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'Intelligence' Review: David Schwimmer's TV comeback with Peacock is a creep-fest trying to pass off as comedy

It's hard to understand why Schwimmer would choose to play Jerry Berstein after he has already played Ross Geller, one of TV's most slammed 'nice guy' from the '90s
Nick Mohammed and David Schwimmer (NBC/Peacock)
Nick Mohammed and David Schwimmer (NBC/Peacock)

Spoilers for 'Intelligence' 

Over the years, sitcoms have fallen prey to wokeness and cancel culture pointing out their flawed humor and the hit 90s sitcom 'FRIENDS' is probably the most marinated in flak and criticism. So, with the ample and rightful amount of criticism shed on David Schwimmer's character Ross Geller for being a sexist, self-pitying snob, why he would opt for the outrageously loud and cocky Jerry Berstein in his grand TV comeback 'Intelligence' is beyond any reason.

Perhaps it was the opportunity to play an ultra American NSA agent written from the perspective of a British comedian that drew Schwimmer into this quirky project. But as far as politically incorrect, dysfunctional bosses go, Schwimmer's Jerry is less Michael Scott from The Office and more Harvey Weinstein. In that, no matter how hard Nick Mohammed tries to isolate the Brit comedy under the low hanging fruit of satire, the six-part series is not just a near close rip off of Netflix's 'Spaceforce' but also a shocking addition to TV slate in the post #MeToo era.

Here's some background first and also the ending spoiled, if you will. Jerry arrives at the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, trying to razzle things up when a very authoritative and dominant boss is already in place. Thus begins a power struggle between Jerry and Christine, whom veteran Sylvestra Le Touzel plays in a manner too crisp and sharp for its counterpart. Among their cyber crime-solving unit is Mohammed's Joseph, a regular guy next door who gets by his good heart more than capabilities; the beyond cool resident hacker Tuva played by Gana Bayarsaikhan; and the nerdiest of nerd, literal oddball Mary (Jane Stanness), who — cue the gasp — turns out to be a mole in the end.

For the longest time, everything is fine. Mohammed, Bayarsaikhan, Stanness and above all, Le Touzel, are brilliant at what they bring to the table. They might be stereotypes beyond the scope of a single dimension but they don't waste time beating around the bush trying to hint at layers there's no point peeling off. It is actually Schwimer's role that most might find disconcerting, and never because of the lack of the actor's personal expertise. Schwimmer, if nothing, did make Ross sound like a decent guy for the longest time until millennials were conscious enough to eviscerate all the character pulled in the name of comedy. So it makes sense that even with a redemption arc flimsier than a polybag, he would put his heart and soul into portraying Jerry to the T. 


It is just the things the character says. Perhaps a sheer mockery of Americans and their humor, or the crude darkness of Brit humor that doesn't quite care for political correctness, but Jerry keeps becoming more and more preposterous every time he opens his mouth. Among the many ridiculous things Jerry says are: "And in short, that’s why I have to sleep completely naked"; "It was very brief... in a premature ejaculation way"; instructing coworkers to "sex things up" when they gather to take photos for their official socials and of course "You wish!" when a female colleague tells him his ways are rubbing off on her.

These are jokes that one would find funny in the '90s, but perhaps that was Mohammed's intention — to highlight how seedy uncle jokes are timeless, no matter how unsolicited and outright offensive they might be. For a half-hour comedy that can be binge-watched within three hours, more than anything else, 'Intelligence' makes one feel glad that it's finally over even though the runtime isn't that dreary.

Perhaps it's better if it is taken in little dosages at a time on a weekly schedule. Maybe people in the UK who watched it on Sky TV are luckier because there's no way one can take a whiny, control freak, sleazy authoritative figure opposing the idea of having sex with women who are his own age. That he manages to have sex with someone as chill as Tuva and cry throughout for an ex-wife who cheated on him with his best friend only makes things more infuriating. 

All six episodes of 'Intelligence' will be available for streaming from July 15 only on Peacock.