Detroiters is back! If you read any of my season 1 reviews, you probably know how much affection I have for this show, with its breezy vibe, depiction of close male friendship, and well-detailed world and characters adding up to a really fun, easily watchable comedy. Season 2 premiered tonight with a double dip into the adventures of Cramblin-Duvet advertising, so let’s jump right in and see what our boys are up to.
Episode 1, “April in the D”
We open on Sam and Tim pitching their commercial idea for Mr. Alvin, who owns a sneaker dealership and sounds halfway like he had a laryngectomy (and perhaps isn’t aware of it). They seal the deal, and decide to celebrate their hot streak (closing eight clients in a row!). Then Sheila reminds them that they’ve already made plans for her 50th anniversary dinner. “Guys, you’re dressed like shit!”
At the dinner, Sheila tells them about how she came up with the tagline for a control top pantyhose in her early days, but as she was just a secretary, no one gave her credit or took her seriously. (Sheila and Sam commiserate over how difficult a time they had / would have had in those years. Tim, the white man whose father founded the firm, adds “Well, we all would have had a time.” It’s different, as they both try to explain.)
At the end of the dinner, Sheila tells them “Gentlemen, thank you. You’ve made an old, old lady very drunk.” They offer to walk her to her car before realizing they need to get hammered to prepare for their pitch to the Michigan Science Center tomorrow, so they ask if she’s taking an Uber and she says yes. Cue Sheila leaving, the boys getting even drunker, and taking their own Uber home, driving right by Sheila as she is being field sobriety tested.
The next day, they encounter Ryan Lepchek (unsure on spelling, but the cast info for this episode isn’t availble) of Doner Advertising (last seen at the D Awards, and, yes, a real Detroit-area ad agency). Again, wasn’t sure who played him, so I just wrote “Handsome Asshole” in my notes. (It appears to be Mike O’Gorman, recently of A.P. Bio and Vice Principals.) They close the deal again, returning to the office triumphant– only to find Lea and Tommy consoling Sheila for her DUI. (She didn’t know what Uber was, but she said yes because she didn’t want to seem old.)
They resolve to get her a lawyer, which leads to a search that comes down to two lawyers in town: Joumana Kayrouz, who seems like more of a dominatrix-cum-lawyer than an actual lawyer, but who impresses them both… and then they see a commercial for Walt Worsch, and if the fact that he’s played by Tim Meadows didn’t tip you that he would be the choice, his awful commercial (complete with testimony from clients whose cases he didn’t even win) makes them see an opportunity to continue their hot streak. (Apparently it didn’t occur to them to call Roz Chunks, Mom Lawyer.)
The two also see Walt’s “April in the D” music video (apparently this is a real thing musicians in Detroit do), where he sings the praises of the one month a year where the Red Wings, Pistons, and Tigers are all playing, in a hilarious, perfectly terrible sort-of-nu-metal-inspired song. Sam and Tim see Walt’s confidence in this video and decide to convince him to let them imbue that into the commercials for his law practice. (Sheila isn’t happy with this, wanting a capable lawyer for her DUI charge more than a business opportunity for Cramblin-Duvet.)
The boys release a new commercial for Walt’s practice, then are called to a meeting with Doner, where Ryan makes them a formal offer to buy Cramblin-Duvet. (In between, some hilarious exchanges over Sam eating the receptionist’s medicine, and the two misinterpreting how the Cramblin-Duvet name will no longer be in use after the buyout.
Walt tries to play up his rock-star image in the commercial for Sheila’s DUI trial, but utterly fails to accomplish anything, as she’s sentenced to 16 hours of community service. Afterward, the guys ask for his advice about the sale– in continued evidence of his inability as a practitioner, he says that if it’s a good deal for Doner, then it’s probably a bad deal for them, and since Doner is smarter than they are, that’s likely to be the case. Then they go to lunch, continuing to ignore Sheila.
The guys (and Lea) fail to find any legitimate testimonials for the science museum, and they end up casting a bunch of dorky kids who spend most of the commercial insisting they’re not dorks. (“Uh, dork means whale penis, so I’m definitely not a dork.” “And even if you are a dork, the Michigan Science Center is a bully-free zone.”) The draft commercial is a disaster, and when they insist they can do better, Sheila comes in and says “No, they can’t. These two guys are pieces of shit.” They lose the business and their winning streak.
We actually get a pretty sweet scene when they realize how much they’ve wronged Sheila and head to her home to apologize. She lays it out for them: “I’ve worked for this company for fifty years, and you never once asked me about how I felt about selling the company.” They offer to make it right; she wants a partnership.
The three of them head into Doner to reject the offer with a counteroffer of a middle finger drawn on a note. Sheila drives off into the sunset (metaphorically speaking).
The tag of this episode ends with Tim and Sam giving Sheila a framed copy of the control top ad with “the check that you should have been paid forty years ago.” “Inflation not included.” She wants to try to break the frame so she can deposit the check; they try to explain it’s ceremonial. Lea cheers everyone up with an internet gem she found: Tim and Sam’s “April in the D” video. We end while watching Tim “Madman” Cramblin and Sam “Madman” Duvet sing an even worse song than Walt Worsch’s.
Really funny episode, my favorite of the two. So many laugh lines I didn’t cover.
- Mort Crim Watch: “A local man is in dire need of a kidney tonight, and he’s not telling anyone why. But first, on the lighter side of the news…”
- Everything that comes out of Tim Meadows’ mouth– really, everything to do with Walt Worsch– is gold. Perhaps my favorite: “If we’re being 100, it would help me a ton if you got bit by a dog between now and the court date. And by the way, it’s really easy. Wait until they’re eating and grab ’em by the crotch.”
- Apparently Sheila’s last name is Portnadi. Not sure we ever got that information in season 1.
- Great physical comedy in the Doner meetings, between Tim and Sam’s inability to handle their Vernor’s, to Tim sliding the counter-offer note all the way around the conference table.
- When Tim and Sam asks if they’d still make commercials as Cramblin-Duvet, Ryan explains they wouldn’t. “We would change the name…” They immediately start brainstorming. “Team Viper Snake Squad.” “Rowdy Boys.”
- Another Doner executive reveals he’s encountered Walt Worsch before: “My cousin got bit by a dog; he couldn’t do anything for him.” But he’s kind of a mack at dog bites!
- Lea’s joke about a nerd they’re looking at for a Science Museum testimonial: “I wouldn’t jerk that guy off with Freddy Kruger’s hand.” Tim and Sam both immediately take umbrage with the seemingly prepared joke and with the logic of the joke.
- “Tommy’s freaking out. He keeps saying how none of this is in the Bible.”
- “GET THAT EDGE!” I’d be pissed too if I had to mow the shoulders of state highways because of my boss’ incompetence.
Episode 2, “Jefferson Porger”
Cold open is with Jerry Minor as the titular owner of a menswear store, trying to find an actor/model for his commercials. After rejecting the first few options (“His butt’s too big! I need a butt, not a birdbath”), he settles on Sam. Cue Sam in amazing suits throughout most of the rest of the episode. Cue Sam letting an onscreen role get to his head a little. Cue Tim getting jealous.
This plot strongly echoes season 1’s “Devereux Wigs,” when Tim gets upset/jealous that Sam is a much better singer than him, and that’s part of the reason it wasn’t quite as strong for me. (Well, that and the fact that few people on the planet are as funny as Tim Meadows.) Still, this plot ends up paying off pretty well.
In the B-plot, Sheila and Lea head out to a girl’s lunch; Sheila makes a joke that it’s “No boys allowed” and “Girls only… and no, we’re not that way.” Then at lunch, they run into Lea’s girlfriend Scarlett. Cue Sheila frantically trying to overcompensate the rest of the episode, by telling Polish jokes to let Lea know she’s welcome to return fire at any time, to prominently placing a Pride flag on her desk. It all needs to a nice conversation where Sheila admits “I just don’t want you to think I’m racist against gays just because I’m old,” and Lea tells her that it’s okay, she just made a bad joke, and the overcompensation is making her more suspicious than anything. Then a woman drops off Sheila’s keys, telling her “You left these at my house last night. I love you.” Lea: “Did you tell her to do that to make me think you were gay?” “Yes, but that was before the overcompensating conversation.”
Meanwhile, the fame and recognition that come with being on screen is getting to Sam’s head, and Tim is getting increasingly upset. So when they need someone to play “Schlubby Nerd #1” in a commercial for a teens-only club, Tim rejects all the actors who showed up and manipulates his way into getting the role himself. He then decides to rewrite the role from “Schlubby Nerd #1” to “Mr. Groove,” a cool dude the teens all want to party with, which makes him just come across like a pedophile. The client wants to try one the original way, but Tim won’t do it, so she finally lays into him. “Why would they want to party with a weird old man?”
They go ahead and make the commercial with Sam as “Mr. Groove” instead… and we only see that commercial leading into a Mort Crim segment: “That was the commercial that led to the shutdown at Boom Teen Nightclub Earlier today…” I didn’t get an exact quote, but unsurprisingly, numerous middle-aged men showed up disguised as teens. “When asked what they were doing, the men said, ‘Mr. Groove sent us.'” Sam and Tim agree it’s probably for the best that they don’t appear in commercials anymore. That’s too bad, because honestly the segment where they film the commercial was my favorite of the episode.
- Reviews will be cross-posted at The Avocado, although they will publish here first.
- We get our first glimpse this season of Ned the security guard. He has no tagline pitches this time, but he’s thoroughly impressed with Sam’s TV appearance. (Tim: “I wrote that commercial.” Ned: “What did you write? ‘Guys wearing suits’?”)
- I think this is the first indication we’ve had of Lea’s sexuality, although I could be wrong.
- Sheila’s Polish joke: “How many Polish people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Five, because four of them put it in the wrong hole… nope, because you can put it in any hole, and that’s okay. I’m not a bigot!”
- Sam and Tim meet an actor at the bar who’s drinking vodka to save calories. Sam amends his drink order appropriately: “Can we have two vodkas, and one beer for my chubby little friend here?”
- Sheila is not having it with every actor making the same joke about the audition.
- Tim’s wife on him being in a commercial: “Tim… just be careful.” “What does that mean?” “It means… I love you. Good night.”
- Apparently Sheila’s revenge prank is to put sardines in her neighbor’s gas tank. As we see in the tag, this somehow makes the engine explode (and is well-known enough that he knows to check the tank after it happens).[
- Sheila’s gangster walk through the smoke afterward calls to mind her driving away last episode– is every episode this season going to end with some kind of dramatic exit by Sheila?
- “Do you want to invite her to lunch?” “No. She drives me nuts. Go home, Ann!”
- TIM: ME? How am I old or weird? SAM: Well, the fedora doesn’t work. CLIENT: That jacket!
- The show is filmed on location in Detroit, where Richardson and Robinson are both from, and the show apparently contains many local details and touches. If you are familiar enough with Detroit to recognize these, please share.
- It felt wrong to run a header image for the return of the show without both Sam and Tim, but I also had to include one of Sam in a dope Jefferson Porger suit.