IFC will premiere “The Spoils Before Dying” as a 3-night miniseries event, kicking off tonight, Wednesday, July 8, followed by Thursday, July 9 and Friday, July 10. Two half-hour episodes of the six part miniseries will air each evening starting at 9pm ET/PT.
Described as a debaucherous pulp-noir murder mystery set in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles’ jazz scene, “The Spoils Before Dying” follows Rock Banyon (Michael Kenneth Williams) as he becomes the in the double murder of his occasional lover Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph) who is found dead with another man. Panicked, Rock splits for Mexico where he reunites with his one-time big band singer Delores DeWinter (Kristen Wiig). With 72-hours to clear his name or fry in the electric chair, Rock and Delores embark on a dangerous quest for the truth that takes them into an abyss of sex, drugs, betrayal, and of course, jazz. While his world crumbles, Rock’s hard-charging manager Alistair St. Barnaby (Haley Joel Osment) pressures him to record a mainstream jazz album.
Additional cast includes Michael Sheen, Kate McKinnon, Tim Meadows, Lou Gossett Jr., Chris Parnell, Emily Ratajkowski, Steve Tom, Marc Evan Jackson, Jesse Williams, Andrew Daly, Chris Mulkey, Chin Han, Ted Levine, Jack Kilmer, Bérénice Marlohe and Patty Guggenheim.
“The Spoils Before Dying” is produced by Funny Or Die and executive produced by Ferrell, Adam McKay, Matt Piedmont, Andrew Steele and Nate Young. Steele and Piedmont wrote the miniseries, with Piedmont also directing.
Early reviews of the event series are mixed. Here’s a smaple:
From Variety: Nobody appeared to be clamoring for a follow-up to “The Spoils of Babylon,” but how often does IFC get the opportunity to feature Will Ferrell and a lot of his famous pals for three hours? Enter “The Spoils Before Dying,” another six-part sendup courtesy of Ferrell’s Funny or Die banner that the channel will air over successive nights. A slightly more polished product than its predecessor, which lampooned vintage miniseries, this one is more of a noir-ish thriller, once again featuring Ferrell’s pompous, bloated novelist-turned-filmmaker Eric Jonrosh as tour guide through an uneven homage to showbiz in the bad old days.
From The Hollywood Reporter: Despite the occasional laughs, though, this is still a one-note premise stretched excruciatingly thin, evidenced in an early scene in which Wiig’s chanteuse belts a spirited ode to “Booze ’n’ Pills.” It’s funny at first, but Wiig never deepens the jest, merely repeating the lyrics (just “booze ’n’ pills” over and over) with minor variation until her paltry attempt to wring laughs becomes glaring. (Call it SNL syndrome.) Compare the sequence to its seeming inspiration—the hilarious “I’m Tired” musical number from Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, featuring Madeline Kahn as an exasperated Dietrich-like diva—and its feebleness is even more pronounced. It’s this same sort of skin-deep comedy that’s stretched out over the entirety of the miniseries, to the point that at the beginning of episode six, when Ferrell-as-Jonrosh says, with evident exhaustion, “You made it!”, it hardly feels like he’s having a laugh.
From A.V. Club: The Spoils Before Dying is almost too well-made at times, with Banyon’s stirring defenses of artistic integrity (a man does, in fact, have to have a code) and freedom from oppression coming across, even in Jonrosh’s purple prose, as something the author (who claims to have been drummed out of America over similar, real-life stances) truly believes in. It’d be like watching Ed Wood give his impassioned speech in defense of crossdressers in Glen Or Glenda if Glen were played by Michael K. Williams instead of the infamously terrible director himself. There’s nothing more disastrously funny than someone whose passionate beliefs outstrip his ability to express himself. Eric Jonrosh is a terrible writer—luckily, in filming his The Spoils Before Dying, he accidentally attracted a great leading man.
And from RogerEbert.com: “The Spoils Before Dying” fluctuates wildly from very clever to somewhat exhausting, but it gets better as it goes along, or perhaps I just got accustomed to its unique sense of humor. As Jonrosh says at the end of episode two, “Perfect should never get in the way of good.” “The Spoils Before Dying” is far from perfect but it’s still pretty good.
Like I said, mixed. I’ll be checking it out myself, when it premieres tonight on IFC.
New clips from the mini-series have been released and are embedded below: