This month's Nothing to Watch on Netflix isn't on Netflix. But Big Time in Hollywood, FL is such a great show that I think it is deserving of a write-up. Especially because the season finale is happening this Wednesday, now is the most appropriate time to highlight this amazing action-comedy.
Backed by Ben Stiller, Big Time centers on two brothers, Ben and Jack Dolfe and their dreams of becoming big-shot Hollywood filmmakers, things go wrong in the best way.
The thing that really sets Big Time apart from a lot of other comedies is the fact that it is serialized. There are no throw-away jokes or one-off plot lines. Things don't return to the status quo at the end of the half hour. Every action creates ripples in the plot that inevitably resurface.
The first episode of the series starts with Jack and Ben's parents forcing them to move out of their childhood home. Being in their late twenties, this is not unreasonable. Wanting to secure funds to cobble together another homemade short film, the boys decide to fake their own kidnapping at the hands of a phony drug dealer (Ben Stiller) in order to get a $20,000 ransom. Not too different from a regular sit-com scheme. However, because this is Big Time, there are lasting consequences that resonate through the entire season, including a police investigation, a trip to rehab, and the acting debut of a chimp named Rico.
Big Time in Hollywood, FL's comedic style comes from two places: the utter stupidity of the Dolfe boys, and the absurdly serious situations that they land themselves in. There are dark streaks in this show that get played for big laughs, such as when Jack, Ben, and their friend/camera-man/punching bag Del try to make a suicide look like even more like a suicide. The fact that every situation is played with a straight face only makes things funnier.
Even outside of the farcical nature of the show, the plot is complex and engaging. Similar to shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men, Big Time keeps the viewer guessing. There's no telling what will happen next or who is going to show up by happenstance, which makes this that much more enjoyable to watch. The production values are also off the charts, so the season finale should be something special as all of the plot points come to a head.
Coupled with the tight writing are big names filling the roles. Producer Ben Stiller makes a cameo in the first episode to set everything in motion. Through sheer circumstance, Ben and Jack end up working with Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (who plays a strung-out, coked-up version of himself similar to NPH in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle). Jason Alexander plays a fictionalized version of himself as well, introduced to the boys by Cuba.
Basically, Big Time in Hollywood, FL is well-shot, well-cast, well-written, and hilarious. There's no reason not to give this spectacular first season a chance, as all of the episodes leading up to the finale are available for streaming on Comedy Central's website. Catch up before the season one finale this Wednesday at 10pm!
(Also, Big Time has one of the best theme songs ever. Here's the full version:)