Andy Samberg co-created the show with Neil Campbell (the two previously collaborated on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), and the writing is well within Samberg’s comedic output with his trio The Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone are executive producers here). Like “Hot Rod” did for delusional stunt people and “Popstar: Never Stop Popping” did for delusional pop stars, this one builds upon the even more absurd, less familiar trope of hot-shot archaeologists. “Digman!” has the bonus of being animated and therefore boundless, and animation production company Titmouse answers to the call for ridiculousness with a blockbuster’s scope with a religious Yeti society, a brief musical number about confetti, and a “Top Gun” parody to best them all.
Samberg’s voice work as Rip Digman is one of the show’s more self-pleasing winks, with Samberg returning to his drawling impression of “National Treasure”’s Nicolas Cage and mixing it with rapid-fire line delivery. For a series with roughly a million jokes per minute, mostly from the dialogue, more of them hit than miss. Take this smart-but-dumb gold nugget from the pilot: “The Holy Grail, the term people use to describe the coolest thing in every other profession, is that thing in archaeology.” He says that while at the lowest point of his life, teaching.
“Digman!” begins in what Samberg’s character considers his glory days. The year is 2011, and Digman is rushing down an erupting volcanic mountain with a new artifact in hand. Soon enough, his wife Bella (Melissa Fumero) and his trusted assistant Zane (Guz Khan) end up breaking from his life in traumatic ways, but not before a joke is made about someone looking forward to seeing “The Artist.” Jump ahead to the present, and Digman is a sloppy obscurity among his dashing, smug peers, or as they are referred to in singular here, as an “Arky.” Jolted from his stupor, Digman begins working again, this time with a new assistant Saltine (Mitra Jouhari), his macho helicopter pilot Swooper (Tim Robinson), unamused secretary Agatha (Dale Soules), and a hyperactive fast loris (as opposed to a slow loris). The latter character becomes a mascot for the show—cute, chaotic, and ravenous for the next bit of action.
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