October 23, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

New TV Show Review: “Free Agents” on NBC

HollywoodNews.com:I love Hank Azaria. He does my favorite voices on The Simpsons and I love how he transforms into characters. I even loved him on Herman’s Head. He makes so much doing The Simpsons, he really doesn’t have to do anything else, so if he agreed to do another TV show, it must be brilliant material, right?

It is with deepest regrets that I inform you that Free Agents is not the vehicle Hank Azaria deserves. In the opening scene, Alex (Azaria) and Helen (Kathryn Hahn) are post coital. A little awkwardness is to be expected, but they just talk too much and it’s not clever. Alex’s analysis of Helen’s condom stash and her defense of it turns out to be the most clever part of the show.

They both work at a PR agency and the whole staff is desperate for laughs. Every male in the office makes immature sex jokes, and by immature I mean not the cool kind of immature like Beavis and Butthead. Rather, it’s the “look how edgy we are saying this in prime time but not quite using bad words” kind. The boss (Anthony Stewart Head) kind of gets away with it because he’s British.Alex’s assistant Emma (Natasha Leggero) is so sassy it’s even too much for him. Her character trait seems to be that if she just talks fast enough it’ll be funny.

I suppose now should be the time to explain this isn’t just a show about the awkwardness of sleeping with a coworker. Helen is grieving a dead fiancé and Alex is going through a divorce. Alex actually wants to have a relationship but Helen is the one resisting. She actually takes him to buy a new wardrobe and she wants to have a safeword in case they get romantically confused.

Free Agents is so busy with people chiming in, though adding nothing, it’s obnoxious. This is actually a show that needed the reactions of a studio audience and the rhythm of that format. It is not right for the 30 Rock style. Azaria and Hahn actually do have chemistry. They could be the next Moonlighting in a better scenario.

The pilot only shows two scenes of actual PR work, so I can’t wait for the weekly development of their spin doctoring. By which I mean that part of the show hasn’t totally sucked yet, so maybe there’s a chance one scene per week could be good.

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About Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

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