TV: Detroiters - S02 E05-07 - Reviewed

Just when you thought that Detroiters could not be any more Detroit-focused (I mean, why wouldn’t it be) the latest batch of episodes has some historical nods to classic Motor City ads that, if you’re old enough to remember them, will put a smile on your face. 
Episode 5, Farmer Zack, is an obvious play on Farmer Jack, the grocery food chain that sadly went belly up in 2007. (Full disclosure, my uncle was a manager at a Farmer Jack in metro Detroit, so this episode definitely resonated with me.) The episode cleverly ties in just enough of the original Farmer Jack jingle for viewers to recognize, but with its own spin – it is, Farmer Zack, after all – that provides the basic plot structure of the episode and saves the production from having to pay for usage rights. 

The jingle was performed by Sam (Sam Richardson) and his ex-girlfriend, who apparently had so much chemistry that the ad continues to make people horny and in the mood for grocery shopping years after it was first recorded. Not wanting his new love (also a singer) to feel cast aside, Sam comes up with the idea to re-record the jingle, to update and “modernize” Farmer Zack’s signature style. 
The actual Farmer Zack is played hilariously by Faizon Love, a comedian known for many roles, but the only one that matters for yours truly is as the manager of Gimbels in Elf. He brings the same comedic timing to every scene in the episode and as both an actor and comedian gets the note of playing a frustrated but eager manager/store owner just right. 
As anyone who reads our reviews is already aware, we do not spoil anything here, so I’ll spare the details on how the episode ends. Overall, it’s yet another wonderful example of the show’s dedication and passion for Detroit and is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face who is interested in watching. 
That idea is taken up a few notches in episode 6, entitled Mort Crim, the famous Detroit broadcast journalist who retired from WDIV in 1997. (Another full disclosure: I currently work for WDIV. Take that for what it is.) 

Throughout both season 1 and 2, Crim has appeared in various hilarious news segments and clips while Sam and Tim (Tim Robinson) watch at the bar or in their office or, sometimes, at home. This episode, however, puts Crim front and center, when the guys seek his help in being the spokesperson for Garner Weich (another genius play on a local staple, Gardner-White). 
They get more than they bargained for when, instead of selling the products he’s supposed to, Crim launches on a comedic tirade against ISIS, threatening to come after them at any opportunity. Once again, I won’t spoil what happens from there, but it’s safe to say that Mort Crim is another one of many gems so far in the sophomore season of Detroiters. It takes the very best of Detroit and has fun with it, without making fun of it. There’s a love and appreciation here, even for ads and businesses that might have failed. There is no judgement, just keen observation and natural humor, which is why this show deserves more credit than it’s currently given. 

Of the 3 latest episodes, the most recent one, Lois, was the only miss for me. It was still funny, and I understood what the episode’s central themes were dealing with – namely, Sam trying to be someone he’s not after being accused of speaking proper by his black neighbors and later learning to accept himself for who he is – but it just felt like a half-baked idea that didn’t really need a full episode. 
The title comes from a character who works with Sam’s sister/Tim’s wife, Chrissy (Shawntay Dalon) and who, by the episode’s opening credits, passes away from having smoked one too many cigarettes. While Sam struggles with his own identity in the episode’s B-story, Tim offers to be there for Lois’s grieving husband, who doesn’t know how to do anything including making his own bed or getting himself a sandwich. 
The scenes with the two of them are funny, but again after several episodes that really focused on Detroit-specific humor, this one just felt a little out of place. I will say, however, that this episode’s final scene, where Lois’s husband finally begins taking care of himself, makes everything that came before it a wonderful setup and payoff. I did actually laugh out loud. 

That’s what continues to be great about Detroiters: Even if there are some minor misses along the way, I challenge you not to actually be laughing (at times in tears) out loud at what’s being shown on screen. Rare is the comedy that can do that, especially these days. I’ve never been more proud to be from Detroit. 

-Matt Giles