‘Bordertown’ review: Hank Azaria series tries, but misses, at satire
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Jan. 3 at 9:30 p.m. on Fox/5
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Bud Buckwald (voiced by Hank Azaria) is a border patrol agent, father of three and next-door neighbor to Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez), a hardworking Mexican immigrant who must put up with Bud’s boorish antics and barely disguised racism. Bud is threatened by the industrious Ernesto, but at least he has a family to offer some counterbalance, including son (Judah Friedlander), geeky daughter (Alex Borstein) and levelheaded wife (also voiced by Borstein).
MY SAY In 2004, “South Park” did a memorable satire on illegal immigrants in which America was overrun by people from the distant future who were escaping an apocalyptic world where jobs were scarce and money tight. They were happy to work for almost nothing in present time so they could send their meager wages back to the future.
“SP” punctured everything from liberal sanctimony to right-wing xenophobia. Whether you thought the episode was funny or not, you probably still had to agree: The points were effectively and efficiently made.
You will quickly and efficiently learn here, however, that’s not the case with “Bordertown” — a Wiffle ball bat across the bridge of the nose that wouldn’t know “satire” from “musical theater” or “funny” from just plain “dull.” Instead, “Bordertown” grinds along with au courant political references — a border wall — and distant inflections of “All in the Family.” Bud’s an Archie Bunker who wants to take back his country, and especially his daughter, who is engaged to Ernesto’s son.
He’s also a lazy Ralph Kramden schemer — or a hapless Wile E. Coyote who has a bomb waiting for him at the end of every chase, and a lesson, too, about the meaning of being a good neighbor and the depravity of being a bigot.
In fact, it’s the pedantry that trips up “Bordertown,” a well (enough) meaning sendup that wants to school Donald Trump and his followers but will bore them — and everyone else — instead.
BOTTOM LINE Satire administered with a Wiffle ball bat. A dull thud, where there should be a sting.