20 March 2002 | zetes
ANDY RICHTER IS THY LORD (initial reaction from a brother of the Church of Andy's Ass)
As I am an avid Conan O'Brian fan, I am also an avid Andy Richter fan. You can find my review for Late Night with Conan O'Brian on IMDb, written the night of Andy's final episode, where I admit that I teared up. That's pathetic, I know, but Conan and Andy (and the rest of the Late Night crew, Max, Joel, Robot on the Toilet, et al.) are like dear friends to me. I feel that I could walk up to any one of them and they'd be perfectly cordial.
When I heard about Andy Richter Controls the Universe, sometime in April or May of 2001, I couldn't wait. And then, a month or so ago, promos started to run on Fox (and during whatever other air time they could afford) constantly. It began to get annoying and, what was worse, the promos were not very funny. I was scared. Andy Richter needs (and, moreover, deserves) a hit show.
Fortunately, the show was funny, at least the first episode was. It's about a Chicagoan who writes manuals in a large office building. Office comedies aren't exactly original - heck, half the shows of the 1990s and this new decade seem to take place in offices. But Andy's coworkers are funny and interesting people, so no worries there. The premise of the show is a bit more ambitious: Andy's imagination runs wild and he is constantly reimagining his life. We see these reworkings and other fantasies, and they are quite funny. Still, there have been similar sit-coms in the past. I think there has been at least one that is dangerously close in its premise, but the closest I can think of offhand is the brilliant (and underrated) HBO sitcom Dream On. Where did that show go?
What makes this show (this episode, anyway) worthwhile is thy God, Andy Richter. Sure, I'm biased, but Andy's just hilarious. And charming. There's a nice tinge of pathos around him, which gives the show more weight than it otherwise would have. Another thing to be thankful for is that there are no laughtracks. I suppose we should thank Malcolm in the Middle especially for that. The creators of that show had to fight Fox in order to be rid of the manipulative recordings, and it paid off (though that show is already, in only, what, it's fourth year, past its prime). Let's hope that Andy Richter Controls My Universe stays as funny in subsequent episodes, and perhaps even get better.