NEW YORK (OSV News) — More than a few beleaguered employees may have been tempted to regard their boss as the devil incarnate from time to time. Two of the three main characters in the dark comedy series “The Consultant,” however, have better reason than most for harboring such an idea.
All eight roughly half-hour episodes of showrunner Tony Basgallop’s adaptation of Bentley Little’s novel are currently streaming on Amazon Prime. While the series, produced in collaboration with MGM Television, initially elicits some interest and evokes some suspense, it involves elements of dialogue and depiction that will prove too sordid even for most grown-ups.
Following the violent and bizarre death of its Korean-born whiz-kid CEO, Sang (Brian Yoon), the future of mobile gaming company CompWare appears bleak. That’s bad news for the deceased executive’s administrative assistant, Elaine (Brittany O’Grady), as well as for her friend and colleague, aspiring designer Craig (Nat Wolff).
But things take an unexpected turn with the out-of-the-blue arrival at corporate headquarters of self-described consultant Regus Patoff (Christoph Waltz). Claiming Sang hired him secretly to control any and all matters connected to CompWare’s welfare, Patoff takes the conglomerate’s helm firmly in grasp, firing some staff members and promoting others.
Since Patoff is as eccentric as he is mysterious, he immediately arouses Elaine and Craig’s suspicions and they set out to investigate him clandestinely. Yet their partnership is threatened when Patoff later shows interest in a game Craig has created and begins to co-opt him.
Viewers curious to see where all this goes — beyond the first three installments reviewed — will have to prepare themselves in the meantime for frequent coarse language, frivolously treated drug use, fleeting rear nudity and the brief but explicit portrayal of an aberrant sexual interaction. They’ll also encounter weirdly garbled references to Catholicism by way of a subplot.
When Patoff inquires into his potential protege’s personal life, Craig informs him that, in order to marry his Catholic fiancee, Patti (Aimee Carrero), with whom he’s cohabiting, he will have to convert. He intends to do so despite the fact that he has no particular religious beliefs of any kind. He also refers to his forthcoming education in the faith as “brainwashing.”
The obligation with which Craig imagines himself to be burdened in this regard is, of course, wildly out of date — and would not have been strictly accurate even before the Second Vatican Council. But this anomaly may simply serve as a means of introducing a priest into the mix who may then recognize the demonic nature of Craig’s boss, something already implied in the script.
Despite Waltz’s considerable gifts, brought to bear here in the portrayal of a figure who is at once a commanding presence and an odd duck, the program’s far-fetched premise never really becomes convincing. Nor does the occasional, half-baked attempt to reflect on the potentially negative cultural influence of violent videogames add much weight to the proceedings.
Thus TV fans may come away from this gritty fantasy feeling — unlike many a real-life consultant — under compensated.
John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.