THE SHOW “Disjointed”
WHEN | WHERE It starts streaming Friday on Netflix
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Ruth (Kathy Bates) runs a legal marijuana dispensary in Southern California, but she’s dreaming of a bigger empire. Enter son Travis (Aaron Moten), straight out of business school and filled with savvy marketing ideas and a few other not so savvy ones — like sponsoring a stoner web series starring Dabby (Betsy Sodaro) and Dank (Chris Redd). Ruth’s store has some colorful employees, including security guard Carter (Tone Bell); assistants Olivia (Elizabeth Alderfer) and Jenny (Elizabeth Ho); and horticulturist Pete (Dougie Baldwin). This 20-episode sitcom was co-created by former “Daily Show” exec producer David Javerbaum and Chuck Lorre.
MY SAY “Disjointed” is, “Disjointed” does. Watch a multicamera sitcom on a family of pot retailers, and don’t expect much in the way of coherence, or much in the way of laughs either. “Disjointed” operates on another plane of altered consciousness, which may begin to explain this genial, harmless misfire. But the more likely culprit is that this particular plane is already strewed with so many other genial, harmless family sitcoms with their own cloying values and feel-good payoffs. That alternate consciousness isn’t the problem, it’s the familiarity.
“Disjointed” is occasionally a couple of shows in one, and balancing both would be hard to pull off even for an accomplished series. First, there’s the story of the family matriarch who can’t recall a day when she wasn’t high, ditto her assorted brood of sellers, growers and enablers. They’re all well-meaning, just not exactly all there. Then there’s the story of Carter, suffering from PTSD after three tours in Iraq, and tangled in his own thoughts. Those are expressed in a series of kaleidoscopic graphic sequences and also happen to be, far and away, the best part of “Disjointed.” They’re so dazzling you begin to hope the entire show could unfold in Carter’s head, except it’s not a place where logic or solace are welcome. At least it beats the alternative.
He’s not the only one with a pot-enhanced fantasy alter ego. Every now and then, “Disjointed” goes avant-garde as it explores the other interior lives in a gesture best interpreted as “Well, we’ve run out of story so let’s now take a non sequitur break for the benefit of the genuinely stoned viewer out there.” Pete’s plants talk to him like he’s a doting parent. (He is.) Jenny has a hidden life as a lounge lizard. Ruth has a guardian angel, naturally a high one. Travis has a bad boy inner rapper longing to upstage the perfect Travis. There’s a bud of a good idea in all of these, but at least in the four episodes offered for review, they don’t go much beyond that bud stage.
Meanwhile, what about Bates in her first starring sitcom role? She’s a great actress, but the material doesn’t even begin to match that extraordinary talent. As Ruth, she’s wasted — literally.
BOTTOM LINE Dopey stoner sitcom.