Other important elements of the series are devoted to Nathan de Helms. To Helms’ credit, for the most part, he puts a friendly face on white privilege, while his general naivety plays out as an extension of his idiot, despite its serious connotations. The character doesn’t read well on paper, which does justice to the show’s slightly serious tone that it’s not too boring; Helms is one of the best in the business to play someone who is so, so close to ‘getting it’, and yet he doesn’t (he does similar work in this week’s ‘Together Together’, in as a man who befriends the surrogate who will give birth to his child). Nathan’s sincere empathy for others creates an interesting tension with his degree of denial, especially regarding his family’s role as colonizers. But there are times the series leans too easily into the generic Helms style, making its character-focused moments generally predictable.
The show’s standout performance is by Michael Greyeyes, who plays a casino owner Reagan calls a shark. Greyeyes knows how to make his character Terry so tempting, so accessible, so larger than life. Greyeyes gives the most fascinating performance here, as someone who shows how good he can be with his position of power, running a casino with native employees and board members that is very focused on white workers. Greyeyes’ changes in behavior, depending on what he can get out of the person he’s talking to, are both visible and subtle enough to suggest an astonishing sense of control and self-awareness. The fourth episode of the series offers a more in-depth look at this character and his bitter capitalist backstory, but it also shows how his roles as father and husband can create levity, and that he also fits into this. story as awkward and bossy. dad trying to pressure his daughter to make money with her pearls. Greyeyes delivers the kind of performance that could direct and support his own complex series, and that could be a sitcom or something like “Breaking Bad”.
Apart from these three, the spectacle does not yet have the cumulative force that makes a “Parks and Recreation” type set work. Part of that has to do with how the show develops four more episodes and finding the most watchable characters. (I hope more of the two casino workers who aren’t impressed with Reagan, and smarter jokes for Jessie Leigh’s Bobbie, Nathan’s assistant.) But the jokes that are at stake here aren’t that effective, whether it’s Nathan’s naivety or Reagan’s intensity, or some ad lib pop culture joke (“Cloud Atlas”, The Avengers, and even “Parasite” are all light moans) . The humor leaves a noticeable gap between the show’s more thoughtful passages, and its lack of creativity flattens the episode arcs that add characters to inspire Reagan or Nathan to see the extreme potential of their goals. Paul F. Tompkins, for example, enjoys his role as a non-PC Rutherford historian with a drinking problem, but the jokes read like too easy. While the main chase storyline barely expands over four episodes, the comedy doesn’t give enough momentum in its place.
But as any fan will tell you, “Parks and Recreation” didn’t really take off, or find its comedic voice, until about a season. I suspect this could very well be the case with “Rutherford Falls”. has a lot more to prove on its own, but it has compelling leads and the promise of a solid premise, which connects you with a needed wake-up call.
Four episodes reviewed for review. “Rutherford Falls” will air on Peacock on April 22.