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Culture Clash: Brief Thoughts on IFC's The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

I really wanted to like IFC's David Cross-led comedy The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a co-production with Channel 4's More4 in the UK.

After all, the series was created by Cross and Shaun Pye (Extras) and stars Cross, Will Arnett, The Inbetweeners's Blake Harrison, and Sharon Horgan (Pulling). So I should really love it as I would seem to be the target audience for such a dark and depraved comedy of errors set against a backdrop of cultural differences between Americans and Brits.

But try though I might, there's something entirely off about Todd Margaret, at least in the three episodes that were submitted to the press for review. I couldn't shake off the feeling that this wasn't so much the story of an American adrift in England but rather an effort to smash together US and UK comedy styles. It doesn't quite gel, however. The effect feels a bit like a traditional US sitcom and a quirky UK one at the same time but also like neither.

Which isn't to say that there aren't a few laughs, because there are a few chuckles to be had here now and then.

Cross' titular character, salesman Todd Margaret, finds himself stranded abroad in an unfamiliar country when his new boss (Arnett) sends him to Blighty to hawk unsafe energy drinks to a new market. Upon arriving, this sad sack manages to blisteringly burn his hand, meet adorable cafe owner Alice (Horgan), have his luggage blown up, and then wet himself after his manipulative assistant Dave (Harrison) convinces him to drink several Thunder Muscle drinks. After which he wets himself and causes significant damage to the cafe.

The subsequent episodes--all of which begin with a courtroom scene in which a litany of charges against Todd are being read--continues the same themes as Todd tries to blend in (terribly), is played a fool by Dave again and again, and attempts to woo Alice, all while pretending (A) to be a local lad from Leeds, (B) have a dead father, and (C) know what he's doing at all.

The over-the-top situations that follow attempt to approximate some element of satire or farce but Todd Margaret is such a sad sack, so horrifically ill-at-ease with everyone around him (and himself), and so utterly clueless, that the air is taken out of the sails more than a little bit.

In other words, what this flabby comedy needs is some muscle.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret begins tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on IFC.

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