Vice Principals Season 2 concludes the run for the comedy led by Danny McBride and Walton Goggins. It was always planned as a two season complete series so with no fear of cancellation or studio interference this should be a top notch season in every aspect right?
Let me begin by saying I quite enjoyed the first season. Probably even a little more than Alex did when he reviewed it. Every episode had its moments and left a lot of room to build on the characters. I assume since you are reading this review of Vice Principals Season 2 that you have watched the first season and won’t need to go into those details.
The first three episodes of this season were fantastic and had some of the best jokes and writing of the series. We are fast forwarded a few weeks from the shooting and reconnect with Gamby, who after being shot is nursed back to health by Ray. The interactions between the dysfunctional family dynamic that seemed very present in the first season are seeming fewer and far between. I will admit that Shea Whigham is one of my favorite actors that I never hear anyone talk about. Gamby fighting with Gale and Ray playing peacemaker, are pretty much gone after the first episode.
While Gamby is recuperating, Lee has been made Principal and completely changed over North Jackson High School. No longer are they the Warriors, they have become the Tigers. Besides the moniker, Lee has changed the school to fit his image. Even though he believes himself to be “king” he still needs his loyal subjects so he gets Gamby moving again and has him rejoin as his Vice Principal, along with newly appointed VP Nash.
Most of the season revolves around Neil trying to find his shooter. He shakes down various kids and goes through a gigantic binder of who it could be. There is even a side plot where it could have been Amanda Snodgrass’s new boyfriend Brian (Fisher Stevens) even though he wasn’t even around yet… There was quite a bit of lazy writing throughout the season and by far was the biggest detriment. The whole Brian subplot felt forced and a little contrived. It’s clear why they did it to show the divide between Neil and Amanda, but the execution was off.
While Amanda and Neil are having their difficulties so too are Lee and Christine. The on screen chemistry between the two has always been great. Some of the best jokes of this season come from their banter. However, they too get a random side plot where they go out of town for the funeral of Lee’s father.
This is what I don’t get from the show. The first season had a tight plot that stayed on track throughout. It was probably because of the shared hatred for Dr. Brown and the constant goal of trying to become Principal. With the mysterious shooter, there isn’t that central antagonist for Neil and Lee to rally around. The writers tried playing them against each other, but it didn’t really work because it’s painfully obvious to the audience who the shooter is. I would have loved if they made Ms. Swift or Ray the shooter. It would have made who they chose more of a red herring, but they could have tossed little clues in throughout each episode.
The ending episodes where everyone comes back from their various trips, do become more enjoyable. The predictability does lessen some of the laughs however. Though a lot of the recurring characters got replaced this season, I actually enjoyed most of the additions. Willows the police officer, Nash the new VP, and even Robin Shandrell who Gamby befriended were fun choices to replace the old teachers who are fired in the second episode.
One note on streaming. I know it is the “future” and companies are pushing to go that route. However, I hope that HBO does release a Blu-ray. The special features and commentaries on the first were great. Also and I don’t know whose issue it is but it took me about twice as long to watch episode three due to buffering and stuttering. There was no other problem with my internet connection at the time. On later episodes there was some jaggedness and distortion but that was minimal. I’ll always prefer the physical copy if it is available, though I know home media lovers are becoming less of a priority when it comes to the bigger studios.
Vice Principals Season 2 Final Thoughts: 3/5
I was really excited to see who shot Gamby! The first couple of episodes of Vice Principals Season 2 were hilarious and on point. Unfortunately, it quickly devolved into filler as the season progressed and telegraphed the shooter rather early on. It did certainly pick back up in the end in both laughs and pace, but overall was predictable. I really thought with having a set story and a determinate length for the series everything would be nice and tight. Those of you who liked the first season will want to see the send off, it has its moments but falls short of truly being something special.
Vice Principals Season 2 is available only digitally at the moment. You can find it on Amazon, Vudu, iTunes and many other digital platforms.
Note: This season was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.