since Charlie Chaplin’s days – the down-and-out, sad-sack hero. And then, alas, they overdo it.
In “Kidding,” Carrey plays the beloved star of a children’s TV show. He’s been wracked by the death of his child and by his divorce; he even secretly bought the house next to his ex-wife, to spy on her. It was a dreary start, but Carrey promises things will be better this season
“You’re going to see a lot of hopefulness and a lot of positive and really way-out-there, surreal creativity,” he told the Television Critics Association. “We’re singing, We’re doing things that they shouldn’t allow us to do.”
In “Baskets,” things never did get better. Chip (Galifianakis) returned from an expensive French clown college, with no future … and with a French wife who was only using him to get to the U.S. He joined a broken-down rodeo, which his mother eventually bought.
This has been populated by great characters. Galifianakis is both Chip and his twin brother Dale, a former scammer, now broke … Martha Kelly – a drolly funny comedian – is Chip’s perpetually monotone friend Martha … and Louie Anderson is Christine, the mom.
(That’s not gimmick casting; Anderson has a sweetly vague approach that is perfect. He’s received Emmy nominations in each of the first three seasons, winning once, and has great moments Thursday.)
Still, the utter hopelessness of Chips’ life has given us nowhere to go. He perked up when he became CEO of the rodeo … but now the state plans to buy the property to make room for a bullet train.
That leads to Thursday, with the family descending on the state Capitol to protest. It’s a terrific episode – big and broad and warm and funny.
A week later, alas, “Baskets” returns to its normal state for is final episode.
— “Baskets,” 10 p.m. Thursdays, FX, rerunning at about 11, with the previous episode ar about 10:30
— Final two episodes are Aug. 15 and 22