Netflix UK TV review: Pacific Heat
James R | On 03, Dec 2016
Pacific Heat is an adult animated comedy. A bit like Archer. It’s about a covert team of special agents. A bit like Archer. And it’s only available in the UK on Netflix. A bit like Archer. The streaming giant’s approach to acquiring and commissioning content is known for being driven, in part, by algorithms. In the case of Pacific Heat, originally shown in Australia on The Comedy Channel, it mostly seems like Netflix looked at how popular Archer is and decided yeah, let’s have something a bit like that.
And so, on the surface, we immediately dive into a strange mirror world of FX’s brilliantly depraved cartoon, one of weekly missions against perilous foes, idiots brandishing lethal weapons and a constant stream of one-liners.
Creator Santo Cilauro clearly went to the Naked Gun school of humour and, while he may not have graduated with top marks, he excels at sheer gag rate alone; the jokes simply don’t stop being thrown at the screen, with every conversation descending into corrections, contradictions and rapid confusion. That’s mostly courtesy of Zac (Cilauro himself), who doesn’t understand much of anything, something that’s maddening for Maddie Riggs (Rebecca Massey). Keeping the mission on track, meanwhile, is Todd Summerville (co-creator Rob Sitch), who constantly sums up every situation with a dramatic pun that comes straight from your favourite terrible trailer.
It’s almost admirable just how far the cast are happy to take every quip – and when those are out in force, Pacific Heat lands a surprising number of giggles, the kind of giggles that make you pause afterwards and feel mildly ashamed. But as the show goes on, and the novelty value starts to wear off, the shame part gets bigger and the giggles get smaller.
That’s partly because the characters have no substance to back them up; they’re so two-dimensional they could just as easily be called Man 1 and Woman 2. That might not sound like a priority for a comedy based around fast-paced wisecracks, but it’s what has helped keep Archer going for season after season. The shallow nature of the characters extends to their appearance too, which borrows from Archer, but, worse, fails to come up with much style of its own.
But it’s also partly because the show has a nasty streak that keeps bubbling to the surface, from its oft-scantily-clad women to its lazily stereotypical attitude towards foreigners – within the first few episodes, we’ve met a strip club that’s a front for a meth ring, a Chechen terrorist and some torturers in the Southeast Asian jungle, who can’t record video messages with the correct grammar. The rest of the season promises Germans, a trip to Yemen and a voyage to Burma, which suggests that the show isn’t about to change its spots any time soon. The result is an occasionally entertaining but unsatisfying watch. It’s a bit like Archer, yes, but not in the ways that it counts.
Pacific Heat is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.