Reviewed! ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ Stays Fresh in Season Three

/ Jan 21, 2014


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There’s always been a hidden smirk to the title of Jerry Seinfeld’s breezy, conversational lark of a series. “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” produced by Crackle and sponsored by Acura, promises exactly what it says on the tin: Seinfeld showing off some exotic automobile (turns out Jay Leno isn’t the only one with a car fetish), then picking up a fellow comedian and taking them out for coffee.

That premise seems simple, but actually allows for a near-infinite amount of diversity — there are boat trips, breakdowns (on the car’s part), and some great stories told over the course of the three seasons. Some of comedy’s great legends, from Mel Brooks to Don Rickles to David Letterman, have been featured on the series for informal chats that prove truly revealing.

Here’s the thing. I love coffee. I love comedians. I appreciate a decent automobile. So why I haven’t I been able to make “Comedians In Cars” appointment viewing?

It’s hard to deny that “Comedians” is one of the best-made digital series out there, and has only improved since its first season. Episodes of the third season, which premiered January 2, are top-to-bottom great in terms of production value — while the Acura product placement is a bit over-the-top, the actual interstitial ads are fresh and funny enough to stand alongside the quips and bits Seinfeld pulls out of his guests.

He doesn’t have a hard time doing so — everyone, for the most part, seems pretty relaxed hanging with Seinfeld on camera. Which is perhaps a problem — the lack of the conflict.

As fun and fresh as “Comedians” is, it’s not hard to imagine the show fitting in on any number of lifestyle-oriented cable channels (the Esquire Network is probably kicking itself for not coming up with this one). But the appeal of those type of shows usually comes out of pulling the host out of his or her comfort zone — something that runs completely counter-intuitive to the core of “Comedians.”

And a big factor in that is the lack of diversity. It is notable that in the first two seasons of the show, Seinfeld sat down with exactly one woman (Sarah Silverman) and two person of color (Chris Rock and Mario Joyner) — with upcoming announced guests for season three including Tina Fey and… Tina Fey.

I’ll be very excited to watch the Tina Fey episode, but it’d be great to see future seasons of “Comedians” push Seinfeld to speak with people who aren’t necessarily people he’s been friends with for the last 10-plus years. With the format of the show established, there’s an opportunity for him to showcase younger talents — the Seinfelds of the future, if you will.

When I mentioned before that it wasn’t hard to imagine “Comedians” working on cable, I should clarify that it does truly belong in the digital sphere. Why? Timing.

The thing that makes “Comedians” a product of the web is the fluctuating episode lengths — which are, quite honestly, one of the show’s primary virtues. Some guests, such as Seth Meyers, are more than enjoyable for their 13 minutes, but giving Louie C.K. double that is just one of the smartest decisions you can make, especially given the stories he has to tell (and the strange little orange Fiat Seinfeld chooses for their day’s excursion).

“Comedians,” in short, has the chance to be more than a lark on Seinfeld’s part — it could truly be an anchor not just for Crackle, but for digital content. But in order to hit that mark, it needs just the slightest bit more ambition.

Maybe it could use some more coffee.

Full episodes are not embeddable, so here’s the trailer for season three:

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