Portlandia: S08E03 “Abracadabra” Review

It’s always weird reviewing a sketch show. Basically, you’re reviews 3-5 minute segments of a whole episode. Like, if I reviewed on a rating scales (thank god I don’t), I would probably have to rate each sketch individually, instead of talking about the episode as a whole, and averaging a score, which feels far to technical. What if there was 2 sketches, and one sketch what the best of all time, and the next one is garbage, do you rate the episode a 5/10? Maybe 6/10, to give credit to the good sketch? Sorry, I just get distracted with overthinking.

Which is why I need to get the product being sold in the first sketch. You know how horses have blinders? What if you had blinders to blind you from distractions so that you may achieve your goal! “Distraction Canceling Glasses” is a wonderful sketch, that goes into great absurdity and comedy. It’s a singular use item, that is used to escalate its comedic potential for maximum effect, while making satire of people being willfully ignorant to problems around them. Ignorance is bliss, amirite?

The next sketch is Rashida Jones talking to a couple of wedding planners, and of course the wedding planners are awful! There’s a lot of humor that can be derived with the simple conviction to a character, and that’s how this sketch gets by. There’s nothing really clever in this sketch, but the simple discussion of crippling Rashida’s father for emotional effect is… effective (Fun fact, Rashida Jones father is Quincey Jones, who made the song “Soul Bossa Nova” which eventually became the most recognizable theme for the Austin Powers soundtrack).

Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein
If X-Files was a Mormon show. (Picture Source: IFC, tvguide.com)

What’s the best meal of the day? The answer is obviously breakfast, stop even pretending to lie about it! What if you treated every breakfast like it was Christmas? Well you no longer need to imagine it, because Peter and Lance have acted out that fantasy for you! Another pretty great sketch, which is also very well made. The sketch is treated with such a hallmark card like gloss, it makes it almost feel like a holiday movie. That holiday, being breakfast. Line of the sketch, “I bet in heaven, we have breakfast 3 times a day!”

portlandia-week-5
Never seen such genuine joy! (Picture Source: IFC, indiewire.com)

Next, Malcolm and Kris are in a library meeting, discussing how they need to remove it to save the environment… a joke which I feel sets the proper tone. I love the weird pettiness these characters have over something nonsensical. It starts from Malcolm’s realization over not being invited to the last meeting, to trying to take credit for their lawn replacement ideas. It’s a sketch that rewards you for your attention, with how it weaves its thread of funny.

Finally, the throughline of the episode, “Abracadabra”! Also known as the Nina and Lance origin story! It’s Nina and Lance telling this bizarre story, that takes place in 1997, which involves Lance going to a burlesque club, seeing a burlesque show, seeing Nina for the very first time, seeing a girl he can finally “pull out on” (this show is interesting in its descriptions of love). Unfortunately, Nina is already going out with, and is the sidekick to Derek the Magician (Played by Jeff Goldblum, would could have been called Jeff Goldblum the Magician, and I would have believed it). This does not deter Lance, and he ends up going to every single one of her shows. Anyway, circumstances arise and Derek decides to put an alligator in his act, and it literally bites his face off. So Derek ends up in a coma, and will remain in this coma until he can get a face transplant. Lance offers, because at least she ends up in love with his face… and I’m already over explaining it. I love the escalating horror on the faces of the people they are telling the story to, and the utter crassness that is the Lance character, with the gleeful Naivete of Nina. I kind of love this throughline, it’s definitely the best throughline of the season so far.

This is probably one of the better episodes of the season so far. There’s nothing that reached the heights of the “podcast”, or the “sexism in the work place” sketches, but all the sketches were great, and maintained a certain quality. It’s one of the most constantly entertaining of this season. If I were to give this episode a rating, it would be a very funny out of ten. Would watch again. Especially for the Bound 2 parody at the end.

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Author: Devin Melnyk

I'm still trying to figure out how the internet works.

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