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Andy Barker, P.I. — The Complete Series (DVD Review)

10 Nov, 2009 By: John Latchem

Andy Barker

Street 11/17/09
Shout! Factory
$24.99 two-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Andy Richter, Harve Presnell, Tony Hale, Marshall Manesh, Clea Lewis.

The cluttered landscape of one-season wonders welcomes its latest member, “Andy Barker, P.I.,” a low-key comedy with a few clever jokes that ran for six episodes on NBC over the course of a month in 2007.

The spoof of detective fiction was co-created by Conan O’Brien and Jonathan Groff, former head writer for “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” and stars O’Brien’s longtime sidekick, Andy Richter, as the title character.

Andy Barker is just a decent, aww-shucks kind of guy trying to run his own accounting business in a mini-mall. But most people who visit his office are looking for its previous tenant, a hard-nosed private detective named Lew Staziak. In need of money and a little adventure, Barker takes on the cases.

Barker finds help from some of the other tenants of the shopping center: video store clerk Simon (Tony Hale of “Arrested Development), a film buff who relies on his knowledge of old movies; and restaurateur Wally (Marshall Manesh), an Afghan émigré obsessed with Americana and video surveillance.

Also joining the fun is Lew (the late Harve Presnell), who is now a senile detective straight out of pulp noir.

Each of the two discs includes a retrospective featurette, one about the writing process, and the other about the creation and production of the show. The second disc also has a gag reel.

The show will primarily appeal to fans of O’Brien’s style of comedy, which often relies on offbeat humor and juxtaposition.

The series also exists as a minor footnote in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” lore. The victim of the second episode, “Fairway, My Lovely,” runs a company with the same name as a fast food chain seen on “Buffy.” The episode was co-written by longtime “Buffy” writer Jane Espenson, who later joined the writing team for “Battlestar Galactica” and will serve as executive producer of the upcoming “Caprica.”

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