Season 2 of FOX’s mockumentary sitcom brings more of the same.
Welcome to Flatch feels, in many ways, like the kind of show that would’ve survived four seasons in the middle of NBC’s Thursday night lineup. It wasn’t your favorite, you didn’t know anyone who’d call it their favorite, but as part of a block programming where you loved the anchors, one could do a lot worse. It’s not terrible, it has its moments, but it isn’t exactly anything special either.
The mix of Father Joe’s (Seann William Scott) and the documentary crew’s arrival gave season 1 much of its structure. Unfortunately, in the first two episodes of season 2, the series has yet to find a similar organizing principle. As a result, the season is off to a strangely diffused feeling start. Ensemble sitcoms can work—see fellow mockumentaries The Office and Parks and Recreation, for instance—but they need to have something at the center. The town of Flatch as an entity isn’t enough so far.
It’s a bit of a shame because there’s plenty of talent in the cast. Scott has rarely encountered projects recognizing his talent, so Flatch could be a nice showcase for him. Alas, now that he’s no longer a fish out of water, he feels, well, a bit generic. His enjoyment of home brewing feels like an attempt to give him a running joke in place of a clearer sense of characterization. Sadly, it doesn’t even connect on that level.
His girlfriend Cheryl (Aya Cash) fares a bit better. She gives voice to that new parent’s manic desire to both never be without your kids (not actual human babies in her case) and to get the hell out of the house to experience something, anything different.
The clear MVP of Welcome To Flatch season 2 goes to Big Mandy (Krystal Smith). She saves a listless first episode almost entirely by herself and lends wonderfully weird energy to episode 2’s blackout-forced church lock-in. A series can’t survive on cutaways to one supporting player alone, but she’s keeping the series afloat for now.
It’s not terrible, it has its moments, but it isn’t exactly anything special either.
Welcome to Flatch hasn’t quite located its tone, either. It has the making of an “everyone in this town is a bizarre lovable weirdo” a la My Name is Earl, but the jokes and pace are frequently too muted to carry that off. It also makes odd stabs at the melancholy with things like the death of Shrub’s (Sam Straley) lizard. The most egregious moment of tone derailment, though, happens after the first break during episode 2. Coming back from the ads, the show flashes a message on the screen about a small town’s susceptibility to power outage due to distance from the primary grid and crumbling infrastructure. It’s true, but it also feels strange. It’s too stark a message for Flatch to carry AND delivered too fleetingly to really get the audience to take notice.
Again, Welcome to Flatch isn’t bad. But watching it is likely to remind you of half a dozen or so shows that more consistently deliver what Flatch gives the audience. Plus, they do it funnier. When network TV was the dominant act in town, that sort of thing could fly. Network shows need to do better now. It is just as easy to watch Parks and Recreation as to tune in to Fox on Thursdays at 9.
Welcome to Flatch will be happy to welcome you to Fox starting September 29th.
This show is based on a MUCH FUNNIER UK show called This Country. That show is pure genius and although I doubted it would translate as well here, I had hopes for Flatch because I knew that This Country’s creator was supposed to have had a hand in it. Season 1 was barely watchable and now with the complete mistaken addition of Jaime Pressley season 2 is where I am calling it. Maybe if I had never watched to UK show I could stomach it but after seeing such a superior version I can’t justify wasting any more time in Flatch!