Park Bench follows Buscemi as he wheels a roving park bench around New York City and holds candid conversations with his actor and comedian friends. This premise is reminiscent of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, which also features a well-known actor as he cruises about town while shooting the bull with famous people. Chris Rock, one of the guest stars in the first episode of Park Bench, even lampshades the series’ similarity to existing shows. “That’s what the world needs, another talk show,” he quips. “Just dying for another talk show.”
In execution, though, Park Bench succeeds in setting itself apart. Buscemi describes it as a talking show, and the first episode mixes in scripted bits with each episode’s central conversation. Particularly welcome is a scene where Buscemi’s brother Michael yells at him for filming a scene with Boardwalk Empire‘s Anthony Laciura while he himself is trying to film a different park bench talk show with Janeane Garofalo. Park Bench was apparently inspired by Buscemi’s role in the web series Unstaged, and it shows in those little moments of scripted levity.
Four episodes have been released thus far, with eight more to come. Park Bench may not have much in common with Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, but they share one important commonality: They will both go as far as their celebrities take them. Park Bench has laid the groundwork for a worthwhile series. It’s up to Buscemi and his guests to do the rest.