“Bettendorf Talks” (2024) [SXSW]

“Bettendorf Talks”

by Joseph Perry 

Normally here at “The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict”, both Joseph and Mike give their thoughts on a slice of cinema. However, here and there they will be taking the reins in a solo outing. For this installment, Joseph reviews the television pilot Bettendorf Talks, from David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski, and Bright Iris Film Co.

From the official press announcement: A sharp and smart show-within-a-show, Bettendorf Talks is both a witty workplace comedy and the newest (and most unlikely) local talk show to come out of the titular Midwestern Quad City. Hosted by the has-been comedy duo T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi (who star as hilarious caricatures of themselves), the two attempt to mount a hit show in search of a sliver of their former glory.

The Good
I’ve always been a big fan of talk show satires, parodies, and sitcoms, from Fernwood 2 Night and America 2 Night to The Larry Sanders Show. The latest in this genre of TV is Bettendorf Talks, created by and starring improv comedians T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi. The pilot episode is a lot of fun, with Pasquesi playing a surly falling-star talk show host trying to regain some of his former glory by working in a smaller-area market and wanting to be anywhere but there, and Jagodowski as his naïve co-host who seems happy to be working anywhere. The members of the ensemble cast, which includes Tim Kazurinksy as a TV station owner, all invest their characters with a likable charm — even the curmudgeonly Pasquesi is someone viewers can get behind.  

The Bad
I don’t really have any quibbles in this department, as the pilot sets up the situation and power dynamics of its characters well. 

The Verdict
I’d love to see more of these characters, so I’m rooting for this pilot to be picked up and expanded into a series. Fans of satirical talk shows and workplace sitcoms should find plenty to enjoy with Bettendorf Talks.

Bettendorf Talks
, from Bright Iris Film Co., is an official selection of SXSW’s Independent TV Pilot Program. SXSW runs in Austin, Texas from March 8–16, 2024. 

Bettendorf Talks
Directed By: Jack C. Newell
Written By: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski
Starring: David Pasquesi, T.J. Jagodowski,  Sadieh Rifai, Emma Pope, Nnamdi Ngwe, Tim Kazurinksy, Ike Reilly, Brian King, Cassie Kramer
Run Time: 1h 33m
Rating: NR 
Release Date: March 10, 2024 (SXSW premiere)