“Chip, you look like a clown, but you are not a clown.” This line from FX’s newest show, “Baskets,” sums up the show’s central problem: although it looks like it has the makings of a funny show, “Baskets” is rarely funny.
The show follows Chip Baskets, played by the bearded Zach Galifianakis, who moves back to his home town of Bakersfield, California, after failing to get a degree at a prestigious clown college in Paris, France. Dejected and broke, Chip takes a job as a rodeo clown to make a living, all the while trying to prove himself and keep his dream of becoming a professional clown alive.
The show’s biggest problem is that it wastes Galifianakis’ talent. Chip sometimes rides a scooter and sometimes he even smokes cigarettes while he rollerblades. But really, Galifianakis isn’t allowed to do or say all that much to give his character that needed spark of genius, which is a shame considering Galifianakis’ strong track record as an unconventional actor and stand-up comedian.
It is unfortunate that Galifianakis’ talents are confined to the one-dimensional Chip. To really stretch his comedic muscles and make the character his own, Galifianakis needs to be given the opportunity to take greater risks.
There are times when the cast’s deadpan performances are effective, resulting in some funny moments and verbal back-and-forth, but those moments are few and far between. Instead, the majority of the show is weighed down by slow pacing and uninteresting character development.
“Baskets” is co-created by a wealth of comedic talent including Galifianakis, Louis C.K. and Jonathan Krisel who directed the off-beat “Portlandia.” Hopefully, together these three will be able to turn this ship around because as it currently stands, there doesn’t seem to be much hope of saving this three-ring-circus of a mess.