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'The Spoils of Babylon' review: Both too much and not enough

Devon Morehouse (Tobey Maguire) in "The Spoils of

Devon Morehouse (Tobey Maguire) in "The Spoils of Babylon" episode 1, "The Foundling." Credit: IFC

COMEDY MINISERIES "The Spoils of Babylon"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Thursday night at 10 on IFC

WHAT IT'S ABOUT It's a miniseries parody of a miniseries that's a knockoff of a Hollywood epic that's actually a Web spoof of a TV event of a literary blockbuster of magnificent pretension.

It is "The Spoils of Babylon," with dude Will Ferrell as an overstuffed Orson Welles-style auteur, presenting his capital-E Event with self-satisfied grandiosity. He is celebrated author Eric Jonrosh. Who doesn't exist. But then neither does "The Spoils of Babylon," as either bestseller or Landmark Television Experience.

What Ferrell hosts in-character here is a very small send-up of the pseudo-majesty of "novels for television," circa 1979. Imagine the sweeping intergenerational soap suds of "The Winds of War" or "The Thorn Birds," mashed into weekly half-hour mockery, featuring the genre's typical larded -- uh, loaded -- cast of melodramatists. Among them: Tobey Maguire as an adopted oil-dynasty heir and Kristen Wiig as his not-blood-sister lady love, with Tim Robbins as their slap-happy patriarch.

They're backed by the production value of a webseries, aimed as its own in-joke. Who needs more than toy-time miniatures and cheezoid effects when you've got Genius at the Helm?

MY SAY The concept's the thing here, made clear by the "Spoils" website and trailers being more amusing than the overarch production they promote. The first two episodes prove as tiresomely pleased-with- themselves as my run-on sentences.

BOTTOM LINE A half-hour is too much of not enough.


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