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Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Todd's Terrible Day Ends and His Next Terrible Day Begins" in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

     IFC's The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret returns this week for a second season. The first episode back, "Todd's Terrible Day Ends and His Next Terrible Day Begins," picks up right where season one leaves off. Alice (Sharon Horgan) angrily storms off from Todd (David Cross) and his 'rape kit.' Todd tries to fix things with Alice by confessing to some lies. But he also re-encounters the terrorists, who trick him, and he has to go on the run from the police, since they find a dead body in the Houses of Parliment where he is discovered hiding. Dave (Blake Harrison), now revealed to viewers as the secret rich mastermind behind the energy drink scheme, is only to happy to provide a destination - Leeds.

     The series is funny, and takes a bizarre new turn in season two with the Dave twist. Dave is now shown in a posh manor, attended by a very serious looking man servant (Mad Men's Jon Hamm). But what is Dave's goal? Obviously, Todd is just a lackey, as is his "boss" Brent (Will Arnett), but why is Dave using and manipulating them? And why does Dave want to go to Leeds so badly? It can't just be to expose Todd in one of his many untruths, as Dave sees right through those, and there's nothing to be gained by making Todd look worse than he already does. But Dave is also clearly enjoying the ride he is playing Todd into taking him on, so it adds a bit of fun to the show.

     Alice, meanwhile, is losing patience with Todd. Throughout season one, she frequently gets frustrated at him, and it's a little confusing that she is willing to keep Todd around. Yet, she must find something about him charming. Alice says she doesn't want to see Todd again, but of course, Todd shows up at her cafe to give her the drapes and make a fool of himself, again. At least this time he apologizes for some things, and even admits some of his claims he makes are false. As Todd justifies his fibs, one can't help but feeling a little sorry for him, which might be why Alice appears to soften slightly. However, given everything that Todd has already put her through, and the very few things he brings to the table, it is definitely time for Alice to permanently sever ties with the menace.

     Hamm is a wonderful addition to the cast. Having done 30 Rock and Childrens' Hospital previously, he is no strange to sitcom comedy. However, rather than going goofy, as he does in other shows, he keeps this new part pretty straight. Which is kind of cool, because it provides a different side altogether from his previous work. There is no telling what the writers have in store for his character, but given Hamm's talent, and the few gags in participates in this premiere episode, things look promising.

     Another face that is very welcome is that of Russ Tamblyn as Chuck Margaret, Todd's dad. Coming to England when he sees Todd in trouble on TV, he is game at tossing a sheet over his head and pretending to be a ghost, or babysitting Pam's (Sara Pascoe) brood while he crashes as her filthy excuse for an apartment. His easy going nature and willingness to do the ridiculous inform a lot about where Todd comes from. However, Chuck is also kindler and more compassionate, showing that Todd isn't solely a product of his upbringing. It's a neat insight, without being too obvious, and Tamblyn is hilarious in the role.

     Oddly, though the series has not yet gotten to the framing story of season one, with Todd in court, there is a new opening featuring Todd as a scared prisoner. When will The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret reach its earlier shown scenes, and how does Todd get out of trouble, only to quickly get back into it? There's plenty to anticipate moving forward.

     Watch The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret Fridays at 10:30 p.m. ET on IFC.

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     Click here to buy Todd Margaret DVDs and streaming episodes.

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