Important Things With Demetri Martin -- TV Review

As is the case with nearly all sketch-comedy series, this one from "The Daily Show" alum Demetri Martin -- and produced by Jon Stewart's Busboy Prods. -- is very much hit-and-miss, with the misses outnumbering the hits in the first installment and the hits predominating in the second.

"Important Things With Demetri Martin" is a sometimes bizarre pastiche of standup comedy, mini-sketches, animated images, studio bits and music centered by the dweeby but obviously talented Martin, who bears a physical resemblance to the young Bronson Pinchot. Each episode centers on a different loose theme: In the opener, it's timing; in the second half-hour, it's power. Of course, that subject banner is a mere jumping-off point for comic pieces that head off into territory that scarcely ties in, but that's kind of the point.

And even at its worst, "Important Things" carries a smart sensibility and a swagger that prove consistently endearing. In the premiere, perhaps the funniest moment is a sketch in which the concept of timing applies to two guys who arrive nearly simultaneously at the same parking place and proceed to argue over whose it is. The funny part, however, is the terms flashed onscreen to describe what each is thinking while purporting to act tough.

Words, letters and graphics all have a hand in the humor. But easily the most inventive piece of whimsy occurs near the end of the second weekly episode. It's a mock commercial for a rat extermination product that turns your walls into an allegorical Middle East war zone replete with suicide bombers and devout overtones. It's flat-out brilliant and a clear example of the potential this show has to break out into something special.

If Martin appears a bit awkward at the outset, the hope is that Stewart will help mold his latest spawn into a youth-skewing whiz kid, if not exactly the second coming of Stephen Colbert.

Airdate: 10:30-11 p.m. Wednesday. Feb. 11 (Comedy Central)
Cast: Demetri Martin, Jon Benjamin, Natalie Gold, Meghan Rafferty, Damian Schilles, Becky Ann Baker, Tom Kane, Jon Kohler, Chazz Menedez, Dan Ziskie
Production: Busboy Prods and Comedy Central
Executive producers: Jon Stewart, Demetri Martin, Bath McCarthy-Miller
Line producer: Bernadette Lee
Coordinating producer: Victoria English
Senior producer: Michael Koman
Senior producer: Jon Benjamin
Head writer: Michael Koman
Directors: Beth McCarthy-Miller, Jesse Peretz, Scott Vincent
Director of photography: Steve Murello
Production designer: Kate Duffy
Costume designer: Kaela Wohl
Editors: Paul Frank, Bryan Shelton, Cori Wapnowski, Irvin Coffee
Casting: Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee