I liked Paul better when it was called American Dad. Except I never liked American Dad much either, but it’s pretty sad when what the Pegg-Frost team comes up with is the premise of Roger on American Dad, except Paul isn’t gay. So what if Paul isn’t original? Well it’s also unfunny and that’s a bigger problem.
The first quarter, the whole idea of these two superfans driving around America and encountering an actual alien, is a good one. But where do you go from there? If you’re Pegg and Frost, you drive around encountering the brand of wacky Americans you usually encounter only on Family Guy or the BBC while making some hackneyed points about religion that are third rate Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. What follows plays out like a Saturday Night Live skit written by a fan of Monty Python, it’s not funny or really anything.
In that way, Paul reminds me of Gervais’ The Invention of Lying. Comedy that aims for philosophical statements but isn’t as deep or as funny as it thinks it is. Paul is the first Pegg/Frost collaboration that’s somewhat aimed at an American audience, but also hostile to it. Pegg and Frost could have set this back in England, with a Paul explaining to them what happened to Stonehenge, and they would have been on safer ground.