“I like underdogs” Welcome to Flatch‘s Shrub (Sam Straley) proudly states two minutes into the show’s premiere, as a way of explaining why he eats his cousin Kelly (Holmes) threw mini cinnamon powder donuts. (In his metaphor, the unloved treats are the underdogs.) It’s a line that succinctly sums up the lead duo and setting of this Fox comedy, in which a documentary crew sets off to investigate why the Americans dream of a simpler life when they stumble upon the titular small town of Ohio.
Shrub and Kelly are their de facto tour guides as they attempt to show a neglected part of rural America, a part trying to survive amid declining economic prospects. (That “underdog” line is kind of talking about comedies airing, in general, these days, too. There really hasn’t been a sitcom airing in breakouts since The right place has emerged in 2016, although the situation is slowly changing with the arrival of ABC Abbott Elementary School and CBS’ Ghosts.)
Welcome to Flatch isn’t a worthwhile addition to the prime-time slate just yet, but it’s not hopeless either. The Fox comedy has a remarkable pedigree, after all: it comes from sex and the city writer Jenny Bicks, and account freaks and geeks‘ Paul Feig as writer and director. While Welcome to Flatch isn’t immediately catchy or a laugh riot, it starts to take shape a few episodes later.
Based on the BBC This country, the mockumentary is about a group of people who are rarely in the spotlight. The citizens of Flatch are bumbling eccentrics, most of whom have barely lived life outside the city limits because they lack the means to do so, and Welcome to Flatch tries to put an endearing spin on their problems, big and small, like lack of resources and social isolation.
Meanwhile, Kelly and Shrub tend to spend all day doing nothing worthwhile except for an attempt to start an Uber-like ride-sharing service in Flatch, where many people have no idea. no vehicle. What they do love is playing pranks on the bus driver, drawing graffiti and mocking the local minister, Father Joe Binghoffer (Seann William Scott). Beneath all this mess lies a broken family dynamic, and you understand why they are completely dependent on each other. Welcome to Flatch makes the most of Straley and Holmes’ on-screen bond, making Kelly and Shrub the most fleshed-out characters and the heartbeat of the show. Feig and the other directors expertly use the mockumentary aesthetic to subtly capture the sincerity and vulnerability of two otherwise boisterous young adults.
The show also sets the mood with Father Joe and his ex, Cheryl (Aya Cash), who moved to Flatch to be with his version of a Hot Priest before he dumped her. She is now the local newspaper’s editor with a subscription of around 534. Unfortunately, Scott and Cash share little to no chemistry so far, though Cash crushes her performance as Cheryl finds out whether or not she belongs in this community. . (Keep an eye out for a fun you are the worst reunion with recurring Desmin Borges as a rival editor named, of all things, Jimmy.)
Welcome to Flatch serves an assortment of other eccentric locals, like Kelly’s nemesis Nadine (Taylor Ortega), Shrub’s budding friend Mickey (Justin Linville), and Joe’s would-be assistant Big Mandy (Krystal Smith ). Smith does well with limited material, but none of the secondary characters are sufficiently developed halfway through the first season, making for a rocky start.
The show, however, spells out its specifics: details like Father Joe’s love of golf and Chris Pine, Big Mandy’s affinity for meat sticks and Garth Brooks, Kelly’s ability to identify what train he’s on. acts from his whistle add flair. But the jokes themselves do not often land. There’s very little in the name of outright comedy, whether it’s one-liners, sight gags, or even the classic “staring at the camera” style made popular by Jim Halpert, Ben Wyatt, and now Abbottit’s Gregory Eddie. Stuffing is an extremely slow burn (think of the demanding early seasons of Office and Parks and recreation, shows Feig also made). Fox likely kicks off the first seven episodes to binge on Hulu on its linear premiere day for that reason.
Much of the series therefore focuses on establishing Flatch as one of the main characters. (Yes, yes, how SATC of Bicks.) The frame is quite dull, similar to Letterkenny or early Schitt’s Creek, a small town filled with quirky competitions like pan-throwing and scarecrow design, as well as legendary myths passed down from generation to generation. Particular events have allowed Shrub, Kelly, and the rest of the gang to flourish in surprising ways, but the show is determined to be all-hearted to a degree that feels a little forced. Welcome to Flatch pretty much clicks around episode six (“RIP Cynthia”), however, focusing on the whole set during a nonsensical funeral plot. It’s here that the show finally finds something of a comedic groove.
The start of each episode notes particular problems plaguing the city – insufficient medical care, poor infrastructure, real problems—and while Welcome to Flatch doesn’t necessarily seek answers to these issues, it provides a fairly unique (and heartfelt) snapshot, despite a few stumbles along the way.