Thursday, September 4, 2014

REVIEW: 'Married' - Russ and Lina Get Nostalgic During a Trip to Their Old Neighborhood in 'The Old Date'

FX's Married - Episode 1.08 "The Old Date"

Russ and Lina have a date night in their old neighborhood. AJ and Bernie take a detour on the way to a gentleman's club.

"The Old Date" is an awkward episode of Married. I can't quite put my finger on the exact problem but it doesn't quite snap together as sharply as a comedic half-hour needs to. The show has been steadily improving over the course of this season. The core marriage now has this really nice back and forth to it that I understand why Russ and Lina got married and why they are still married. The idea in "The Old Date" is a good one. It's just half-baked. It has the potential to tell this rich story of Russ going back to where he started and seeing whether or not the choices he has made in life for his family have paid off. It's the classic situation of the creative career one wants versus the financial stability of a job a family needs. From there, it just breaks off into this very weird tangent highlighted by a weird performance by Ike Barinholtz. It doesn't really give us a good understanding of how we - or Russ and Lina - are suppose to react to his accident or Russ' subsequent attempt to steal the longboard. They simply don't know what to do in this situation. Instead of getting out of it as quickly as possible, the show buckles down on it and just lets it carry the rest of the plot until the end of the episode.

Another reason why the main plot doesn't work is because it didn't have the time to be fleshed out because the action kept cutting to the B-story with AJ and Bernie. As I've said many times before, I really enjoy Brett Gelman as an actor but AJ is such a horrible and disjointed character in the world of Married. He's basically a sociopathic and self-destructive narcissist. That's not inherently a problem. As long as the show has a solid reason why he's that way and makes him funny I can watch it. But the character is largely just flailing around which isn't fun or funny at all. The highlights of this small subplot are the one-liners that keep coming out of Bernie's mouth. He's the redemption for this story.

And yet, AJ is very clearly on a tragic trajectory that will get even more importance over the final few episodes of the season. The character's voice is so different from everyone else on the show. So, he already stands out in a big way. To add on top of that, Married has given him the potentially darkest story of the season in his addiction to sex and drugs in order to get through life. I'm interested in how the payoff will either redeem or destroy the character. But right now, the amount of importance it has received hasn't balanced it in a justifiable way.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Old Date" was written by Daisy Gardner and directed by Huck Botko.
  • Also what the heck was with Barinholtz's hair piece?
  • No Jenny Slate this week either which I'm a tad disappointed by. I'd rather see more of her and Paul Reiser than whatever is going on with AJ.
  • But Bernie dressed in scrubs while the people were celebrating shiva was just a great visual gag. Him offering medical opinions was also a highlight.