Tuesday, October 14, 2014

REVIEW: 'About a Boy' - Will Searches for the Perfect Bagel While Andy Has Some News for Laurie in 'About a Vasectomy'

NBC's About a Boy - Episode 2.01 "About a Vasectomy"

Will returns to San Francisco to sort out his finances after a surprising royalty check. Andy reveals to him that Laurie might be pregnant and he needs Will's help to find out. Meanwhile, Marcus' new friends don't sit well with Will and he attempts to convince Fiona that the kids are up to no good.

I really appreciated the emotional arc of the first season of About a Boy. Over the course of those first few episodes, they found a decent balance between the comedy and drama of this situation. There isn't a strong romantic intrigue between Will and Fiona. That probably lends itself better to the makeshift family dynamic of the ongoing TV series. By having Marcus in his life, Will has changed as a person. He has grown up a bit. He's able to take life and the people in it a bit more seriously. Sure, it's still awkward a little bit explaining why he cares so much about the personal lives of both Fiona and Marcus. But for the first time in his life, Will has a serious romantic relationship with Dr. Sam. His move to New York at the end of last season was a strong symbolic gesture of him growing up and moving on in a more fulfilled way.

The conclusion last year did feel slightly designed to serve as a series finale in case the show didn't work out - like so many of NBC's comedies do. But surprisingly, the show did catch on fire and it's back for a second season. I appreciate that the show doesn't backpedal that season-ending decision. They are embracing it but not saying that this is the end of Will's journey. He still has further to progress in life. And this premiere pushes that even further by examining his current financial and livelihood situation. He left for New York envisioning this perfect life with Sam. In reality, he's alone a lot of time because she's working and he has no larger purpose in this city. The only thing driving him is the search for the perfect bagel. And that leads to a wonderful opening scene with Rob Reiner. What a surprising and very welcome guest spot.

But Will does return to San Francisco in this premiere as he has to deal with his current financial situation. He gets a royalty check with absolutely nothing. He has grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle and has been living off the checks from hitting one hit song. And now, he may not have that. The only viable option would be to sell his home in San Francisco - meaning he'll be fully committed to his life in New York. And yet, he can't make that commitment because he is unsure. So instead, he sees all these problems in San Francisco to extend his trip so he doesn't have to focus on the other things going on in his life.

So, Will helps Marcus with his new friends/bullies and Andy break the news to Laurie that she may be pregnant again. Both of them are very minor plots. He is putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. He's coming back into these people's worlds and shaking things up just as soon as they got to a good groove without him. The new kids Marcus is hanging out with aren't that very nice but he's hopeful that one day they could see him as someone other than an easy target to ridicule. Marcus is yearning for connection. He has his mom and he has Will. But that's often not enough for a young boy slowly becoming aware of and embracing the world. This was overall a solid episode of About a Boy to come back on even though it doesn't just get back to the status quo as quickly as it can.

Some more thoughts:
  • "About a Vasectomy" was written by Jason Katims and directed by Adam Davidson.
  • Annie Mumolo has also been promoted to a series regular for this season. She is a funny person and I'm hoping this season can develop her past her one-note uptight schtick. But hey, her reaction to realizing she may be pregnant was great as was her getting massaged by Fiona.
  • I love Adrianne Palicki as a romantic interest for Will. She's a lot of fun as Sam. It's great seeing her talk about her work. However, I worry that because her life is so firmly planted in New York she be cut out when Will makes the official move back to San Francisco. And that saddens me.
  • Also, Fiona is becoming a doula - which leads to an awkward reenactment of Marcus' birth. And the subsequent postpartum depression.
  • Andy's impression of Will was weird.