I and all the other Detroiters superfans (there are dozens of us! Dozens!) have been stoked for this episode ever since the title was leaked. Mort Crim might have the best laughs-per-word ratio on this show: Every news-story tagline or Chump of the Week segment is pure gold. Would he be able to maintain that level of comedy with a little more development and screentime?
Well, the answer is “not quite,” but that’s okay. While Mort isn’t a non-stop joke machine, the development in his character we get– in particular that the wise certainty with which he broadcasts isn’t an act and runs deep– is worth it, and plus he’s still comedy gold.
We open with Ned the security guard pitching Tim and Sam some more of his absolutely horrendous taglines, while they try to scramble out of there so they don’t miss Mort’s Chump of the Week. They make it to the bar just in time to see Mort give the award to “Dale Stern, the principal of Diana Lewis elementary, who permanently canceled Pizza Fridays. Now if pizza’s not healthy, how come I’ve never seen a fat Italian? You, sir, are a pepperoni.”
We go from this to the B-plot, where Ned turns off the TV at the desk after Chump of the Week ends, then looks out the door and sees Kangaroo Man. He runs out: “What’s in the pouch? Can I fight it? I’ll beat the shit out of this kangaroo!” Unfortunately, Ned fails to shut the door, meaning the next morning he’s giving a police report about the building getting robbed. Sam and Tim head upstairs to learn that the thieves took the copy machine and all the paper; Lea’s laptop, Sheila’s work Scotch, and Sam’s top hat. (“WITH THE HOLLY?!”) They don’t, however, take Tim’s leather jacket, which he thinks is really cool but everyone else thinks stinks (literally). Anyway, no time to deal with that now, as they’ve got a meeting with Garner-Weich furniture.
Sam and Tim pitch the couple who own the store appearing in the commercial, which they turn down because “We’re afraid people will recognize us from our user-submitted Pornhub video.” This leads to one of the most hilarious bits in the episode, Sam immediately responding with “Pardon me real quick I have to check my email privately,” leaving the room, and coming back wide-eyed and mouthing “WOW” to Tim. The store owners suggest animals, but Sam and Tim aren’t allowed to work with animals anymore because “We glued two bugs together for an exterminator commercial.” “Mort Crim usually doesn’t comment on commercials, but he called it a bummer.”
This leads the owners to suggest Mort Crim, which Sam and Tim laugh off because you can’t get a star like him for a local commercial. Mr. Garner-Weich (I don’t know which name belongs to whom, or if they both took the hyphenated name, and I don’t care to figure it out) gives them a stirring speech, though, and they agree to at least try. They find the bar where Mort hangs out to play pool– delightfully introduced hustling the table to Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights”– and introduce themselves afterward. They offer to buy him a drink– “Well, you sure can. And food, too.”– and get to talking business.
It turns out Mort has a lot of creative and philosophical questions about the commercial. “What’s the big idea? Why do this commercial now?” Sam and Tim can’t do better than “to sell furniture,” so Mort continues. “The commercial’s got to speak to what people really care about.” Re: the sofas they’re selling: “It’s a place where you think about the things that really matter to you. The economy, healthcare… ISIS, North Korea. It’s not a sofa. It’s Plymouth Rock.”
“You want to sell furniture, you go get Guy Gordon. You want Mort Crim, you better be ready to get real.”
Tim and Sam love the level of commitment, and this guides their script for the commercial. They seem to be on the same page at filming the next day– even their notes agree– and then Mort goes off script at the end:
“The economy in shambles, unemployment at an all-time high. The chilling reality that we’re living every moment in the bloodthirsty crosshairs of ISIS. Folks, I won’t sugarcoat it. ISIS won’t stop until every last one of us is pink mist in the wind.”
They suggest Mort tone down the ISIS rhetoric. Immediately afterward:
“ISIS, let’s settle this thing once and for all. you choose your best man, you send him here to Garner-Weich, to fight me, Mort Crim. Winner take all. You win: America’s yours. I win, you give good old-fashioned democracy a try,” also volunteering Garner-Weich to put up a $25,000 cash prize.
It’s not working, so they just go ahead and shoot the commercial. The night it airs, they decide to watch it at a bar, where it’s revealed Sam dubbed “prices” over every time Mort says “ISIS” (which doesn’t make much sense when Mort fires a pistol at a watermelon, but you work with what you’ve got).
Mort is not happy afterward: “Well, son a butcher. Normally i don’t comment on the commercials, but that’s not what I said. It just sucks being tricked. Moving on, a sinkhole in Clinton township caused a– you know what, I’m gonna do something I usually reserve for the end of the show. But I’m doing it now. Queue it, Donnie:”
Mort moves his “Chump of the Week” segment up in response to the commercial: “Sam Duvet and Tim Cramblin, local businessmen and liars, are my Chumps of the Week. And that’s that.”
The next day, the whole office and city knows, and it’s a serious thing. Lea greets them with “Morning, chumps!” and Sam yells back “YOU’RE FIRED!” before Tim calms him down. Tommy Pencils spits on the window to their office– which, quite reasonably, they respond to with, “What the hell are you doing? Clean that up!” Sheila informs them “You received many boxes of diarrhea this morning in the mail,” which is apparently Chump of the Week tradition.
So to solve this, Sam and Tim approach Mort, apologize, and tell them they’ll run the original commercial. “All the ISIS stuff actually tested very well.” Mort accepts but he can’t take back Chump of the Week: “I didn’t do it for Rasheed Wallace, and I’m not doing it for you.”
They close at the bar, where Mort reveals his new Chump of the Week: “You know who pissed me off? My Facebook friend Mark Sagadudi. When somebody famous dies, don’t just post a story about a time you met them.” And Tim got Sam a replacement top hat: “I know it’s not the same one you were Snowcoming King in,” and there’s no holly, but it’s the thought that counts.
And in an ending that pretty well sums up the aesthetic of this show, Tim and Sam exchange “Love you, buddy” while Mort signs us off: “Good night, Detroit, for now until the sun comes up.”
I skipped over most of this, but every Ned scene is a gem: The morning after the robbery, he describes the robbers: “Five or six women, big as hell, big ass bats. Big-ass titties, too. And then one of ’em grabbed my d–” which is where he gets cut off when Tim and Sam arrive.
The next time we see him, Tim and Sam are leaving the building and he’s being berated by Wanda, presumably his boss. Tim and Sam ask her to take it easy on Ned– “he’s the nicest security guard”– and this just leads her to berate him further when they leave. “Oh, you’re Joe Cool! You Snoopy with the sunglasses! You screw up one more goddamn time, and you’ll be back checking hand stamps at the Chuck-E-Cheese!”
This leads to a much more aggressive Ned, physically stopping people from entering (as opposed to his previous restriction of issuing three “Sir”s), bragging about his new equipment (“Don’t tell ’em my gun is rubber, though” and sharing a conversation with Sam and Tim about what happened with Wanda:
NED: I’m not going back to Chuck-E-Cheese. The guy wore his real jeans. Like, jeans from home. Jeans, shirt, big-ass Chuck-E-Cheese head.
TIM: Son of a bitch!
NED: I can’t take that, man.
One of my favorite sitcom devices is “characters who share the same absurd logic,” aka the “Mind Grapes” rule, and Tim and Ned’s exchange is a delight for that reason.
That night, Ned leaves the door open again when he leaves… but this time he’s staking out the building, so when someone breaks in, he’s ready, rubber gun drawn. The perp smacks the gun out of his hand immediately. “The gun is real, the floor must be rubber.” The perp assaults Ned, but quickly thinking, Ned handcuffs himself to him. This continues, but only for a few moments before flashing lights show up and Ned reveals he called for backup before he entered. Pretty smart thinking from Ned, who earns his job here, even if the Scooby-Doo unmasking moment falls short dramatically: ‘Oh my God, I’ve never seen you before in my life!”
Great episode all around– maybe not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as the last two weeks, but the increased presence of both Ned and Mort Crim makes up for a lot of ground in that regard, and so this still stands as a classic Detroiters.
STRAY TAG LINES
- I can’t not cite Ned’s pitch taglines. “Meat: Cook that shit or your ass gonna get sick.” “Onion rings: French Fries with pussy holes!”
- Mort’s first sign-off: “I’m Mort Crim, and that’s all the news in the entire world.”
- Why did Sam and Tim glue two bugs together? “To make it look like they were kissing.”
- For someone who “usually doesn’t comment on commercials,” we’ve had three Mort Crim commercial comments in the last two episodes, between the bugs and the dubbing this episode, and the Farmer Zack jingle last episode making him “horny.”
- Sam can’t contain his excitement in describing the Garner-Weich Pornhub video: “SHE STOMPS ON HIS BALLS! He’s a naughty boy, and she stomps on his balls!”
- Mort Crim’s dating wisdom: “It’s like, flirting is sometimes more fun than sex.” “Yeah, I like sex.” “I like soup, too, son. But I like heating it up first.”
- Mort Crim’s Motown anecdote: “So I say to Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s going on?’ And it’s like a lightning bolt hits. He says, ‘Mort, you know I already did an album with a name.’”
- Most of Ned’s newfound aggression is taken out on Toby, the tall skinny white guy who wears his sunglasses indoors. “You get your big Jon Arbuckle-looking ass out of here, now!”
- Sam and Tim lament their Chump of the Week status: “I wish I was dead. I wish I was somebody else. Not you, though. You’re Chump of the Week, too.” “I told Chrissy, she didn’t give a crap!” “She’s an idiot. An uneducated Philistine.”
- “I used to be the one sending boxes of diarrhea to the chump of the week!” “I hate that it’s us, but I love their passion.”
- Mort has two old-man bodyguards at the news station. Delightful.
- Mort: “Did you get your boxes full of crap?” Sam and Tim affirm. “God, I love this town.”
- The opening credits of Mort’s broadcast include Mort hanging from a helicopter, Mort going into a burning building, and Mort in a convertible with a much younger woman, giving a thumbs up.
- It turns out Mort does his broadcast standing up. “Welcome to the magic of television!”
- Mort opens that broadcast with, “A wedding party in Southfield turned ugly today when a bunch of ugly people showed up.”
- The final tag, which you may have missed if you watched live, since Comedy Central likes to run previews next week instead of the tag: “Is what we experience real, or is reality a computer simulation constructed by an advanced alien race? For more, our sports reporter, Jim Caputo.”