February 3, 2023

The Pitch: Within the spring of 2020, a Twitter dialog started about who is perhaps the perfect individual to steer a reboot of iconic detective collection Columbo, and whereas Mark Ruffalo was talked about as an apparent contender, a galaxy brain-level thought emerged: What about Russian Doll’s Natasha Lyonne? Lyonne herself appeared very on board, and whereas that particular resurrection of IP by no means occurred, simply three years later we’ve Poker Face, created by Glass Onion helmer Rian Johnson — an unique thriller drama filled with nostalgia for what got here earlier than, with its personal particular trendy aptitude.

Starring Lyonne as Charlie, a “human lie detector” who makes use of her capacity to smell out bullshit to function TV’s least probably detective, Poker Face is filled with homages to the nice ’70s and ’80s detective reveals of yore. The brand new Peacock drama options extra visitor stars than we will simply checklist right here, whereas cementing Lyonne’s standing as one in all our most watchable actors, a very one-of-a-kind display expertise for whom this present has been tailor-made to perfection.

There’s One thing That Bothers Me… The pilot episode introduces each Charlie in addition to the present’s ongoing format, maybe the most important homage to the aforementioned Columbo: Every installment begins with a homicide being dedicated, that means that the viewer isn’t questioning whodunnit, however “howcatchem” — particularly, how Charlie will sniff out the reality, particularly after the episode skips backward in time to disclose simply how Charlie suits into the occasions we’ve already seen. (Whereas Johnson isn’t the official showrunner on the collection — Nora and Lilla Zuckerman of Fringe and Prodigal Son are — he writes and directs a number of episodes, bringing with him an strategy we’re very aware of after watching Glass Onion.)

Whereas there’s a little bit of an overarching plot-line connecting these episodes, tied to the occasions of the pilot, the purpose here’s a return to traditional mystery-of-the-week TV, with huge visitor stars launched in each episode to anchor these tales.

The primary six episodes offered for evaluate embody Chloë Sevigny because the frontwoman for a heavy metallic band (which additionally consists of John Darnielle as a band member), Oscar nominee Hong Chau as an extended haul trucker, Judith Gentle and S. Epatha Merkerson as rebellious residents of a retirement neighborhood, and Tim Meadows and Ellen Barkin as pale TV stars lowered to dinner theater.

Whereas all of the visitor stars are top-notch, the one occasional problem with this strategy is that of pacing — with homicide being a foregone conclusion, the viewers is of course desirous to see how Charlie suits into every new situation being launched, and the payoff typically feels a bit lengthy to attend for. Nevertheless it speaks to how naturally compelling Lyonne is within the function — arrange as anti-establishment however pro-justice, Charlie’s an instantly sympathetic protagonist, and the low-key swagger she brings to every scenario is addictive.

Poker Face (Peacock)

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