TV Review: The Righteous Gemstones, Sky Comedy

A wealthy old patriarch runs his family and business, while his feckless offspring hang around jockeying for position and hoping that one day it will all be theirs. No, not another series of Succession but The Righteous Gemstones, in which the money comes from Jesus rather than the media and the action plays out very differently and the comedy plays out much broader.

John Goodman is Eli, the older televangelist and in the first episode. He and his family have just returned from a lucrative session of record-breaking baptisms in China. But once home there is troubale afoot. Son Jesse, played by Eastbound and Down's Danny McBride, who also created Gemstones (with Jody Hill), is being blackmailed over a cocaine-and-hookers dodgy video. It's not just an embarrassing bit of clippage, it is smutty enough to put a dent in the family business.

The drama in the comedy drama comes from Jesse trying to sort out the blackmailers. His method is actually both comic and suprisingly violent and brings the episode to an end. Before then, however, there is far bit of scene-setting as we are introduced to the other family members who are all fairly dubious. There isn't much morality on display as they try and exert their muscle to take over various small churches and expand their already sprawling empire.

Jesse's main rivals are his siblings, his frankly dim brother Kelvin (Adam Devine) and his sister, Judy (Edi Patterson) who seems pretty sharp but doesn't look like the favourite to take over the business purely because she is the wrong gender. But who knows, maybe that's the twist...

The result is a show that certainly has its moments, such as the mass comic baptism that goes soggily wrong. But given subject matter which is ripe for satire, the jokes are pretty low-hanging fruit. Fine, if somewhat cartoonish performances throughout though. The glorious John Goodman is a little bit wasted in this opener, but maybe he will come into his own in later episodes.

The Righteous Gemstones, Sky Comedy, 9pm, Wednesdays from February 5 and NOW TV.

Picture: Sky


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