The Detour is a new mature comedy series on TBS. Created by Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, this program follows a family of four on their road trip from New York to Florida for a much-needed vacation. The pilot episode centers around Nate (Jason Jones) deciding to drive his family to Florida as opposed to taking a plane there. When they end up in rural Pennsylvania, one bad thing leads to another as they stumble upon what they believe to be an ice cream stand, when in actuality it’s a strip club.
You should get an instant vibe of what kind of show The Detour is going to be when they make the same joke, “Pennsylvania = ‘Penis-ylvania,'” three times throughout the pilot. What you get out of the opening is nothing more than lowest common denominator humor you’ve already seen a dozen times before. Lacking is any sense of support or definition for the family characters, instead being replaced by a mother’s dialogue that revolves about 70 percent of the time around the phrase, “Well you lied to me, you said we’d be on a plane,” and out of nowhere stale humor that neither goes anywhere nor adds anything to the plot. While Nate and Robin (Natalie Zea) do have their moments together, the children especially need an upgrade in their personalities. The son, Jared (Liam Carroll), is about as plain and simple of a son archetype as it gets, whose only real moment to shine comes from the episode’s first few minutes. This feels like wasted potential too, because the show’s opener does present itself with a bit more class behind the crass, as opposed to the rest of the episode. The daughter, Delilah (Ashley Gerasimovich), on the other hand, only gets her characterization around her first period popping up in a strip club, which is a detail that goes nowhere either. It’s brought up for one scene and that’s it. It’s serves little more than padding to an already unfocused charade on unoriginal jokes and one-dimensional characters. That’s not to say there isn’t something here for someone to like, but said person would probably have never watched any other sitcom or ’80s comedy flick for them to think this pilot is hilarious.
On a brighter note, at least the second episode, “The Hotel,” shows more promise for the future. This episode focuses entirely on the family’s exploits in a mediocre hotel as they try resting for the night. There are a few actually original jokes here that are quite funnier than what the pilot had to offer. Nate trying out different rooms and finding something horribly wrong with each was fairly humorous, and the pool scene also brought a chuckle or two from the silliness of the children. A couple of hotel assistants also provided some good background comedy here and there, ultimately making it a slight improvement.
However, the characters still came across as uninteresting archetypes defined solely by what they were doing and their personalities. We learn that the parents like taking drugs in their hotel getaways, and the majority of the episode fixates on the mother tripping out while Nate sits nude in the pool waiting for her to bring him a towel. Like most shows, Nate’s nudity is pixellated but I can’t tell if it was intentional or just lazy, but in the following scenes where he makes a dash in the hotel to find a towel to cover himself, you can clearly tell actor is wearing an orange speedo. It’s such a glaring piece that I thought it was just supposed to be that way, but when people complain that he is in fact “nude,” I can only come to the conclusion that the editors were just too lazy to try to cover the speedo entirely.
They say the first two episodes of any given show are usually the messiest since it takes some time for programs to find their groove. If this is in fact going to be the same case with The Detour, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. However, if this is the best TBS has to offer us after the hilariously over the top Angie Tribeca, then The Detour should probably just stay lost and never try to find its way back home.
Episode 1 Rating: 3/10
Episode 2 Rating: 4/10