TV Recap: The Brink, Series Premiere

Written by Marley Ghizzone


The Brink Series Premiere Summary:

A coup erupts in Pakistan that could end up being the catalyst for World War III. Secretary of State Walter Larson (Tim Robbins), low level Foreign Service officer Alex Talbott (Jack Black), and Navy fighter pilot Zeke Tilson (Pablo Schreiber) find themselves at the forefront of the geopolitical crisis.

Tim Robbins in HBO's The Brink.
Photo Credit: Merie W. Wallace/ HBO

Comedy pilots are a very hard thing to do. Most comedies excel when the audience has an established relationship with the characters. If you go back to the first seasons of a favorite comedy you may notice you find it funnier than when you first saw it. It’s hard, then, to judge a comedy on its first episode or even its first couple of episodes. The Brink tried. But the trying turned desperate.

“Wow,” I think to myself. “These guys are so zany, so crazy. How are they in charge?” I continue to ponder this through the well-placed and clever rape jokes sandwiched between Nazi one-liners AND marijuana zingers. It’s during the back and forth “fuck you’s” between Secretary of State Walter Larson (Robbins) and the Vice President (Stephen Nelson) that it hit me. “The US Government is full of dummies and do everything wrong, ALWAYS. Also Americans are super ignorant, lol, I hate this country.” I then proceeded to search for a nice Russian man to marry me for a green card, so I could get out of the USA.

I’m not entirely sure what series creators and writers Kim and Roberto Benabib were going for. If, gun to my head, I had to venture a guess I would say political satire but satire is supposed to be clever. For satire to work the person creating it must know the real deal inside and out for the jokes to land. As the saying goes, “know the rules well so you can break them effectively.” The Benabib’s, however, do not seem to know the wise words of the Dalai Lama. Instead, they keep their satire at the most basic level.

Photo Credit: Merie W. Wallace/ HBO
Photo Credit: Merie W. Wallace/ HBO

I have taken a few scriptwriting classes and part of the process is reading and critiquing other people’s scripts. This means you see the beginnings of ideas and the first, second, third drafts. The Brink reminded me of reading those scripts because, though it has potential, it has no aim. It is still in the process of figuring out what it’s going to be. The Benabib’s have a nugget of an idea that needs more nurturing.

The jokes were all heavy handed which turned them into gross, unfunny piles of horror. Nevertheless, friends and family will not have to endure long winded rants about my specific and well thought out hatred. For all intents and purposes The Brink should be a bearable show, maybe even funny. And yet, here we are. Perhaps it will get better as the season goes on, but I won’t be checking in to make sure.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Marley Ghizzone is the current music editor and former Breaking News Editor for The Pop Break. Aside from writing news, Marley reviews television shows and the odd film. Pop culture is her drug of choice and her talents include binge watching entire seasons of TV shows obsessively fast and crying over fictional characters. Marley is a graduate of Rowan University. Follow her on twitter: @marleyveee