TV Pilot Review: "The Odyssey of the A.O.R." (2019)
Satire is defined as the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues (Oxford English Dictionary). I like that definition, especially in the context of Joshua Burdick’s TV pilot, The Odyssey of the AOR. Truth in advertising is, after all, a reliable direction to go in when you want to show the sheer silliness of the human condition.
A.O.R. stands for Architect of Record. The Odyssey of the AOR (based on the book by Jimmy Chelta) tells the story of Sy Phillis (Jack Luceno; Enemy Mine). Sy has a dream- to build the tallest and grandest building in New York City, to literally redefine the New York skyline. The problem? Sy is a skeevy slumlord from the Outer Burroughs. His reputation is trash (as are his tenants). Still, his dream is all-consuming, and in his own mind he’s a legendary developer. Sy hires renowned “starchitect” Les Ismore (Allen Enlow; The Sopranos) to design the impossible structure. Unfortunately, Les is a crackpot with no practical ability to bring the design to life. What Sy needs is an A.O.R., which he finds in the form of the equally desperate Woody Kisser (David Johnson; Sunset) of Keister Kisser Architects. Woody has just learned he has a terminal illness and his last employees are leaving the firm, so the time to make his mark is now or never.
That aforementioned definition (humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule) is tailor-made for The Odyssey of the AOR. There’s not a whit of seriousness to be had in the 38-minute running time, with Joshua Burdick opting for levity to drive home the idea that all dreams are a little silly until you decide to make them something more.
The characters are pure caricature. Sy is the stereotypical New York slumlord- disheveled, unkempt, and radiating just enough sleaze to prompt the desire to shower. Les is the overblown artist- pretentious, preening, and comically arrogant. Woody is a literal walking heart attack. The vibe, however, is authentic New York City in an old-school way. The frequent use (bordering on overuse) of thought bubbles to express the characters real thoughts and emotions combined with a bevvy of over-the-top performances may be off-putting for those who lack a funny bone, but there’s no denying the small cast’s ability to elevate the material.
There’s a theme at work here: chase that dream before it’s too late. Set against a backdrop of the world’s most outrageous city, The Odyssey of the AOR works almost in spite of itself. I guess sometimes you have to be a little unbelievable to make people take notice. The laughter is almost secondary…except when it catches you off guard.
Sounds like the definition of satire to me.