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Investigating a new tax-themed TV show

So what if Will Farrell's IRS guy in Stranger Than Fiction was a bit of a box-office disappointment. Maybe since taxes are so personal, as entertainment fodder they're better suited to the small screen.

Andy Richter hopes so. His new show, Andy Barker P.I. is coming to your TV next week.

Andy_barkerrichter_1 Barker's a CPA. He goes where the numbers take him. In this new NBC series, that's to a strip mall where he's trying to get his new accounting business off the ground.

Unfortunately, there aren't many beans to count. So when, shades of Sam Spade, a mysterious woman shows up at his Fair Oaks Plaza office thinking he's the suite's former private eye tenant, Andy is intrigued.

He decides to take the case, tracking down her presumably dead husband, and soon finds his tax and financial planning skills offer an investigative edge. Thus is born a dual TV character career. Richter and executive producer Conan O'Brien, Richter's former Late Night boss, also hope they've created a midseason hit.

Have they? Maybe. But I'm not the best judge of such things. If I like a show, that generally dooms it. Meanwhile, those that I have absolutely no interest in are ginormous hits. Prime example: The hubby and I have never seen one episode of Survivor or American Idol.

I'll give Andy Richter/Barker a shot. The pilot was OK, and I got a kick out of the tax references. Richter has a dumpy charm and the supporting cast has potential.

I'm especially thrilled to see Tony Hale, last seen as mama's boy Buster in the hilariously sly Arrested Development, back on TV. Here he's Simon, manager of the strip mall's video store. Maybe some of Buster's wacky former TV family will show up at Fair Oaks Plaza.

You can judge for yourself next Thursday, March 15, when Andy Barker P.I. premieres. Or, if you've already finished your own 1040 and need the rush of more taxes, you can watch the show's six episodes now online. The previews are courtesy of, fittingly, TurboTax.

Favorite running shtick: References to classic (and not so classic) movies served up by fellow strip mall mate Simon (Hale), who runs the Fair Oaks video store.

Favorite pilot episode line: "Oooh. Tax return. Things just got interesting."


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