Tag Archive: Dispatches from Elsewhere


Dispatches from Elsewhere Lindley Segel

Review by C.J. Bunce

For anyone still in withdrawals and languishing from the news that AMC’s Lodge 49 did not get renewed for a third season, a new show premiering this week may help fill the void.  It also hails from AMC, and carries over many of the same themes as that drama/comedy masked as fantasy about a group of people stuck in a similar place in their lives who find that spark of magic to get them back on track.  It’s writer/director/star Jason Segel’s Dispatches from Elsewherethe first two episodes are now available on AMC and at AMC’s website, with new episodes airing each Monday night at 9 p.m. Central.

Depending on your perspective, your tolerance of the unusual, and your openness to new things, like the four lead characters on the screen, you may think the series is about a game, a hoax, a conspiracy, or something very real.  Dispatches on Elsewhere is a ten-episode limited series that challenges its characters (and the viewers at home) to examine their own lives.  Our on-screen heroes each have their own personal issues–at the core is the average person dealing with the monotony of the daily grind, with the first four episodes spotlighting each member of an unusual assemblage.  Not so self-indulgent like dramas with a similar off-center sort of production design and story like Legion or [insert any Charlie Kaufman screenplay here], the show searches out the honesty of lost and lonely souls at work on the street corner or at home, all searching for more meaning from their lives.

nonchlance

Writer/director Jason Segel plays a near extension of his character in How I Met Your Mother named Peter, this time he’s single, living in an apartment in Philadelphia, disengaged from everything, and embarrassed of the boring nature of his data assembly job in the music industry.  But he brings to the table a vivid imagination, working out in his head (and brought to the TV screen for viewers) those things he ponders, beginning with his reactions to a string of flyers taped to street posts.  On a whim he pursues one of the brochures, calling a number he tears from the bottom.  This leads him to the beginning of his journey with this strange Jejune Institute–the exact place for someone who doesn’t think he’s special.  He meets a transgendered woman named Simone, played by Eve Lindley, whose endearing enthusiasm is simply stellar, especially in the Simone-focused second episode (consider this series her breakout role).  Her imagination finds her carrying out a conversation with a painting of a woman in a museum.  She becomes his partner, and the team expands to include a kindly older lady played by Oscar-winning actress Sally Field, and an uptight genius played by André Benjamin.

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You’ve all been selected as Agents of Nonchalance.

With its critically acclaimed series Lodge 49, which starred Wyatt Russell, Brent Jennings, and Sonya Cassidy, apparently canceled after only two series, the cable network AMC looked to fill the quirky drama niche it left behind.  It found Jason Segel′s quirky dramedy Dispatches from Elsewhere, releasing its first trailer this week.  This is labeled an anthology series, which typically means individual stories in each episode and different characters, yet it lists its five leads in all ten episodes.  So what’s going on here?  It’s an anthology to the extent that the series gets renewed–meaning you’ll likely only see the billed cast of characters in the first season, with a new story and characters in subsequent seasons.  It’s billed as “a transcendental series about a group of ordinary people who stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life.”  That describes Lodge 49 perfectly, too, right?

Dispatches from Elsewhere has similar bits going for it compared to AMC’s departed Lodge 49.  It looks like it was filmed on the same paneled set and it, too, features a directionless guy lost in his own world, detached from a meaningful existence, with How I Met Your Mother and The Muppets co-star Segel in that role (along with serving as show creator, director, and producer).  And like Lodge 49, with its street cred of actors like Paul Giamatti, Bruce Campbell, Cheech Marin, Bronson Pinchot, and Brian Doyle-Murray, Dispatches from Elsewhere has its own style of actor cred, co-starring Academy Award winner Sally Field, Academy Award nominee (Doctor Who star, new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker villain) Richard E. Grant, and Grammy-winning musician André BenjaminMr. Robot’s Eve Lindley rounds out the main cast.

It looks strange in the vein of Lodge 49, Mr. Robot, Russian Doll, or Legion.  But is it the good kind of strange?  See what you think.  Here’s the first trailer for Dispatches from Elsewhere:

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