If dying is easy and comedy is hard, then the Zach Galifianakis-starring Baskets is truly a workout – in the best way. While a slow burn at first, FX’s sometimes intentionally annoyingly awkward, sometimes disarmingly laugh-out loud shrewd, and almost always very smart series from Galifianakis, Louis C.K. and Jonathan Krisell is worth committing to for multiple payoffs when it premieres January 21. As my video review above says, Baskets really takes the bull by the horns once you get a few episodes in.

deadline-review-badge-dominic-pattenHaving flunked out of clown school in Paris and now back in Bakersfield, CA being pummeled at the local rodeo, Galifianakis’ utterly clueless Chip Baskets is a failed would-be artist finding new failures daily from life, cowboys, scooters, twin brothers and a disdaining green card-seeking French wife. If this sounds like the kind of performance Galifianakis has perfected in the likes of The Hangover franchise, his Between Two Ferns show and Due Date, it is — but taken up a notch. After that, a strong supporting cast in Martha Kelly and an amazing Louie Anderson rapidly elevates the 10-episode series, the first project under FX Productions’ overall deal with Louis C.K. and his Pig Newton production company.

Anderson, the former Family Feud host and journeyman comedian, plays Chip’s Costco-addicted and merciless mother Christine. And it is a role that fits as well as the wigs and outfits he wears, seriously. Almost always eating and extolling the deals and virtues of Mall Culture, Christine is a women in overbearing denial who reinvents her world and her family’s every past grimace and pitfall. Hell, she adopted new twins after her biological twins didn’t give her enough to brag about.

You’ll cringe at the all the right times with Baskets, but you will also laugh and laugh as the series sneaks up on you. That’s TV waiting for and TV worth leaping into.

So, get in the ring and check out my video review of Baskets. Will you be tuning in on Thursday?