The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a new IFC show created by and starring David Cross of Arrested Development and Mr. Show fame, is both dry and amusing. A one-man show in the vein of FX’s summer series Louie, it’s clear that Cross is driving everything, and is at least making himself laugh in the process.
The show stars Cross as Todd Margaret, an awkward, naïve, and at times pathetically sympathetic guy who is sent to London to sell energy drinks after his boss, Brent Wilts (Cross’s Arrested Development and Running Wilde castmate, Will Arnett), mistakes him for a strong go-getter who grew up in Leeds. This is just the very beginning of the lies, and poor decisions, that drive the show. Each episode starts with Todd on trial, a judge listing his various crimes, so we know exactly where all this is going to end up. The fun is in watching Todd continue to dig himself deeper with each passing minute, but starts to become predictable when all he does is lie, and is horrible at it.
His adventures overseas bring him to a cafe where he mistakenly leaves his suitcase outside, which promptly gets flagged as a terrorist threat and is blown up. It’s a lot of these commonsense scenarios that escalate out of proportion for a laugh. But this cafe leads Todd to Alice (Sharon Horgan), the romantic interest who can’t help but feel sorry our main character. Of course, pity can only get Todd so far.
At his new office, Todd meets Dave (Blake Harrison), the young guy who sees through all of his lies and sets him up for embarrassment time and time again. The two, both horrible salesmen, try to sell Thunder Muscle, the supposedly gold mine of an energy drink bought in bulk by Wilts. What they are unaware of is that the drink is toxic, proven by a pretty funny physical comedy sequence where Todd overdoses on the product.
Trying to undo the previous mishaps brings the show into the second episode, which is more of the same: fibs, moments of pity, inappropriate comments about dying girls, and Tobias-like dirty phrases taken out of context. A sympathy date between Todd and Alice, intercut with major grocery store removing the toxic energy drink, builds some tension and humor as Todd remains blind to his surroundings and situation.
But what isn’t coming across is an emotional connection to Todd. Not quite as well intentioned and lovable as, say, The Office’s Michael Scott, I had no attachment when watching Todd succeed or fail miserably. Instead, Todd remains fairly ambivalent, and doesn’t provide much to come back to week after week. And while there are funny moments, nothing is quite as sharp in wit as Cross’s Arrested Development fan base would expect. The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret will certainly find its small audience and is good for a few laughs, but it’s not particularly ground-breaking.
However, you can always decide for yourself — check out the trailer below.
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