I’ve written—at length—about how this show is a uniquely impressive outlier in TV comedy history. Sure, it seems, on the surface, like coming out of the starting gate for its eleventh season with a sequel to a beloved episode is a softball. But you can’t argue with results.
Apart from being a sequel to a popular episode, the premiere doesn’t go out of its way to stake out any new territory (horrific new minigames aside), and that’s a good thing. The only other new wrinkle is a sixth player, in the form of Andy Buckley’s Andy, a potential investor from the Mattel corporation whose respectable demeanor in looking for new, more adult board game fare “that’s out of the box” doesn’t prevent him from getting fully and good-naturedly into the booze-fueled, flailing swing of things. Buckley is a canny choice for the episode’s interloper, the actor’s innately decent yet sneakily untrustworthy button-down persona admitting all manner of possibilities for his presence. Now, when an outsider is pulled into the Gang’s orbit, there are only a few conceivable outcomes. For the even-keeled Andy, the episode deftly sets up that he could be just what he says he is (which would probably entail his humiliation, if not serious injury or death), or that he could be another in the long line of scammers and manipulators that have preyed on the Gang’s overreaching, ill-advised ambition (which would mean it’s the Gang that gets abused and humiliated). In the end, though, the fact that the genial Andy is an actor hired by Frank to get Frank’s ideas into Chardee MacDennis makes perfect sense for an episode about Chardee MacDennis.
I missed you, Sunny.