bestof2014-6

Every day between now and Christmas morning, we’ll share the twenty-five stories that engaged, enchanted, amused and amazed us the most in 2014. If you missed them, now’s your chance to catch up; if you’re looking for a gift for the wonk in your life, then these are our most enthusiastic recommendations!

Today, Review.

Review isn’t for everyone. It’s superficially simple and light-hearted, but there is a chasm of anxiety, discomfort and grim humor found just under the surface. What seems to be episodic, disposable television turns into an epic undertaking, a story of loss and isolation and unconquerable dedication.

The basic concept for the show — that life-experience critic Forrest MacNeil undertakes tasks set for him by his audience and rates them on a scale of one to five — is smart enough. If it were nothing more than a means of pulling together disconnected adventures through the course of the episode, it would work nicely; as the show moves onward, however, the walls between the stories begin to disintegrate, and the framing device itself is pulled ever closer to the maelstrom of madness and tragedy that is Forrest MacNeil’s life. This is best exemplified by the shattering and triumphant third episode, “Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes”, which would give the classical tragedians of Athens a run for their money, up to and including the twisted triumph of the ending.

The brilliance of Review — and the reason that it isn’t completely impossible to watch — can be found in Andy Daly’s performance as Forrest. Daly has a rare ability to give any character, no matter how outlandish, a real core of human vulnerability; in Forrest, he leverages all the sincerity, principle and dedication he can muster, and he turns a small, increasingly-bewildered broadcaster into… a hero? A monster? A victim? A fool?

So, Review isn’t for everyone — but if it’s for you, then you’ll be caught up in a show that exceeds every possible expectation in every possible direction.

Get it now: Review.