‘A.P. Bio’ Moves To Peacock for a Hilariously Dysfunctional Third Season
In the age of streaming we can be thankful it’s easier for some shows to get second chances. “A.P. Bio” premiered on NBC two seasons ago to a loyal fan base but so-so ratings. A few years ago this would have meant permanent death, as has befallen so many promising shows before. But in the currentlandscape of endless content, this mischievous sitcom returns for a third season on NBC’s free streaming service, Peacock. It’s a gift from the TV gods for those who want to binge on its combination of both edgy and light humor.
Picking up right where the last season “left off,” we’re back at the Ohio high school where former Ivy League academic Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) is wallowing away and causing trouble with his class. The antics and adventures Griffin gets into still have the same zany spirit. Helen (Paula Pell) enrolls in school for some kind of odd social experiment, which is a ruse because Griffin just wants to mess with Helen in torturous ways (like glitter-bombing a White House miniature she adores). In another episode Griffin gets hired by a cocky novelist to ghost write his latest book. Griffin knocks out a first draft in 8 hours and of course it stinks. To deliver a better version he gets the class to help him come up with new material, which ultimately results in a whole scheme involving plagiarism. And these are just the first two episodes.
As with the first two seasons, what makes “A.P. Bio” a lot of fun is the cast and the way they deliver absurd material with a straight face. A real standout this season is Patton Oswalt as Principal Ralph Durbin, who has to deal with both Griffin and the rest of the school staff’s dysfunctions. It just takes Helen to disappear for a day for the entire school to fall apart. Slapped together balls of meat are served to the kids for lunch, parents are directed to the wrong student for pick up. A mysterious foe also hacks into Durbin’s email account, deleting precious treasure like emails from his ex-wife, spreading the rumor that he has a “dirty butt” and demanding a permission slip for a field trip. How this crisis resolves itself is one of the season’s best moments of lite humor. The rowdy band of teachers are also back including Stef (Lyric Lewis), Mary (Mary Sohn) and Jean (Michelle Jones), who are like a demented Greek chorus at times. When the dirty butt rumor about Durbin spreads they demand, “Show us! Show us!”
Glenn Howerton is the center of this show however. He always seems to be having some kind of wicked glee playing such a terrible teacher, with lines delivered with that bored, “I’m smarter than you” expression. The students are cast with talent up to his level, which makes the series even more enjoyable. Together they go through a whole slew of genres this season, including a haunted house episode where Griffin tries to record an audition for another school and loses his mind, in another episode he nearly does battle with an errant bird. There are also drug dealers and orders for popcorn makers that go wrong upon delivery. During these misadventures there are great laughs from characters like Heather (Allisyn Snyder), the maniacally loyal student who refers to Griffin as if he were some ship captain, or Anthony (Eddie Leavy) who shows Griffin how to make literal glitter bombs. They are precisely the class Griffin deserves, except maybe the nerdy kid he always picks on with lines made even more vicious in streamingville. This “A.P. Bio” has more F bombs than the first incarnations, no doubt because the showrunners can now bask in more wicked freedom.
“A.P. Bio” has the feel of Peacock’s enfant terrible, a wild child that gets to run around the rest of the service’s catalogue. Oswalt and Howerton help make it great fun again. If you’re not into gags and classroom pranks stay away. If you hated the teacher’s pet, then this sitcom is here like a welcoming bad influence.
“A.P. Bio” season three begins streaming Sept. 3 on Peacock.