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TV Tonight: The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

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Here’s why I don’t post here every time a former Arrested Development star says, “We’re really close to making the movie!”: I’ve heard it too many times to believe it until I see it. Fox’s Running Wilde, likewise, is not the second coming of Arrested Development. Nor was Mitch Hurwitz’s Sit Down, Shut Up. And IFC’s The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, though it stars David Cross and has a small role for Will Arnett, is certainly not it either. It’s not even appointment TV. But if you can into it with appropriately lowered expectations, the comedy has its small pleasures.

Having said that this is not another AD, it does have David Cross playing a recognizable form of a David Cross character in the title role. Margaret is an entirely unqualified temp in a just-bought-out company who’s handpicked by his obnoxious boss (Arnett) to go to London and move the company into the British energy-drinks market, which turns out not to be as large as the company thinks it is. (Between this and How to Make It in America, energy drinks are starting a trendlet as comedy source.)

Margaret, it turns out, is a Crossian nebbishy loser, listening futilely to audiobooks on how to become more assertive and believing that through sheer force of will and bluffery (and a fake story of a childhood in Leeds) he can make himself into a success at work, and, thereby, with the ladies. What ensues, as the title suggests, is a series of growing humiliations as Margaret—undermined by a British assistant who sees him as an endless course of wind-up opportunities—doubles down on his job selling an apparently toxic beverage and steers toward disaster.

I didn’t love the half of the six-episode series that I was sent; the show’s attitude toward Margaret is more sour and contemptuous toward Margaret than AD’s toward Tobias, which can make it seem less like a snowballing comedy and more like an awkward train wreck. That said, Cross mines some moments of strong physical comedy out of the role, and manages to find what sympathy he can out of Todd’s blinkered urge to succeed. Like the drink he’s selling, maybe Poor Decisions is simply a concoction that’s better enjoyed in moderation.

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