The initial promos for Angie Tribeca may have viewers confused about whether the new TBS show is a drama or a comedy - and that's the point.
The Naked Gun-esque comedy is the brainchild of Steve and Nancy Carell, starring Rashida Jones (The Office, Parks and Recreation) as the titular detective who's trying to solve crimes amidst nonsensical gaffes and straight-faced jokes.
"It's such a specific tone and I think walking the line [between serious and comedy] is a good way of putting it," Carell said during the Television Critics Association winter previews on Thursday. "The rules are always changing. It's a case-by-case, moment-by-moment decision you have to make. The whole idea is that none of these characters know they are in a comedy and we start from that... what works and what doesn't, we'll see. You have to use yourself as a barometer."
Carell admits that the show didn't come together until they cast Jones. "The first part of it was Rashida. There's such a high level of difficulty in what she's doing in this," he explained. "To play that part and be so committed to it and give it depth in a strange way, amongst all the silliness... that's the linchpin of this entire show." This is a strange way to describe a show that he pitched as a "comedy without heart."
Comedy vets, including Jere Burns (Justified), Deon Cole (Black-ish) and Hayes MacArthur (Go On), make up the supporting cast. "There is a human aspect to these characters, which ultimately can help. It's not only absurd and silly and ridiculous, but they are people you kind of want to see and hang out with a bit," Carell said. "So I did move away from that original pitch, but it's not about the heart. [Heart] is not a priority. The heart is always at the expense of the joke."
Jones has faith that the quirky coldness of Angie will find an audience. "This is an era now where a show doing well is not dependent on necessarily tapping culturally," she said. "Who would have thought all of these shows that have been popular — like a women's prison dark comedy or a dude that makes meth and is a teacher - [would be successful]? There's so much room now and places to show content to seek audiences that enjoy it."
Angie's audience will have a 25-hour chance to find it when TBS hosts an all-day, commercial free "binge-a-thon" on Jan. 17.