IFC has found itself a winner with “The Spoils of Babylon,” its “The Thorn Birds”-style spoof miniseries event. Starring Kristen Wiig, Tobey Maguire and Will Ferrell, the new comedy delivers on its crazy promise.
But the new project won’t strike a chord with all of its viewers. From the outset, the entire idea of “The Spoils of Babylon” seems slightly unnecessary. Why choose now to mock the “Rich Man, Poor Mans” of the world with this series? But like with Adult Swim’s “Greatest Event in Television History” sketches, making fun of the past proves perfect for new comedic material.
“The Spoils of Babylon” is produced by Ferrell’s Funny Or Die and clearly has that pedigree on it, as it feels like a fitting companion for “Drunk History.” It also sits well next to IFC’s other scripted efforts like “Portlandia.” But like with those series’ very specific brands of comedy, “Spoils of Babylon” won’t be be the type of comedy that all viewers find funny.
After watching the first two episodes of “The Spoils of Babylon,” it’s clear that Maguire and Wiig thrived at the opportunity to play around with such silly material. The show’s jokes are derived as much from their acting as they are from elements like the fact that both older actors are supposed to be playing teens.
Then there’s Ferrell’s fictional author Eric Jonrosh, who opens and closes each miniseries episode like they’re part of a PBS “Masterpiece” special. Those coming in without some context to the miniseries might be confused, but it’s “The Spoils of Babylon’s” dedication to the little details that makes it such a success. Based on the degree to which the craziness of this project escalates in the first two episodes, we can only imagine where it will end after all six have airs.
“The Spoils of Babylon” premieres Thursday (Jan. 9) at 10 p.m. on IFC.