Hank Azaria’s 'Free Agents:' What the Critics Are Saying
While one laments that "bad shows happen to good people," another notes the comedy "has its moments."
Critics are mixed about Free Agents, which premieres Wednesday night on NBC and co-stars Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn as coworkers at a publicity firm who are recently divorced (him) or widowed (her) and deciding if they should have a fling. It's based off a British sitcom of the same name that will also soon premiere on BBC America.
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"Sometimes, somehow, bad shows happen to good people," writes Robert Bianco in USA Today.
"It's always disappointing, and often inexplicable, but it also seems to be a seasonal inevitability. Talented people will gather, hard work will be done (and even the worst shows almost always involve hard work), expectations will rise — and when the show finally arrives, it will all come crashing down in an unwatchable heap," he adds, "leaving you with Free Agents, one of those dispiriting series where you'd rather think about what the actors and writers have done and forget what they're doing now."
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He calls Azaria and Hahn "the kind of talents you want working in TV. You just don't want them working on a show that is as off-putting, and at times vaguely creepy, as Agents."
David Wiegand writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that the series "has a decent cast, but the writing is only adequate and the premise is barely enough to make a full half hour work, much less a full season."
He calls it "stuck on comic neutral."
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"It's virtually impossible to care about the characters, and not only is the show without a single laugh line, its attempts at humor come off as brittle and nasty," he goes on, adding, "British audiences, as well as many American viewers, find the repetition [of the dialogue] hysterical. But many other Americans, for the most part, are conditioned to want more from their sitcoms."
The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley is a bigger fan of the show.
"The American adaptation is bowdlerized, omitting the more blisteringly cruel and crude dialogue of the British version," she writes, adding that it "still has its moments."
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She touts the performance of Anthony Head, who plays boss Stephen in both the U.K. and U.S. versions. "While he is far nastier in the British one, he still is quite deliciously horrible as a hedonistic skirt chaser who makes his employees recount their sexual exploits at company meetings," she writes.
“Free Agents is not The Office, but the lead characters are appealing, and the show is funny in its own, quite grown-up way," she goes on.
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Rick Porter on Zap2It says the show has "solid parts [that] don't make a up a whole quite yet."
"A less-traveled take on a familiar genre, good cast and good auspices should add up to a strong show, right? You would think," he warns.
"It's a show I would really like to like, and there are elements present in the pilot that make me want to see how it's doing by, say, episode four or five, but it's not there yet," Porter adds.