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'Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television' Is Incredibly Dumb, But Also Amazing

By Dustin Rowles | Streaming | December 21, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Streaming | December 21, 2018 |


Those of you who wade into the comments section from time to time may notice that our commenters periodically will find a great pun opportunity and run with it, extending the puns into 50-60 comments or more. I hate it. But I also secretly love it. It is literally one of my favorite things, and I could read those pun threads for hours, laughing and groaning, and sometimes both simultaneously.

That’s Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television in a nutshell. The trailer for season two came out earlier this week, and I realized that I had not seen season one, so I decided to sample an episode while making dinner last night, which is obviously the best way to watch an episode of television on YouTube Red (which has been rebranded as “YouTube Premium” and its original programming is free with YouTube TV, hands down the best streaming cable service). One episode turned into two, and four hours later, I’d finished the entire 8-episode first season and found myself sitting in a puddle of disappointment because the second season doesn’t air until January 30th.

The premise of Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television is kind of like Castle, only instead of pairing a famous crime novelist with a detective, the series pairs Ryan Hansen with a detective (played by Orange is the New Black’s Samira Wiley in the first season). Hansen plays himself, a pseudo recognizable comedic sidekick from canceled-too-soon shows like Party Down and Veronica Mars with small but passionate followings. The series calls itself a “meta-comedy about showbiz,” and it is, but first and foremost, it’s a meta-comedy about Ryan Hansen, who is surprisingly ripe for parody and self-deprecation (he’s got a lot more credits than you might think, which makes possible jokes about starring in Bad Teacher, Bad Judge and Bad Santa 2, plus another direct-to-VOD fare and, of course, Jem and the Holograms).

The internet show, from creator Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, Central Intelligence), has a sense of humor that can probably be best described as a cross between Angie Tribeca and Psych — it riffs on pop culture, but the jokes are broad, and dumb, and hilarious. Ryan Hansen, however, is not the only source of parody — the cameos are outstanding, and while they are not “A-list,” they feel “A-list” to a certain subset of the television-watching demographic: Kristen Bell plays a hilariously narcissistic, foul-mouthed version of herself; Joel McHale plays … Ryan Hansen in an episode in which Ryan Hansen is recast with Joel McHale, and my favorite cameo is Donald Faison, who plays a tyrannical diva version of himself living it up on Scrubs residuals and torturing his assistant. Jon Cryer is also in this, and I won’t spoil his role in the series except to say that all will be explained.

In fact, Cryer appears at the end of each episode in the multi-cam laugh track segment, because Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television also plays with format, beginning each episode with a selfie-style intro filmed with an iPhone and ending each episode as a family sitcom. Along the way, it makes fun of Hollywood, of police procedurals, actors, writers, day players, and directors, but in a goofy Ryan Hansen kind of way, which means laughing at some of the jokes and groan-laughing at the others. Every episode also has an older, recognizable black actor playing Captain Jackson, the yelling “get out of my office” trope, and is spectacular (and while I am disappointed Thurber won’t extend this running gag into season two, I’m thrilled to see that he’s replaced the rotating Captain Jacksons with Jessica St. Clair).

Is Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television worth spending $9.99 a month to subscribe to YouTube Premium? Oh god, no! Is it worth subscribing to YouTube Premium for one month to watch both seasons of Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television and Cobra Kai and then canceling? Absolutely. For sure! (But also, if you’re looking to try out a new streaming cable service in the New Year, I really can’t recommend YouTube TV enough, and YouTube Premium is free along with it). I’m also more excited than I probably should be that Avon Barksdale will be playing Hansen’s partner in season two.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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