Good to great in places, but too inconsistent to stand out, Vice Principals struggles against itself.
The new HBO/Sky Atlantic comedy show Vice Principals reunites the comedic teaming of Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, This Is The End) and Jody Hill (Eastbound and Down, Observe and Report), as star and director respectively. It marks their return to TV after their popular sports comedy Eastbound and Down, which finished up in 2013. Alongside McBride is Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight) as his counterpart; the pair play two vice principals vying to better each other and ultimately become principal. But as the series attests, the duo must team up to try and achieve their ultimate goal.
The show’s fairly basic premise works well and is properly developed so that the character roles are all clear and defined, much to the benefit of the show and its storytelling. On top of this, the show utilises McBride’s impressive comedic chops, which all largely pay offs despite McBride’s often Marmite reception among fans. However beyond this, there isn’t much special about it. Obviously given their friendship and creative control, McBride and Hill write more than enough material for McBride to sink his teeth into, but Goggins feels seriously underutilised. He’s known to be a tremendous actor but there’s really not much for him to do here, and this is much the same for the episode’s guest star Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day), who just phones it in, knowing that he doesn’t have anything to really do.
There’s a slew of supporting characters, all mainly there to serve for McBride’s comedy, and this is largely just him insulting them – which just feels like lazy writing. Laziness is a good way to describe Vice Principals. It’s an incredibly frustrating show to watch which, though fun at times, struggles so very much for large portions of time; making it good but just not great.
Vice Principals airs every Tuesday on Sky Atlantic.