Why TBS Is Premiering 'Angie Tribeca' With a 25-Hour Marathon

Showrunner Ira Ungerleider and star Rashida Jones explain why the spoof comedy is doing something so unprecedented.
 TBS

TBS is hoping to break through the clutter in a big way with cop comedy Angie Tribeca.

The series, the first of the Turner-owned network's entirely new original scripted offerings for 2016 under new network topper Kevin Reilly, will debut Jan. 17 with an unprecedented 25-hour, ad-free marathon.

The comedy, starring Parks and Recreation grad Rashida Jones, is a spoof of cop shows and was created from a joke between executive producers Steve and Nancy Carell.

"We were all taken aback [by the marathon rollout]; we were all surprised and had never heard of such a thing before," showrunner Ira Ungerleider told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "We tossed it around and thought it was a cool way to introduce a show. We have a lot of actor-writer-producers with a big body of work and we've seen all different ways of rolling out a show, … [and] it's hard to say which way of getting your show to emerge from the clutter is the best way. When we finally embraced the idea of this binge marathon, we thought, 'Let's go out there and put the show out there.' Certainly, the way we view TV today is binging. I watched 50 hours of Game of Thrones in a row. … We like to consume these things in big chunks, so you can watch in a big chunk or you can watch in pieces."

Added Jones: "The show really lends itself to that kind of watching: It's a procedural; you can start anew at the beginning of every episode. There's wall-to-wall attempted jokes in every episode. If you like that, you're going to want more of that, and I think it's a good way to watch the show."

The concept of doing an ad-free 25-hour binge serves as a way to break through the clutter that comes amid the so-called "Peak TV" era in which there are more than 400 original scripted comedies and dramas across broadcast, cable, premium networks and streaming services. Angie Tribeca will debut all 10 of its season-one episodes back-to-back multiple times across the marathon before returning a week later with its second season.

Angie Tribeca has drawn comparisons to Airplane and Get Smart, with Angie's partner, played by Hayes MacArthur, originally conceived to die in the pilot and Angie to have a new partner who meets the same fate in every episode. Steve Carell also noted that Angie was conceived based on the lead character's name of Angie Tribeca — something that he and Nancy had a lot of fun with but never originally considered as a show.  

"The name made us laugh, and we built the character based on the name and it expanded over time," he told reporters. "We weren't thinking of pitching a show; we were just riffing." Nancy, who serves as an exec producer and guest-stars as the mayor's wife on the series, confessed that she's a big fan of Law & Order: SVU and said her series seems like a "huge mix" of both humor and procedural.

The Office alum Steve Carell — himself a fan of Get Smart who starred in the feature based on the iconic TV series — said the show's humor is challenging to get right.

"You hope it works. It's tricky and it's incredibly silly — and at the same time, an enormous amount of thought goes into it," he said, crediting the creators of Get Smart for setting the standard for spoof comedy. "What works and what doesn't work, we'll see. You have to use yourself as a barometer, and we use our own voices as a barometer. … It's about so much more than being funny. It's about understanding when to pull back and not have a self-awareness of being funny."

As for whether the actor-producer would ever appear onscreen, don't look for that to happen anytime soon. "Only if a role as the mayor's wife opens up," he joked of the role portrayed by his wife.

As for the binge-watching concept, MacArthur summed it up perfectly in the tone of the show: "Twenty-five hours is the average length of a very strong pot brownie."

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