REVIEW: Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes (S0103, 2014)

(Paramount+/Pluto/VOD) Personal note: This will be the last daily recommendation for the foreseeable future, for reasons detailed below. I hope I haven’t wasted too much of anyone’s time, and my many sincere thanks to those who have commented and those I’ve conversed with over the past ~275 recommendations. You’ve been a balm through this very difficult time.

REVIEW was a fictional Comedy Central show — adapted from a more irreverent Australian show of the same name — centered around soliciting life experience queries from people and then ‘life-reviewer’ Forrest MacNeil (legendary cult comedian/actor/writer Andy Daly) would then find a way to live the experience, review it, and rate it on a five-star system.

While the show could — and definitely leaned into — slapstick behavior, it more often than not tackled more emotional challenges. In -Pancakes, Divorce, Pancakes-, the third episode of the opening season, Forrest is requested to:

1) Review eating 15 pancakes:

2) Review getting divorced (unfortunately not available via YouTube)

3) Review eating 30 pancakes:

Forrest commits to all of it and it’s so hilariously tragic, partially because he’s so blindly committed to his job, but also because he feels he has a personal contract with an audience that barely exists with which he has his own unwritten personal rules that he must abide by. (Especially in the -Divorce- segment, where most of the comedy is elicited by the fact that he feels he can’t tell his wife he’s doing this because of his show.)

I initially picked this episode as a quick-and-easy recommendation to write up but, while typing the above, I realized: Oh, fuck. I’ve become Forrest MacNeil.

I started these daily recommendations to give me a bit of structure and bonding with friends during lockdown. Also, I’d missed writing about media, as the last time I regularly did so was more than several years ago on my defunct videogame criticism/analysis website THE NEW GAMER. I thought: “I can find ~200-300 words a day about something I’ve watched that I love! Surely I can manage that for a year, or until I get to see a post-worthy film in a theater!”

That word limit lasted about three months. Then I added more unstated personal rules: I should post no later than midnight CST; if I haven’t watched it in over a year, I should re-watch it; if it’s an adaptation, I should read the book and comment on that; if there’s a TV adaptation, I should watch and touch on that. (To be fair, half of the time I had either already read the adaptation or watched some, if not all, of the TV adaptation. For example, my THE GHOST & MRS. MUIR recommendation with which I had previously done all three.)

Thanks to REVIEW, I’ve realized I’m currently writing these daily recommendations simply because of my own arbitrary rules and, while I love writing about media, it’s spun a bit out of control. It hasn’t been a bad experience by any means, but those dumb rules of mine ruined what was supposed to be a quick, dumb thing done for fun. That said, I’ll continue to write recommendations, but on far looser terms.

So, on that note, I’ll review this endeavor as Forrest MacNeil would: “Writing a daily media recommendation newsletter during a global pandemic: 4 stars.”

“This certainly is an upsetting number of pancakes.”