Tuesday, October 15, 2013

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Jake Gets Humble; 'New Girl' Asks Who is a Good Person; & 'Trophy Wife' Breaks Two Friends Apart

FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 1.05 The Vulture

FOX's New Girl - Episode 3.05 The Box

ABC's Trophy Wife - Episode 1.04 The Breakup

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Vulture," a detective (Dean Winters) from Special Crimes, takes over Jake's nearly solved murder case and steals his thunder. Over a few drinks, Jake enlists the precinct to get revenge and find the murder weapon before "The Vulture" does. Across town, Capt. Holt and Gina help Terry get re-certified to carry a gun.

This was probably my favorite episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine yet. First of all, it was very funny. Getting a large portion of the ensemble drunk is always a reliable device for hilarity. But none of them acted over-the-top ridiculous. Their capabilities were heighten and that was delightful. And the subplot of Holt and Gina trying to help Terry was hilarious just from Terry Crews' physical performance alone.

But the more promising thing was the development of the Jake Peralta character. He is narcissistic and immature but great at solving crimes. In the hands of Andy Samberg, the role initially comes across as funny instead of unlikable like those details would suggested. And yet, that could not be the totality of that character. He needed to grow and develop as the show progresses. And "The Vulture" was the first proof that there is more to Jake than what the series first indicated. When his case is stolen, he reacts in the classic Jake Peralta way - complaining about it and then doing something foolish. In this case, that meant getting drunk with Amy, Rosa, Charles, Scully and Hitchcock and trying to solve the case before The Vulture could. But when they get caught, something truly great happens - Jake becomes humble and mature. He takes the fall for the entire team. That is wonderful growth for that character. He will always be the immature guy in the squad - as evidence in the tag scene - but moments of heart will keep this show and that character amusing to watch.

New Girl - When Nick inherits some money from his late father, Jess is determined to put the funds to good use and secretly tackle Nick's box of unwanted responsibilities - aka bills. Meanwhile, Schmidt tries to find meaning in life and asks for guidance from Rabbi Feiglin (Jon Lovitz).

"Am I a good person?"

That was the question at the center of "The Box." Most overtly in the Schmidt plot which was quite unbearable. He spends the episode wandering around asking for someone to build him up as a good person after he did a bad thing. And he just went about it in the most annoying and narcissistic ways. Until he gets the confirmation he's wanted from Winston - which just did feel right at all. Schmidt did a terrible thing. I applaud the show for not glazing over that. But they should be using that plot as a way for Schmidt to look at himself and make the changes he needs to make. Right now, it feels like the show is saying this one bad thing Schmidt did is not a part of some larger issue for him.

Nick and Jess are at the point in their relationship where they are making a lot of compromises. They have an attraction to one another but are two totally different people. Nick is an everyman. His reactions to responsibilities, feelings and, especially in this episode, money - have often made him one of the best reasons to watch. And yet, this episode in particular was asking him to change a lot. I like that he called Jess out for all her weird stuff too. However, this season it keeps feeling like Nick is being asked to change for Jess more than the other way around. It's easy to side with Jess in this situation - because it's a common idea that you should pay your bills. But how much are we willing to see Nick change?

Trophy Wife - When Meg stays with Kate and Pete after a break-up, Kate is torn between her friendship and obligations as a wife and step-mom. Meg's criticism of Kate's life causes the long time friends to have a falling out and it's up to Pete to help them work it out. Meanwhile, Warren struggles with the pressures of figuring out his future but gets a glimpse of his true talent when he helps Bert with a Lego project.

Meg is a token of Kate's life before marrying Pete. Back when she could have fun and party all night and sleep most of the day away. When she didn't have plans until midnight the next day. After marrying Pete, Kate's life changed drastically. Kate changed and is slowly gaining more confidence in being a stepmother to Pete's three kids.

"The Breakup" is about these two worlds colliding together. It's an episode that was bound to happen and could likely only happen once and early in a show's life. We've seen before how Trophy Wife can use Natalie Morales in certain situations but this episode but her directly in the main plot - trying to live it up with her fun-loving best friend. And maybe that's why "The Breakup" was the show's funniest episode to date. It never trivialized Meg's problems or made her feel any less human. Sure, Pete looks down at her issues but he still goes to her house to mend the bond between the two.

The main plot is actually pretty good but the subplot with Warren, Jackie and Bert was just kinda there. It wasn't too big and it was pleasant. Just not real noteworthy.

But while I didn't particularly enjoy that as much as the main stuff, I still think Trophy Wife uses every one of its cast extremely well. Every character feels important and gets there chance to be funny. Lately, sitcoms have had problems trying to balance their ensembles (The Mindy Project, Mom, Back in the Game). And yet, Trophy Wife does it with such ease.