Sunday, February 12, 2012

Todd Margaret "Conclusion" bombs, literally

IFC's The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret brought its run permanently to an end this Friday after twelve episodes. The finale, entitled "Conclusion," finds Todd (David Cross) on trial for the various crimes he has committed over the show's two seasons. Brent Wilts (Will Arnett) acts as his (inept) lawyer, until things turn south, and he flees, leaving Todd alone. Alice (Sharon Horgan) finds the evidence needed to clear both her and Todd, but Todd accidentally blows her up with a truck bomb. Luckily for Todd, Dave's father (Mark Heap, Friday Night Dinner, Lark Rise to Candleford) shows up and calls off the entire scheme. Todd is allowed to leave England, but stupidly chooses North Korea, where he sets off an atomic bomb.

The end is a huge disappointment for a pretty funny series. Having written themselves into a corner, the show chooses to just blow things up, rather than try to solve or explain anything. In fact, just before the bomb goes off, the character of Doug Whitney (Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich) muses that things don't make sense, and the story isn't tied up at all. It's a tongue in cheek joke, as if the writers, in an attempt to distract, are saying, "Yes, we know, we screwed up. Look! Explosion!"

There are not many series that would have the guts to do such a thing. And for that, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret's "Conclusion" deserves some credit. Never has a television show thumbed its nose at convention and its audience in such a blatant, uncaring manner. Which totally fits the tone of the titular character, and most of the series. In that respect, it's a fitting way to finish things off. But that doesn't stop it from being ridiculous, and "Conclusion" will likely anger many fans, this reviewer included.

Yet, even before the final moments of the series, "Conclusion" isn't doing so well as an episode. Arguably the worst half hour of the show, much of the action takes place in a courtroom. The problem is, the events are completely unrealistic. While The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret isn't a show whose characters are much in touch with reality, there's always the feeling that the authorities will eventually catch up to those who deserve it, and things will be righted. Instead, under the watchful, controlling eye of Dave (Blake Harrison), who has orchestrated this entire thing to get even for Todd and Brent being rude to him in a bar, the judge sits back and lets the two make a mockery of the justice system. It's completely unacceptable, uncomfortable, and just plain doesn't make sense.

Worse still, the delightful Alice is killed off for no reason other than to follow up on a loose thread. And she looks perfectly fine and attractive in the morgue, rather than being a decimated, burnt, ripped apart mess, as she would be, considering the situation. Granted, at least the truck bomb is given some closure, unlike many other subplots, but how did it get from being parked at a restaurant closed down as a health hazard to being in front of the courthouse? Surely, the bomb would have been discovered and deactivated, and the truck impounded, when the department of health discover it next to The Molecule?

Not to mention, how and why is Todd recruited by North Korea, put in charge, and made to set off an atomic weapon, all in two days?

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret does provide some great entertainment, such as the twist reveal that the character Jon Hamm (Mad Men) is playing in the show is himself. But because of such a faulty, lazy ending, it will not be remembered as a terrific series, if it is remembered at all. And that's a shame, because the first eleven episodes are really great. But screwing up the ending ruins the entire deal. Some may discover the show on DVD, but it will not be through recommendation or word of mouth from anyone who finishes watching it.

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  1. Yes, it was all conventional and realistic up until this


  2. LOL, I never said they were. There is just no pay off or justice in the end, which is all I'm really looking for.


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