With a significant other or close friend or blood relative, you probably completed Search Party around Thanksgiving and then completed it again. You popped in and out of the living room during TBS’ marathon, snacking on leftover advent chocolate between swoops into the living room.
For those of us who are still dismayed at the possibility that the show would not continue into a second season, we were relieved when TBS announced the renewal of all its current programming, which restarted the whole cycle from beginning to end once again.
In the meantime, we don’t know when the second season of Search Party will be released, and that could lead to a dramatic change of direction for the show, given the current situation Dory and her friends are in.
Here are ten more comedy-mysteries (excluding straight genre parodies, we’re looking more at movies, TV shows, and the odd book that mirror or otherwise anticipate Search Party as a comedy-noir) to satisfy your craving.
1. Bored to Death
Jonathan Ames’ HBO comedy, Search Party’s most obvious televisual antecedent, is this massively underappreciated show. After a bad breakup, Ames begins moonlighting as an unlicensed private investigator. Jason Schwartzman portrays Ames himself (or some version thereof). With Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and Ted Danson (who plays his wealthy benefactor/employer) both entangled in the increasingly perilous proceedings, this is arguably Ted Danson’s best role. Search Party’s hijinks are more ridiculous, the structure is more episodic, and the overall tone is lighter, but if you’re looking for more Brooklyn-based mysteries starring completely unqualified detectives, you should start with this one.
2. Manhattan Murder Mystery/Wild Canaries
And then you’ll be able to live here! In this 1994 comedy, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton play a couple who begin to suspect their neighbor (Jerry Adler) of murdering his wife. Alan Alda’s supporting role is excellent, but the film suffers from an overabundance of Allen-ness. Wild Canaries, a 2014 independent film by Lawrence Michael Levine (Gabi on the Roof in July), improves on its premise and execution by moving the action to Brooklyn and adding more overt comedy elements. As a Search Party-like film, Wild Canaries features Alia Shawkat in the role of Levine and Sophia Takal, who investigate the death of their elderly neighbor, and it’s excellent. Enjoy the Drew/Dory-like chemistry between the two main characters.
3. Andy Barker, P.I.
He may be the most underappreciated person in entertainment. In return for his years of service to Team Conan, you’d think we should give him a hit sitcom. His bad luck in that department is unmatched in history. Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Quintuplets both lasted two seasons, but Andy Barker, P.I. was canceled by NBC after just four episodes and only aired two more before being cancelled. Sadly, this show had charm to spare, which is a shame. Ricker also found his everyman hero in Andy Barker, an accountant who was mistaken for the P.I. who had previously used his office.
4. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black had a resurgence in this 2005 cult classic, which tells the story of a petty criminal who stumbles into an audition for a crime film, where he meets “Gay” Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer). While Search Party’s plot is a little wittier on the whole, there are still plenty of twists and turns to be had in the third act. Its wackier elements are balanced out by the loose, unscripted comedy that fans will appreciate.
5. Get Shorty
One of crime-comedy king Elmore Leonard’s latest hard-boiled Hollywood parodies. Even though both the 1990 novel and its 1995 film adaptation starring John Travolta are quite good, they embody one of Leonard’s central theses: we are all naive fools who are in over our heads. My interpretation of the Search Party’s position is that it agrees with me. Hopefully, Epix’s TV adaptation of Chili Palmer’s story will stick to its strengths as it moves to a long-form medium.
6. Burn After Reading
Fans of Coen Brothers films are split on this one, but as far as tales of dissatisfied, everyday people who get sucked into an episode of completely unnecessary intrigue, it’s one of the best. Personal trainers Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand mistakenly believe that recordings of a CIA analyst’s meaningless rants are official government information when the analyst (John Malkovich) quits his job to write his memoirs. What follows is a series of events that only get more complicated from there. Fans of Search Party will enjoy the comedy that is derived from the absurdity of the entire adventure in Burn After Reading, even if it is a bit light for a Coens film. Fans of unexpected head trauma will also be pleased.
Despite the fact that we’ve already given Terriers some love here at Paste, the band is still eligible for this list. As a P.I., Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) must rely on his ingenuity and a healthy dose of luck to get the job done. When a man asks Hank for proof that his wife has been unfaithful, it’s not out of jealousy, but because that’s the only way he can get out of his situation. Hank’s plan to collect his reward backfires spectacularly when he discovers that his wife is a total liar.
8. Veronica Mars
There is no doubt that Veronica Mars (Kristin Bell) is more adept than Dory at determining which cases need to be solved, but both are just as tenacious, even when it gets them into trouble. While Search Party focuses on young people today, Veronica Mars predates the current hipster stereotype by several years, making it a very different kind of show than Search Party. As a result, there’s a slew of similarities between the show’s 2014 feature-length follow-up and its school-reunion storyline (and Ryan Hansen’s Dick Casablancas is a real treat for fans of Dory and her buffoonish Scooby Gang).
9. His Girl Friday
“Plucky” was the word my Dad used to describe Dory as she climbed the stairs to Chantal’s room, using the light from her iPhone to search for clues. As a former reporter, “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell), she’s one of the most daring film stars of all time, especially when she’s teamed up with her ex-husband to track down an escaped convict (Cary Grant). “Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory! Dory!”
10. The Rockford Files
In terms of what we’ve come to expect from TV detectives, Jim Rockford and Columbo set a high bar. Rockford was living in a dilapidated mobile home in a parking lot that also served as his office, and he was just one bad break away from becoming homeless. A low-cost, second-hand investigator, he avoided conflict and cases that were too difficult for him. As the “people’s detective,” he set the bar high for most amateur sleuths on this list by exploiting his low social status to his advantage. And if he ever found himself in a sticky situation, he’d have a few witty one-liners ready.