Monday, 8 October 2012

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday TV Comedies (and Parenthood): From LAST Week

Apparently blogger doesn’t like when you schedule things? And because I’ve been so remiss about actually checking my blog I didn’t realise that this post wasn’t actually published on Saturday morning. Still, late or no I vowed to stay adamant in my semi-regular TV write-ups. Not on EVERYTHING I watch – but most….

I previously covered five of my favourite Sunday shows from last week HERE.

Parenthood: “The Talk”; Season Four, Episode Four 
I swear, when I Jabar overheard the word “nigga” in the recording studio I didn’t know what to expect from this episode. Race relations are a notoriously difficult thing to navigate through and I’d imagine it’s especially difficult to examine in a true fashion on network TV but the resulting poignancy of the arc was so refreshing and so sincere I could do nothing but applaud. As the name implies, the show has always been intent on examining the difficulties which parents face and this episode was about parenting on all fronts. When Dax Shepherd and Joy Bryant sat down on the floor considering what their mixed raced union meant for their child it was a moment of true television goodness and something I wish more shows would work towards. What has always removed Parenthood from the vast majority of shows on the screen (good and bad) was its focus on the most basic elements of family life and then turning it into something not quite revolutionary but something innovatively mounted.
On one hand it’s the excellent writing which the show is always making good use of (Zeek’s bits with the soldier, Sarah trying to help her boss) but the acting in this episode was so much of a standout. I’m slightly, just slightly, annoyed that the cancer will put Kristina in an injudiciously lead arc this season but even I can tell how much a curmudgeon that would make me and I don’t think I’d truly mind because Potter sells ever inclination of her character with outstanding aplomb. The trouble of what to do with Max really moves and the decisions must take is a nice parallel to the decision Joel must take with his son. Parenting is hard, and Parenthood shows that while being excellent television.
Episode Grade: B+/A-  

The Mindy Project: “Hiring and Firing”; Season One, Episode Two
Have I told you how much I love what Mindy Kaling is doing on her new show? For one she’s got Chris Messina on TV regularly – a big plus, she’s doing fun with things with female-driven comedies and the show is so easy and seamless with its humour avoiding the issues you think they’d try to shoehorn in. I’ll admit, I’m still unsure of what I think of Ed Weeks’ Jeremy and I want Anna Camp to get something more significant to do but the belligerent Nurse, the interviews for a new one, the hilarious book-buying gag (complete with that bizarre yogurt search) and the final moments of the episode made for continuous hilarity that never felt forced or unearned. More of this.
Episode Grade: B+  

New Girl: “Fluffer”; Season Two, Episode Three
The end-game of a relationship between Jess and Nick is something that I’m truly disinterested in, but in its best moments this episode mostly sold me on it. Oftentimes I feel as if Johnson is a good actor who’s unable of navigating Nick’s issues into a good performance all the time and this is one of the better attempts. I’m weirdly invested in David Walton’s as Jess’ sex buddy for without trying he seems fun and pliant enough to deal with Jess, although a relationship between the two is not something the show seems headed for. Schmidt’s Romney arc seems shoehorned in at first but leads to fun from Greenfield and an unexpected somewhat emotional payoff with Cece. The less said about Winston, the better. The character still in search of a character.
Episode Grade: B 

Ben and Kate: “Bad Cop / Bad Cop”; Season One, Episode Two
I did not review it on the blog, but the pilot episode for Ben and Kate was my favourite pilot of the season – thus far. The show itself came out of leftfield and I’m so glad Jose reminded me to watch it. The filial bond of the eponymous Ben and Kate is a joy to watch the machinations the adorable Dakota Johnson and the oddly appealing Nat Faxon. The set-up of the series is flimsy enough so that I’m not worried about the longevity of the series and the supporting players (Lucy Punch is ace and Echo Kellum is fun) are great. I’m especially fond of the withering glances of Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Johnson’s daughter who’s an especially game child-performer. This second episode isn’t as continuous a laugh-fest as the pilot but it’s funny with some nice character development beats suggesting a show that’s definitely a keeper.
Episode Grade: B+  

short notes on Glee, Parks and Rec and the return of 30 Rock below the jump....also, my favourite performances of the week and random things to note...

Glee: “The Break Up”; Season Four, Episode Four
Much has been said of this episode – a tentative return to better days for the show? I’ve said before even as Glee dips in quality it will always be the show I HOPE does well because I’m generally fond of its main players, and at its best it’s especially on-point. This isn’t quite Glee at its best – and Ryan Murphy’s claim that this is their best episode amuses me to no end, but it’s on point. The maturity of dealing with these teen-relationships suggests a wisdom which I hope the next string of episodes maintains. I wonder, though, with the end of Santana/Britney will the producers be wise enough to retain the use of Naya Rivera who was a welcome presence this episode? When Glee succeeds so well with these dramatic moments it belies its title and recently reconciling their comedic roots with their dramatic abilities has become something difficult to handle. Take an old episode like “Mash-Up” or “Wheels” which managed to succeed with hilarity whilst retaining poignancy. “The Break-Up” is a good episode but it’s not a funny one and I worry that upon return in order to inject humour, the pathos will be eschewed. Episode
Episode Grade: B+

30 Rock: “The Beginning of the End”; Season Seven, Episode One
I’m not against things coming to their end when necessary but I’m especially sour that 30 Rock is being sent out this final season with only a thirteen episode closer. The show has had a significant resurge of funny last season and it deserves more, but I’ll live. Things are familiar on this journey back and the show, which almost always begins its season modestly, is off to a great capper. Jenna’s wedding issues get only three short scenes but Krakowski is back with the same hilarity that makes this character work even when – especially when – it makes no sense. Putting Kenneth, Hazel and Tracy together made me somewhat suspicious even if I like Hazel generally I prefer her in small doses. The dinner party, though, offers some great gags and the payoff works, for the most part. The Liz/Jack chemistry continues as the mainstay of the series and their rapport will be missed.
Episode Grade: B/B+  

Parks and Recreation: “How a Bill Becomes a Law”; Season Five, Episode Three 
Ummm….where’s Ann? That aside, a typically solid episode notable most for the relationships of twos everyone is – Ben and April and their road trip that wasn’t, Tom and Leslie on her Bill and Andy and Ron helping city hall. We’ve seen all these pairing go through fun stuff together, before, but it’s still amusing watching them forge new-ish ground. The April/Ben is the most arresting mostly because as the most volatile April allows for some great reaction moments from Ben – and Scott is especially adept at that. Leslie’s eternal quest to make government hip continues the series long arc, but also has those nice touches of Tom not being overbearing even if Leslie’s nemesis this episode was especially bizarre. And heeeey Lucy Lawless as a love interest for Ron. Andy is a child, so of course he gets along with children well and the entire lead-up to that scenario ending with Ron in Princess makeup then getting asked out on a date were welcome payoffs.
Episode Grade: B 

Other Things to Note
  • The final number of flashbacks to moments of better times in the relationships (and the show) was risky but seemed like a fluid capper to "The Break-Up".
  • In an episode of seriousness, I loved Jasmine's question to Crosby about what Jabar heard...was it "nigga" or "nigger"? There is a difference.
  • I hope that Danny and Mindy don't become a couple, though....
  • Donna reading "Fifty Shades of Gray" was an easy gag but I still laughed. A lot.
  • Jenna and her dead doves! How I've missed the ridiculous of that woman. I'm always on Jenna's side.
  • Lucy Punch talking about dating older men. Hilarious.

Standout Performances
Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project B+/A- 
Lea Michele in Glee B+ 
Nat Faxon in Ben and Kate B+
Monica Potter in Parenthood B+

Jane Krakowski in 30 Rock B+ 
Nick Offerman in Parks and Recreation B+ 
Dax Shepherd in Parenthood B+ 
Chris Messina in The Mindy Project B+


Squasher88 said...

Hmm, I actually kind of agree with Ryan Murphy. I think it's very close to being Glee's best episode. I also worry about them balancing the comedy and drama. The writers seem to be really struggling with this lately.

dinasztie said...

I can really see 30 Rock continuing to be as great as it was last season (=fantastic). I'm just so looking forward to Jenna's wedding. :D :D I can already hear the earthquake coming. Too bad she won't win an Emmy for this part (let's face it, as fantastic as she is, she won't beat Julie Bowen or Sofia with the pregnancy; I hope I'll be proven wrong).