TV review: "Portlandia" return should please fans

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

First things first, I’ve never been a huge fan of “Portlandia.” And even as the series enters its fifth season — with devout fandom and critical acclaim — I still don’t get excited about “Portlandia.” That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the writing and acting skill presented by co-creators/stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen.

I often find things in “Portlandia” funny, sometimes even laugh-out-loud so, but it’s never been my brand of television. With that said, I enjoyed — more than I normally do — the first two episodes of Season 5.

The premiere is clearly an episode for longtime, avid viewers of the show as it focuses solely on two of “Portlandia’s” most memorable characters, the eccentric book store owners Toni (Brownstein) and Candace (Armisen). The episode is the origin story of the two literature purveyors, and it’s an interesting origin to say the least. The narrative makes full use of the 1991 setting, and gives you a perspective on Toni and Candace you probably never expected.

I like “Portlandia’s” approach with the premiere; presenting a ridiculous story to a local reporter looking to write a simple piece about the book store. And the second episode feels similar to the first in terms of its structure, while involving completely different characters — including a very funny guest appearance by Justin Long.

I doubt I’ll ever become addicted to “Portlandia” in the way many viewers have, but I can’t fault those who have affinity for the series. It’s similar to how I feel about HBO’s “Veep” — although I find “Veep” much better — in that it’s a very good show that just misses on a personal level.

I think those who’re fans of “Portlandia” will be more than happy with the early episodes of Season 5, and those who haven’t seen the show in a while might also be pleased. I guess to put it simply, “Portlandia” isn’t a taste for everyone, but surely has its merits.

[photo courtesy of IFC]


10 p.m. Thursday on IFC

2.5 stars