I was a big fan of "Knights" before its cancellation, and "Andy Barker" shares its screwball tone, layered with lots of pop-culture references and jokes that arise when normal folks are thrust into glamorous, intriguing circumstances. Interestingly, both shows also came from late-night writers: David Letterman's Worldwide Pants crew handled "Knights," while Conan O'Brien co-created "Andy Barker."
At first, those similarities made me fear that "Andy Barker" would end up following the low-audience, quick-cancellation path of "Knights." But upon further reflection, I think "Andy Barker" has a much better chance at survival. To find out why,
For several reasons, I think "Andy Barker" really should do better than "Knights." Consider:
- "Knights" was a true serial where every episode built on the last, but each "Andy Barker" plot stands alone. A new viewer could pop in at any time and catch up — which is good, because each of the "Andy Barker" episodes I saw was better than the last.
- "Andy Barker" has a better-known cast. While Donal Logue has his fans, Andy Richter built up a cult following from his time on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "Andy Richter Controls the Universe." The cast also includes Tony Hale, better known as Buster Bluth of the "Arrested Development" clan, another actor people are eager to see again.
- "Andy Barker" is on NBC, which has made a point of developing and nurturing quirky little comedies. While "Knights" was unlike anything else on ABC and felt weird next to "According to Jim" and "George Lopez," "Andy Barker" makes perfect sense in NBC's Thursday lineup.
Also, NBC has proven willing to stick with comedies that don't get great ratings but deliver quality shows ("The Office" in its first season, for example). And NBC doesn't seem trigger-happy when a show doesn't hit right away: The early episodes of "30 Rock" were a mess, but it's developed into one of the funniest shows on TV.
So my hopes are high for "Andy Barker." Stay tuned for my full preview later today, and don't forget you can watch all the episodes online if you don't feel like waiting for Thursdays.