Although Bryan Cranston has found fame and critical acclaim for his unforgettable role as Walter White on "Breaking Bad," his comedic abilities tend to be overlooked. Anyone who ever saw Cranston on "Malcolm in the Middle" should be able to attest to his ability to make us laugh. He's just a terrific funnyman.
Earlier this year, Cranston took a break from the world of Walter White and he settled into the role of Jack Power in the web series, "The Handlers." Power is an ambitious candidate for state senator who can't seem to open his mouth without committing a major gaffe. Sounds like comedy gold, right?
Well, it could have been if Cranston was the sole focus of the series. Instead, Jack Power plays the straightman to the bumbling political consultants at Rayburn, Saperstein and Butz; which is comprised of Miles (Matt Braunger), Tim (Josh Dean), Sarah (Andrea Cansler) and Goodman (Gary Anthony Williams).
I've never seen these four performers in anything besides "The Handlers," but they are horrible… HORRIBLE! The Handlers themselves are just not funny at all and every time they opened their mouths I found myself wishing that this was a one man show for Cranston.
When "The Handlers" is at least co-written by Cranston and it focuses on Jack Power, the series at least shows glimpses of promise. The best episode by far is the sixth installment which is almost entirely Jack Power mugging for the camera and making himself look ridiculous before the Handlers tell him that he's on a live web feed. Did you ever see the clip of John Edwards primping his hair? Picture that times eleven.
The eighth episode also has some really good laughs as Power's attempts to capitalize on his hometown before he is derailed by his recurring verbal mistakes and an ill-fated meeting with the governor.
Apparently, this web series was based on the French Format "Henaut President," and it is a really solid concept. But the execution is lacking and as I mentioned earlier, it's the other performers who weigh down this show.
Some of the ideas could have worked, like Jack's sudden popularity after repeatedly saying "vagina" by mistake or the way that the Handlers convince Jack to confess to soliciting a prostitute despite his innocent intentions. But a good comedy requires great characters and the assembled supporting cast of this web series don't have enough charisma or chemistry between them to equal even a tenth of Cranston's Jack Power. The Handlers exist only to give Jack bad advice and justify whatever outrageous salary that they're making. The cast seems more interested in making strange faces than in actually creating comedic personas for themselves. Random people taken from a crowded street could have probably given stronger performances than the majority of the cast delivered here.
Even more damningly, we never get a real sense of who Jack Power is, why he wants to be a state senator and why he thinks that he can win. The closest we get are Jack's disappointment when he learns that journalists have to be bribed with smart phones to attend his press conference and Jack's sincere attempt to tell the governor what he thinks of her policies. Jack doesn't seem like a bad guy, we just don't know him that well.
The eight episodes also conclude without any sense of closure for Jack's campaign. It was probably going to be a disaster, but we should have at least seen how it turned out.
Despite the many, many problems with "The Handlers," I would love to see Jack Power again in his own series. Just dump everyone else, they don't deserve to share any screentime with him.
Crave Online Rating: 3 out of 10.