in Television

TV Review: The First Three Episodes of “The Spoils of Babylon”

As someone who isn’t terribly familiar with the miniseries “events” that would air on American TV back in the ’70s and ’80s, I still found the first two episodes of The Spoils of Babylon oddly enjoyable. Created by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, 2.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the premiere of The Spoils of Babylon, a spoof show airing on IFC that parodies TV event miniseries like The Thorn Birds. Just like those miniseries, The Spoils of Babylon boasts an all-star cast consisting of Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins, Carey Mulligan’s voice, and much more.

Ferrell plays Eric Jonrosh, the “Author, Producer, Actor, Writer, Director, Raconteur, Bon Vivant, Legend, Fabulist” who gives an unnecessarily long-winded introduction to the week’s episode. In the miniseries itself, Maguire and Wiig play star-crossed lovers who also happen to be adopted brother and sister. Robbins plays their father, a simple-minded farmer who becomes a rich oil tycoon after digging around his empty plot of land for years and years.

This is a weird show. Like, really weird. And it makes sense that Ferrell would be behind something like this. This is the guy who produced and starred in Casa de mi padre, a parody film on telenovelas where Ferrell speaks terrible Spanish the entire time. He clearly doesn’t shy away from wacky story ideas, and this is certainly one of them. While I might not love this show and accept everything it does or is trying to do, it does leave a lasting impression, and that’s to Ferrell’s credit. I’m not someone who particularly enjoys Will Ferrell movies or Ferrell’s style of humor, but I can appreciate what he’s doing with The Spoils of Babylon. This show fully embraces the wacky and crazy, and I sort of admire that quality about it.

As for our actors, Wiig brings her familiar SNL quirks and sensibilities to the role of Cynthia Morehouse. Maguire does a pretty fantastic job, as well, as someone who earnestly believes in everything he’s saying. Stranger yet, you have Carey Mulligan voice a female mannequin (with a man’s body) who is supposed to be an actual character that everyone interacts with. It’s absurd, and that’s precisely what makes it so strangely hilarious.

The third episode, “Kicking the Habit,” definitely lost me. I probably won’t be continuing The Spoils of Babylon, at least not on a week-to-week basis, but I’d say it’s worth checking out if you have the time – especially if you’re a fan of Will Ferrell. I’m not saying you’ll enjoy it (no doubt some people will find this absolutely hysterical), but I guarantee you’ll have some sort of reaction to The Spoils of Babylon.

Grade: C+