With the proliferation of cable television, traditional sitcoms have become fewer and farther between. It seems like everyone is racing to the airwaves with the rudest, most obnoxious stories possible! While some might be distressed by this phenomenon, the liberation has created some of the boldest and funniest shows imaginable. From the FX stable (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Archer, The League, Louie), to Comedy Central (South Park, Workaholics), to premium channels like HBO and Showtime--the choices are really endless. And it's a constant game of one-upsmanship as shows consistently push the boundaries of good taste and oftentimes walk right over them. "Call Me Fitz" is a Canadian series (airing in the States on DirectTV) that aspires to join this notorious brood of ill-mannered television comedy.
"Call Me Fitz" is set in the always amusing world of used car sales. Jason Priestly plays an unscrupulous salesman working at his father's dealership. Priestly has just about every vice imaginable from booze, to ladies, to drugs, to larceny. Priestly is clearly having a field day exhibiting this plethora of bad behavior (a far cry from Brandon Walsh days), and the show asks us to revel in these unpleasant acts. The first couple of episodes set up a continuing story thread as Priestly is responsible for an accident that puts a potential buyer in a coma. As he does everything to evade culpability, the injured woman's daughter and a creepy little girl (just watch, I can't explain) try to uncover the truth. Simultaneously, a new partner joins the dealership who claims to be Priestly's conscience (or maybe his brother or maybe just a guy who likes bunny suits). Both of these developments have long range repercussions throughout this season's episodes.
After watching these initial two episodes, I honestly wasn't sure that I liked "Call Me Fitz." The jury was still out. Although Priestly was gung-ho, I felt like the writers pushed a little too hard for shock value as opposed to organic humor. But by the third episode, it suddenly all made sense. The characters started to be drawn in more detail and with the introduction of the great Joanna Cassidy (for a pivotal two episode arc as Priestly's unorthodox and absentee mother), "Fitz" established itself as a dysfunctional family sitcom. There is still plenty of workplace humor, especially with a rival dealership, but the heart of the show comes from the awkward interactions between father and son, brother and sister, and other familial combinations. Priestly's conscience Larry does, in fact, become a de facto family member and his innocent ways contradict everyone else's more outrageous behavior. His mission to redeem Priestly will not be an easy one. Ultimately, I really found much of this show to be laugh-out-loud funny. There is nudity and foul language, to be sure, and this is not for sensitive viewers.
The three disc DVD set includes all 13 episodes of Season One. Bonus features include behind-the-scene footage, cast interviews, and a gag reel. Again, if you like darker and more aggressive humor--"Call Me Fitz" is an easy recommendation. It took me a couple of show to warm up, but I've become a fan. KGHarris, 9/11.