When Dispatches from Elsewhere premieres this Sunday, March 1, at 10 p.m. on AMC, viewers worldwide will find out what this city’s neighbors have known since 2019 when its director, writer, and star Jason Segel (along with André Benjamin, Sally Field, and Richard E. Grant) marched throughout Rittenhouse Square, Girard College, South Philly and Fishtown for the sake of coming together by chance (or is it design?): that Segel loves Philly.
Based on a 2013 documentary, The Institute, and an elaborate social experiment played out in San Francisco between 2008 and 2011, Segel’s Dispatches from Elsewhere is a walking tour through a mystery/maze that grows deeper and more complex the longer their strides, and the deeper their inroads. That they chose Philly for filming, and increasingly made the city and everything special about it – from Cheesesteak Vegas to the Welcome to Fishtown mural – more of a character in its continued writing is the true charm of Dispatches from Elsewhere. Yes, it is hard to forget Segel doing his goofball Gothic puppet theater thing in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but, here the actor is so effortlessly charming, you’ll be mesmerized.
In accordance with what many of us witnessed up close and in person (me, mostly either in Rittenhouse Square or Cianfrani Park off Ninth Street late at night) Segel, Field, Benjamin and Eve Lindley, in particular, seem in a state of constant entrancement with everything around them. That such awe and bemusement has something to do with a game, “a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life,” according to notes from AMC, means we’ll have another reason to focus on the network beyond Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead.