Sprung comes to Amazon Freevee on August 19, 2022 with its first two episodes. Two episodes will debut each week until the hour-long finale on September 16.
From the acclaimed comedy creator Greg Garcia, Sprung follows a convicted criminal determined to turn his life around after serving more than two decades in prison. When he is released unexpectedly from prison due to the pandemic with no place to live and the world on lockdown, Jack shelters-in-place with an unlikely group of former inmates, who band together and use their criminal expertise for good.
Only Greg Garcia, creator of My Name is Earl, could look at the global pandemic and see the opportunity for a comedy series. Whilst many would argue that not enough time has passed, Garcia has seized the opportunity to create a Covid-comedy not dominated by masks and zoom calls.
Sprung, which begins rolling out on Freevee on August 19, instead sets out to be another Garcia-branded comedy in the exact vein of Earl and Raising Hope. It probably helps that two of Sprung‘s leads, Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt, are graduates of previous Garcia series. Their ability to slip in to his offbeat style of comedy helps Sprung to launch more rapidly than if it starred a group of newcomers.
The premise is simple: Jack (Dillahunt) has been serving time for dealing weed in the 90’s until the Covid-19 pandemic strikes. Without warning he is released back in to the world with no idea of the unfolding chaos. Using his last $40 he hitches a ride with Barb (Plimpton), of his cellmate Rooster (Phillip Garcia). They’re joined by Gloria (Shakira Barrera) who just happens to be Jack’s prison girlfriend. Only they’ve never met. They only spoke through the prison telephone aka their toilets and Jack isn’t quite the young man he claimed to be.
The unlikely group soon find themselves navigating a world under siege from Covid. But this being a Garcia comedy things are not quite as depressing as the reality many of us lived through. Jack, our fish-out-of-water, has been behind bars for decades and has a lot to learn about how the world has moved on.
Sprung isn’t without issue, particularly in these early episodes. But the series also has plenty working in its favour. Outside of the charismatic cast, Sprung‘s 9 episodes are majority written and directed by Garcia. His singular vision isn’t distilled through various co-writers and directors. Instead this is his most consistent vision to-date. But there is also an inherent difficulty in making light of the early days of the pandemic. Garcia does take aim at some of the odd advice given to American citizens such as not touching their faces. The dialogue captures the confusion of those early days well, serving as a reminder of just how desperate we were to stay safe.
Lead by Barb, the group begins grifting to stay afloat. Taking advantage of all the online shopping gives the group plenty of opportunity to lift packages from local doorsteps. But as the season progresses the group sets their sights on local senator Paula Tackleberry (Kate Walsh). Giving Sprung a central villain, particularly a political one, helps propel the narrative forwards through the limited-run season. Walsh also seemingly revels in playing the delightfully corrupt senator which is a joy to watch.
Just as it was with Raising Hope and Earl, Sprung is at its most successful when it taps in to the heart of its characters. Whilst their grifting antics provide the most physical comedy, their burgeoning familial bond is what will keep audiences coming back for more. I quickly found myself rooting for Jack and Gloria to get together and for Barb to land on her feet.
It would be remiss of me not to discuss the ridiculous Clare Gillies as Wiggles, Rosster’s on-again-off-again stripper girlfriend. Her presence throughout the season is a huge comic relief. Her dialogue it outlandishly crazy. It wouldn’t work in any setting other than this. It doesn’t border on the absurd, it has taken up permanent residence there.
Long-time Garcia fans will celebrate the glorious conclusion to Sprung. Unlike Earl, which was taken from us early, Sprung is able to revel in its characters relative successes. Giving each a fitting send-off in an hour-long finale which romantically laments the end of the pandemic and these characters’ journeys.
Sprung continues Greg Garcia’s run of comedy hits based on a group of down-on-their-luck individuals. Dillahunt and Plimpton fall easily in to Garcia’s rhythm making the series easily accessible from the outset. Despite a slow start, Sprung is a series well worth your time.