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‘People of Earth’ review: Effective mix of comedy and heart

New TBS comedy about a support group for people who have been abducted by aliens (Credit: TBS)

COMEDY SERIES “People of Earth”

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday with two episodes, 9 and 9:30 p.m. on TBS


WHAT IT’S ABOUT Aliens. Earth. Separated at birth?

The lives of space invaders look surprisingly similar to our own in this quirky yet sensitive comedy of shared humanity. Nothing is too preposterous to actually seem real — even the notion of aliens already landed on our planet and living here quietly masked as, say, your boss at work.

Sound nuts? Then you can relate to this show’s sharp city reporter Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac, “The Daily Show”), who resents being assigned the “tinfoil hat beat” of a quaint Dutchess County town’s support group for alien abductees.

Make that “experiencers.” They demand Ozzie’s respect. And ours. Sure, their tales of “lizardy” presidents and abduction sex seem bizarre. But they’ve got real lives, and emotional needs, and now rational Ozzie keeps seeing a deer talking to him in the mirror of his motel room, and suddenly their stories don’t seem so far-out after all.

MY SAY How great is it when a simple idea gets such smart execution? From the setup to the incidentals, “People of Earth” is packed with humor and heart forever revealed in clever ways. Which makes sense under executive producer Greg Daniels, who has coaxed more than 500 charming episodes out of a Texas propane-selling family (“King of the Hill”), Scranton paper purveyors (“The Office”) and small-town Indiana (“Parks and Recreation”).

He’s again got actors who know how funny playing it straight can be: group leader Ana Gasteyer (“SNL”), toll collector Luka Jones (“Up All Night”), factory manager Brian Huskey (“Veep”), lovelorn young Alice Wetterlund (“Silicon Valley”), haunted housewife Tracee Chimo (“Orange Is the New Black”), needy priest Oscar Nuñez (“The Office”), and others whose stories are yet to be fleshed out.

TBS believes, re-airing episodes Monday/Tuesday at midnight, plus Wednesday 7-8 p.m. and Thursday 3-4 p.m.

BOTTOM LINE Initially silly, then sublime comedy explores meaning and connection. Even aliens are only human.


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