[This post originally appeared as part of Recommendation Machine, IndieWire’s daily TV picks feature.]
Where to Watch “Detroiters”: Paramount+
I could spend paragraphs explaining why “Detroiters” is one of the best comedies of the past decade. There would be plenty of discussion of the on-screen best-friend chemistry of Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson (here as Sam and Tim, co-heads of upstart Detroit-area ad agency Cramblin Duvet) and an explanation of why this show is the best argument for giving some of the funniest people on the planet the resources to make what they want.
But no words can capture the magic of this show better than these two incredible minutes of television.
It starts with the scene-setting. The Cramblin Duvet team is nothing if not economical. Andre Belue (playing the impeccably named Tommy Pencils) duct-taping a makeshift boom mic tells you everything you need to know about them: It may not be conventional, but it’ll get the job done. Tim and Sam’s genuine awe at working with local Detroit newscaster (and occasional third member of The White Stripes) Mort Crim gets at how much “Detroiters” is driven by wild enthusiasm. These guys love their jobs! Even if it means having to adjust on the fly when a celebrity endorser goes rogue.
Crim’s delivery is clearly pitch-perfect, but it’s a credit to how much the show over a season and a half bolsters his credentials as a local legend. He’s the Greek chorus of everything happening in the city outside the Sam and Tim sphere, popping up on the TV at the bar where the two go for after-work drinks. By the time you get to see him in person — with an introduction soundtracked by another Detroit-area star, no less — he delivers on that larger-than-life reputation that “Detroiters” has laid out for him.
And as he’s delivering that impossible-to-use ad lib, the guy turns it into his own Shakespearean melody. “You win? America’s yours. I win? You give democracy a good old college try. Plus: There’s a cash prize!” is a blissful pairing of writing and muse that won’t soon be topped. There’s a reason the episode is called “Mort Crim.”
That clip is the centerpiece of the episode (and, with the possible exceptions of the Devereux Wig jingle or the Walt Worsch ad, the whole dang show), but “Mort Crim” has plenty of other touches that make it worth watching. There’s a running gag about Tim’s jacket, a “Beverly Hills Cop” riff, some jokes about Chuck E. Cheese. Any time an episode invokes a member of the 2004 Pistons team, you know you’ve got gold on your hands. (Richardson mouthing “wow” after re-entering a business meeting and Robinson shouting at a phone after it’s over: both timeless.)
Because it’s all built on a seemingly impossible triple foundation of friendship, goofiness, and sincerity, there are “Detroiters” jokes that, even though they have punchlines based on Facebook and ISIS, somehow land as well now as they did when the episode first aired.
Is “Mort Crim” a perfect episode of TV? Perhaps not. Is it even missing some of the more memorable “Detroiters” characters, like any member of the Duvet family or Sam’s ex Molly (played by Amber Ruffin, who also wrote a few episodes of the show)? Yes.
But at the episode’s close, when Sam and Tim clink beer bottles at the bar and say, “Cheers. I love you,” you believe it. And the best part? There are still 19 other episodes left.