TBS’s comedy hot streak continues with this new comedy executiveproduced by Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels (The Office, Parks and Recreation). Starring The Daily Show alum Wyatt Cenac, this idiosyncratic series centers on incredulous reporter Ozzie Graham (Cenac) as he probes a support group for alien abductees—sorry, I mean “alien experiencers.” As we find out in the series premiere, the group prefers “experiencers” because they aren’t victims. Spending time with the group, Ozzie starts to realize that he may have more in common with the group than he thought and discovers, much to his surprise, that there’s some truth to their stories.
As Ozzie’s empathy for the group’s misfits grows, so does the show’s, and the supporting characters, including Ana Gasteyer, who plays the group’s empathetic leader, develop into more than mere punchlines. The show achieves poignancy when it digs into how these extraterrestrial experiences forced some of the group’s “broken” members to deal with their loneliness and helped them find people they could call in the middle of the night if they needed to talk or needed a comforting burrito. Using alien abduction in this manner helps the show fit right in among TBS’s growing slate of eccentric comedies, which includes the underrated, sardonic family comedy The Detour and the wacky Angie Tribeca.
While Cenac’s patented deadpan affect produces plenty of laughs when he’s paired with any of his fellow experiencers, People’s funniest scenes are the ones featuring the very peculiar Earth-invading aliens. There’s Kurt (Drew Nelson), a reptilian (think Doctor Who’s Madame Vastra); the emotional Don (Björn Gustafsson), a White who looks like Orlando Bloom in the Lord of the Rings films; and Jeff (Ken Hall), who is the most conventional-looking alien of the bunch. Their bickering provides a nice counterpoint to the earnestness of the support group’s storyline, and I’m definitely interested in finding out what they have planned for the humans of Earth. B+