When I first heard about Working the Engles I immediately knew it would be a great series. Why? Andrea Martin, that’s why. She was just wonderful in the cult TV hit SCTV, and all these years later, she can still bring the goods.
Right from the first scene, Martin is just a riot. She had me laughing out loud right of the gate (How often can you say that about new series?) as her character Ceil struggled to come to terms that her husband passed away and left the family a law-firm drowning in debt. Absolutely dumb founded and overwhelmed by the situation, she manages to drink two glasses of wine at the same time and then goes into a spiel (to Miles the firm’s accountant who broke her the news, played by the always funny Colin Mochrie) on how messed up her adult kids are now. The dysfunction in the family kind of reminds me of Shameless as both series follow a dysfunctional family and every character has their own host of serious issues.
Working the Engles is a fun, fresh and modern series that’s quite refreshing compared to the multi-cam, laugh track ridden sitcoms we’ve seen churned out year after year in the US, and that City and CTV are trying to replicate with their new sitcoms Package Deal and Spun Out, respectively.
The jokes on Working the Engels come out of nowhere and are a bit of a surprise that makes them that much funnier. There’s also a ton of them. You might miss a few the first time around so you might find yourself wanting to watch the show twice to catch them all.
I can’t help comparing this show to SCTV, likely because Andrea Martin is starring, but I think there’s a lot of surreal humour that makes its way into Working the Engels that seem very SCTV-esque.
Like after her character receives the news about the inheritance, she decides to attempt suicide to get insurance money so the kids can pay off the debt, but she abandons the plan within a few seconds only to slip off the roof and injure herself anyway, landing comically on a barbecue. While it may seem done before, they sweeten the joke later in the episode by revealing that the distance of the fall was just a few feet, so if she wanted to kill herself there’d be virtually no chance of her succeeding.
It’s hard to find any faults with the show. The only thing I can think of is that the actor who they casted as Ceil’s kids don’t seem as if they’re related, and their acting is okay, could be a bit better, but that’s really splitting hairs because it’s definitely not anything that bad, there’s far worse out there.
There are one or two similarities to Global’s new drama Remedy as the son of the family is a small-time crook, a degenerate and had some legal issues in the past, a bit like the son of the family on Remedy. Both shows are also stuck in brutal time-slots. In Working the Engles‘ case, it’s that it is up against the brilliant and established Modern Family. That may have been a problem in the US if lets say this was airing on NBC right now in the same time slot, but as Modern Family airs on the struggling City network in Canada, whose ratings are always in the toilet, the Engles will likely do alright.
Working the Engles airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Global