3 out of 5
Created by: Mike O’Brien
…And in the Always Sunny lull, Charlie Day made movies, Kaitlin Olson made The Mick, and Glenn Howerton dropped in TV mid-season with A.P. Bio.
While Charlie will likely continue to struggle to movie away from his Sunny crazy guy persona, he has gotten the opportunity to at least offer some straight-er acting in spots in his various film appearances. The Mick very much started out feeling like a riff on Olson’s Dee, but after two seasons – and more importantly to this write-up, even during its first season – the show has proven a willingness to expand on its characters and premise and find some surprising depth amongst its depravities.
Over the years of Sunny, Howerton – co-creator – as Dennis, has had some fantastically hilarious moments, and has continued to shine at points, although I haven’t been as appreciative of his character’s transformation over the years as some of the other characters. And unfortunately, a lot of that carries over to A.P. Bio: a particular shallowness that seems to prey on one particular joke. The show, concerning a disgraced Harvard grad (Howerton) who takes up a teaching position at a high school… only to pretty much blow it off (starting every class with “start shutting up now”) and tasking his students, episode by episode, with different revenge strategies against those whom he feels have wronged him out of his past glories, is wholly summarized in that previous sentence. And that’s the joke. Adult teacher is rude to students; crafts plots which inevitably backfire; backwards moral lesson half-learned by episode’s end. This is the same conceptual construct into which Dennis on Sunny has become slotted: I once was “cool” and now I’m not and I will snide all over everyone around me. On the good side, this accomplishes what A.P. Bio may have been counting on: that if you liked Glenn on Always Sunny, you’ll like him in A.P. Bio. But the downside thus follows that, if like me, you’re sort of only casually amused by that status quo, that’s about the level of humor achieved by the show. And unlike The Mick, Bio doesn’t seem to be interested in elevating the rest of its cast to much beyond support for Glenn’s character; the other actors in Mick are now equally as engaging as Olsin, but Bio doesn’t have a show when we’re not focused on Howerton.
This isn’t me completely shitting on the series, as it hits its chuckles consistently, and finds some funny ways to push barriers as the kids get interested in the revenge schemes, and very late in the game – i.e. the final episode of the season – we see some room for emotional growth, which would be interesting to explore if there’s a season two, because Howerton is really great to watch when given a bit more range.
Funny enough to distract, but don’t expect any surprises.