While wading through the Netflix originals library, there are moments when the cornucopia of content Ted Sarandos initially envisioned becomes clear. Maybe it’s during the “BoJack Horseman” credits sequence. Maybe it’s when Debbie and Ruth have it out at the hospital in “GLOW.” Maybe it’s right after a ginormous psychic octopus wraps its tentacles around Brit Marling. It’s a different moment for everyone, but at some point each open-minded Netflix subscriber must think, “Oh, this is what peak TV was supposed to give us: original ideas, fully realized — no matter how weird.”
Little did I know it, dear reader, but watching Sam Richardson step through a Christmas time portal into Ebenezer Scrooge’s bedroom so they can fight undead space skeletons is one of my moments. Sure, it helps he’s dressed like Tom Cruise in Doug Liman’s action gem “Edge of Tomorrow” and shouts “That’s good bone crushin’!” as the confused old Scrooge wails away on dinosaur fossils, but so many scenes from Tim Robinson’s new sketch show, “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson,” hit that sweet spot — outrageous creativity and bewildering simplicity. Adventurous viewers will undoubtedly find a handful of moments all their own.
Produced by The Lonely Island — Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone — the new six-episode series bounces between standalone sketches filled with a few familiar faces. Almost all include the former “Detroiters” star in one way or another, whether he’s an awards host beefing with a guest’s pupper or a birthday party guest determined to know whether or not he brought a worthy gift. From time to time, you may spot an ex-“SNL” star or two, including Samberg, Will Forte, Cecily Strong, and Vanessa Bayer, as well as a few more welcome performers like Steven Yeun, Patti Harrison, and the aforementioned Richardson.
They don’t stick around for long. None of the sketches recur or connect, but each episode is also quite brief: around 15 – 17 minutes a piece. Bite-sized might be the most appetizing portion for Robinson’s sense of humor. It’s not that he’s abrasive (though he does spend a lot of sketches screaming at the top of his lungs); it’s just that any kind of weirdness has a way of blending together when binged, and Robinson’s savvy set-ups deserve to be acknowledged.
Take another sketch starring his old “Detroiters” co-star and co-creator Richardson: “Baby of the Year” picks up in the final round of a baby judging reality competition series. Richardson is the host trying to keep a rowdy crowd from cursing out unfavorable toddlers, and the panel of judges soon starts adding to the madness by divulging problematic secrets. Part of what makes the scene so funny is its inherent absurdity: It’s funny to hear a middle-aged man, caught up in the contest, yell “I hope you fucking die Harley Jarvis” at a biker-clad “bad boy” baby. It’s funny, in part, because it’s insane.
But those disgusting fan tendencies aren’t far removed from the questionable antics raised in other, seemingly innocent reality competition series, and Robinson knows it. I mean, less than a year ago, Brits were calling to bring out the pitchforks against a shy little baker who took too much time baking his delicate bakery treat. We, as a people, are not above attacking innocent babies.
Robinson also excels at building in quick little jabs of observational humor. In the above “Baby of the Year” sketch, an “In Memoriam” segment points out the consistently gut-churning practice of valuing some dead stars over others. Later, when a revenge-seeking Will Forte sits down next to Robinson on a flight, the sketch’s story is another preposterous exercise in goofy wish fulfillment — which, for the record, Robinson acknowledges by oh-so-often playing someone who’s in on the absurdity — but there are little jabs at annoying airline behaviors, too. (Forte chides a man about to take his seat for blocking his path out of the seat by standing in the aisle — come on, people, just move out of the way!)
Like all sketch series, not every entry is gold, but “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” earns bonus points for its self-awareness. Not only does Robinson know how to best share his creative inspirations, but he knows when to cut himself off. The first season can be consumed in an hour and 40 minutes, making it a reasonable length for a feature film and an ideal timeframe for short-form comedy. “I Think You Should Leave” won’t be for everyone, but it’s going to be a few subscribers’ new favorite show — just as Ted Sarandos intended.
“I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” Season 1 is available now on Netflix.