Andy Richter Controls the Universe
was touted as “the funniest new sitcom of the spring” (2002) by TIME magazine and declared by US Magazine to have “scaled new heights.” Set in Chicago, the half hour comedy chronicles the day to day happenings of Andy Richter, an aspiring short story writer working for a large corporation writing “how to” manuals. Andy is constantly thinking about possibilities and how every moment in life could just as easily go another way.
The DVD universe is now a far brighter and happier place with the long-awaited release of this absurdly funny workplace comedy. Andy Richter Controls the Universe
was sadly short-lived, but it has amassed a cult following arguably as devoted as the Arrested Development
crowd. Andy Richter stars as Andy, a Walter Mitty-esque writer who lives the surreal life as a writer of technical manuals for a Chicago conglomerate. Andy is prone to fantasies, daydreams, flashbacks and inspired non-sequitor bits of nonsense, such as wearing a coat stuffed with puppies in a bid for audience acceptance, putting "King of the Penguins" on his list of career goals, or conjuring up the "Broadway version" of a boring office conversation. The lightning in a bottle ensemble puts a fresh spin on stock office characters. Paget Brewster manages to be wonderfully funny while not sacrificing authority as Jessica, Andy's tightly-wound, career-oriented boss ("Coffee should be drinking me"). John Patrick Stewart is Keith, whose Jude Law-like handsomeness affords him all of life's little perks (in one of Andy's reveries, Keith is presented with an envelope full of money from admiring co-workers). Jonathan Slavin is Byron, a socially awkward illustrator who shares Andy's office. Irene Molloy is Wendy, the sweet and lovely new receptionist, whom Andy adores, but who is dating Keith. They are exceedingly likable company. Andy Richter Controls the Universe
deftly skewers corporate culture, as in the episode, "We're All the Same, Only Different," in which Andy must take sensitivity training after making remarks about the Irish that offend a black Irish-American co-worker. But the show really takes flight with its sillier plots, as when cash-strapped Wendy participates in a drug-testing program that lowers her voice to intimidating Demi Moore levels, or when Andy is blackmailed by Jessica's bratty nephew over a Marilu Henner sex tape. "Crazy in Rio" boasts an hilarious guest turn by Conan O'Brien as a deranged executive given to gloves made of cotton candy and duct-tape weddings. A boon for this series' devoted fans are four very funny unaired episodes as well as a retrospective featuring new interviews with all of the core cast members. Andy Richter Controls the Universe
is thrillingly off-center. The original series title was "Anything Can Happen," and in this series, it's true. There is perhaps no better series epitaph than words spoken by Jessica in the Conan episode: "I feel truly privileged to have witnessed whatever that was." --Donald Liebenson