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The Spoils of Babylon (2014) Miniseries Review

The Spoils of Babylon is an epic miniseries crafted by genius multi-hyphenate Eric Jonrosh. It tells the profound story of Devon Morehouse (Tobey Maguire) as he stumbles through the trials of war, corrupt big business, drug use, and love.

Well…not really. Eric Jonrosh is really Will Ferrell. He is an Orson-Wellian character: introducing each installment of the series, his overweight figure squeezed into a small restaurant booth and his hands filled with glasses of red wine. The unruly, pedantic Jonrosh claims that the miniseries took three years to make and that the original cut was 22 hours long. In reality, the miniseries is a six episode arc toting a star-studded cast that includes Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robins, Val Kilmer, Jessica Alba, Michael Sheen, and Haley Joel Osment.

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The show skewers a variety of entertainment genres–namely noir–elevating them up to levels of melodrama that would make any soap opera jealous. The characters get lost in verbose monologues that seemingly hold some larger meaning but ultimately lead nowhere.Their plot arcs are incongruous and unnecessary. Sets and backdrops are clearly dioramas and models. Characters smoke cigars that aren’t lit. Props are noticeably held in the air by string. Every painfully obvious misstep of Jonrosh’s vision is carefully calculated and wonderfully executed.

There are moments of pure hilarity in this show. From painfully awkward and prolonged kisses, to the imperceptibly long inscription on a gifted compass, to the ingenious use of a mannequin, there are numerous times when the form is used to successfully create profoundly original comedy. Wiig and Maguire absolutely dominate as the show’s leads, but Robbins and Osment pull their weight as well.

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The miniseries, from former Saturday Night Live writer and Casa de mi Padre director Matt Piedmont, really does play like a fleshed out SNL sketch. Although the cheesy, over the top details of the show’s parodies do grow somewhat old as the series progresses, Spoils doesn’t fall flat or become one note like SNL-inspired movies often do. Spoils could just as well have been a gut-busting, recurring segment on SNL, but instead it triumphs as its own brand of long-form sketch.

 

The Post-Script

This show is truly hilarious. There were moments when I almost cried from laughter. Wiig is an absolute powerhouse of comedy. Seemingly, she can do no wrong. Ferrell, even though he has become hit or miss these days, brings his usual absurdity to the role of Jonrosh, to the show’s benefit. The show is a worthwhile watch, and from what I’ve read it will be back with a second season in the summer of 2015. I’ll be looking forward to it.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Have you watched The Spoils of Babylon? If so, did you like it? Are you excited for a second season? Let me know in the comments!

 

–Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

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One thought on “The Spoils of Babylon (2014) Miniseries Review”

  1. I enjoy it. Finally someone has written…yes written SOMETHING other than the same stick-a-camera-in-front-of-someone-reality tv and call it a show. That type of television isnt a show…it is a cheap way to put something on tv as you have to write very little and with NO imagination. I like the over the top parts of Spoils. Even if it is a sort of mocking of over the top drama..it retains originallity. To me Will Ferrell is creating a character…it IS modeled after Orson Wells..it is supposed to be. A person has to have a certain “funny bone” in them to get The Spoils Of Babylon…and Im glad I do.

    Like

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