Thursday, August 13, 2015

REVIEW: 'Review' - Forrest Allegedly & Literally Starts a Fire in 'Falsely Accused/Sleep With Your Teacher/Little Person'

Comedy Central's Review - Episode 2.03 "Falsely Accused/Sleep With You Teacher/Little Person"

Forrest has Josh frame him for a crime, has sex with a high school teacher and experiences the everyday struggles of being a little person.

There are some really strong extended comedy bits at play in "Falsely Accused/Sleep With Your Teacher/Little Person." Things continue to go so wrong for Forrest because of doing this show. That is made abundantly clear in the first and third segments of this episode. But there's also incredible greatness and happiness for him as well. All three segments of this episode work well both individually and together. This show has always known how to structure the various episodes and the season as a whole. This episode bucks the trend established in the first two episodes of the season. Forrest still gets a new girlfriend. But they are still together by the end of the episode. Forrest is still living in his father's house - until his latest review destroys the house along with all those cherished childhood memories and keepsakes in a fire.

Forrest always has an upbeat approach to all of his reviews. AJ doesn't mention once during this episode if he wants to use the veto button. Of course, these three reviews seem innocent enough that they wouldn't require such a thing. And yet, the simple things can often be the most devastating to Forrest and the most comedically rich for the show. Forrest wants to believe that when he asks Josh and his girlfriend to falsely accuse him of a crime that it will be for stealing a piece of fruit or something nonsensical like that. Instead they decide to take things to epic proportions and frame him for setting fire to a sorority house. It's never made abundantly clear whether or not people were inside the house at the time. But that doesn't really matter all that much. Forrest stands accused of arson. It's fantastic seeing him slowly break down the deeper into the legality of the situation he falls. When his dad tells him the police are at the door, he's relieved that Josh and his girlfriend have finally come through on their end of the bargain. He thought it would just be an innocent crime that didn't have the potential to totally ruin his life. Instead he was arrested and forced to stand trial for a violent crime he did not commit.

It was amusing seeing Josh and his girlfriend move the pieces into place for their big scheme. Forrest was absolutely clueless to what they were up to. But the audience had an awareness that something big was about to happen. The subsequent accusation more than met the anticipation. It forced Forrest into a really dark place where he could spend at least the next decade of his life in prison. He was so broken that he eventually ended up on his knees begging the two of them to call off the whole thing. But the show has never allowed him to get out of a situation so easily. Again, it's amusing that he doesn't bring up the veto option at a time where his life could face some substantial consequences.

But it was even more brilliant to see just how much thought Josh and his girlfriend actually put into this crime. Both are humorous characters. They are totally able to sell their belief that Forrest is an evil man to his face and then dance to themselves once they leave his office. The dichotomy between the two elements in that scene was really strong. But it was phenomenal to see that the two always had a way to get Forrest out of this situation. They simply had someone else they could blame for the crime - even though she didn't do it either (though she talked about doing it frequently). It gave Forrest the exact kind of experience he requested. He didn't realize the scope of the review until it was too late. But Josh and his girlfriend figured out a way to keep Forrest employed doing what he has been doing for two seasons now. That was a really smart way to end the bit.

And again, after the trauma of that being falsely accused experience, it was great that Forrest was given a review that allowed things to go his way. The people asking him questions always have fun when it comes to a sexual experience. Asking him "What it's like to sleep with your teacher?" is another variation on that. But the true greatness of this one comes from Forrest completely misunderstanding what it is the person is asking. The teenager, Steven, was asking for the general experience but Forrest took it as specifically as he could. He flew all the way to Iowa to find the teacher Steven mentioned by name and then seduced her. It was an awkward experience where he basically forced himself into her life as a stalker. But miraculously that worked. He was able to prey on her dreams of becoming an actress. He promised her a better life in Hollywood. That plus alcohol led to the two of them jumping into bed together. But the true highlight of this sequence was the two actually running into the kid who asked the question in the first place. It's rare that Forrest gets recognized on the streets even though his show seems to be popular. But this encounter was well-positioned because the audience got to see the reaction to the review from the person who asked for it. His response was a very appropriate freeze-frame on him giving the camera the middle finger.

The episode ends with Forrest welcoming a new girlfriend into his life just in time to start his review of what it's like to be a little person. Of course, the easy way to go about this review would be to have Forrest simply live his life while walking on his knees. That's what he eventually gets to - and it allows for some pretty great sight gags. But all of that is preceded by Forrest trying to enlarge the world him. That led to some great humor that revolved entirely around outrageously enlarged everyday items. Josh walked around on stilts. Forrest sat in a giant chair. He poured his morning coffee into a giant cup. It was great to see just how far the show was willing to go with these humongous objects. Nothing was better than Forrest's dad walking up the stairs and seeing Forrest try to brush his teeth with an enormous toothbrush.

As great and silly as those attempts to do the review were, the true brilliance of this segment came after Forrest truly embraced what he had to do. And that allowed for such phenomenal comedic intelligence. Ahead of his first review of the episode, Forrest notes that he is a man of stature who can't have accusations thrown at him "willy nilly." That leads to a fantastic but brief exchange between Forrest and AJ over who this "willy nilly" is. It's just an expression. Their little back-and-forth was the only thing necessary to make that bit work. But the show took things a whole step further with the final review of the episode. A man actually named William Nilly asks Forrest what it's like to live life as a little person. Forrest willfully accepts the task only for it to spiral out of control once he starts a fire at his dad's house - the crime he was accused of doing in the previous review. Those connections are just so brilliantly deployed here. It establishes this episode as the strongest one of the season so far. And those two reviews in particular went together so well. They were hilarious and just so phenomenal to behold even though the tragedy of Forrest's life and the people around him only continues to get worse.

Some more thoughts:
  • Forrest's reviews are as followed: Being Falsely Accused - One Star; Sleeping With Your Teacher - Five Brightly Shining Stars; and Being a Little Person - Three and a Half Stars.
  • I can't wait for the inevitable scene between Suzanne and Mrs. Greenfield. Why else would Playing House co-stars and real-life best friends Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham both be on the show otherwise?
  • This week's best AJ Gibbs' reaction came after she realized that Forrest misunderstood the teacher request and was going off to sleep with Mrs. Greenfield.
  • AJ: "I think sometimes the best relationships start out in the grossest, most messed up ways."
  • Forrest: "A tremendous sense of accomplishment does not put out fires."