Thursday, September 10, 2015

REVIEW: 'Review' - Forrest Is Asked to Do an Impossible Review in 'Buried Alive/6 Star Review/Public Speaking'

Comedy Central's Review - Episode 2.07 "Buried Alive/6 Star Review/Public Speaking"

Forrest spends 24 hours in a coffin, faces a dilemma when a viewer asks him to rate something with six stars and makes a public speaking appearance.

It's very amusing that a week after spending several months lost at sea Forrest is once again thrown into an incredibly isolating review. He has become so alienated in his life - to the point where he is starting to question his very existence. And yet, he continues to move forward because of the show. That's what's keeping him alive at this moment. It's fantastic to see. His adventures at sea don't have much bearing on his experiences this week. But the events of the past still greatly inform the impact of these reviews and the experiences to him.

Forrest is first asked to be buried alive for the show. An experience that could be terrifying for anyone claustrophobic. It could also be daunting considering he just spent so much time alone with no contact with anyone from the real world. And yet, he approaches the review with enthusiasm. He has a game plan for how to execute the review in the best way possible while still allowing plenty of space for things to go wrong. It's a fantastic segment that actually builds based on boredom and surprising news. Despite being trapped in a box buried underneath the ground, Forrest still has plenty of oxygen, some room to move around, a camera to address and a phone with which to play games and talk to people. It's not a completely pleasant experience but it's as close as it's ever probably going to get.

The buried alive segment is punctuated by two pieces of information Forrest gets while awaiting Josh and his girlfriend to set him free. First, his ex-wife, Suzanne, has decided to get married to baseball player Joe. That's a relationship Forrest created despite his determination to try and win back her love. To learn that that is now becoming even more serious than it was before is crippling and depressing to Forrest when he's in a situation already crippling and depressive. He sees himself no better than anything else buried in the cemetery. He doesn't have the fight within him to return to the world because there's nothing worth living for. The only thing that pulls him out of that state is Josh calling to say that he doesn't remember where Forrest is buried. It's another display of horrible planning on Forrest's part. But it gives him the strength to break free of the box and emerge on the other side of existence. It's a fantastic sequence where Forrest wants to continue to live. But it ends with him being hit on the backside of the head with a shovel because the groundskeeper believes he's a zombie. A joke like that is the perfect way to end the segment and very in keeping with the show's exceptional humor.

But the world Forrest returns to is different from the one before he went underground. The show is still operating like always - with a mix of great reviews that push Forrest's imagination. But Forrest is different. He enjoys the structure that the show brings to his life. Those guidelines are pushed in a phenomenal way in his next review subject. Forrest is asked what it's like to give something a six star review. A task that Forrest initially sees as impossible. If he were to give something six stars, it would completely destroy everything that he has done on the show for two seasons. Then his life really wouldn't have any meaning. He seriously considers using the veto button on this review. It's not something he just doesn't want to do. It's something he doesn't know how he can do. And yet, inspiration does strike. He doesn't waste one of his two vetoes on this - which is a good thing because of how amusing the form becomes as a result.

Forrest has always had a very unique approach to doing these reviews. Everything is filtered through the way he sees the world. How he experiences each task is what determines the rating he issues at the end of each segment. He has caused a lot of pain and destruction to the people around him. But every now and again, he tackles a segment in a truly profound and inspirational way that shows he is capable of being a very smart man. He creates a show-within-the-show concept in order to tackle this six star review. That's just a brilliant comedic setup for this episode. He is tossed softball questions in the hopes that this will actually be very easy to accomplish. He sets the rules for the new shows "Assess" and "Evaluate" so that it would be easy for an activity to get six stars. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean things come easy for Forrest.

Forrest enjoys eating the best ice cream in town. It's one of the best and most enjoyable experiences he has had on the show so far. It definitely would earn six stars. And yet, he ruins all of it because he accidentally spills a little on his shirt. That keeps him from achieving the goal of the review. So he has to tweak the concept further - with six stars being the only option he can give. However, that means even a horrifying and painful experience can get six stars. No matter what happens to Forrest he has to give it six stars. That sets things up perfectly for the next review - getting kicked in the balls. A concept that Forrest unfortunately takes very literally. AJ kicks him with a passion quickly only for him to realize he only got kicked in one ball. That set up the need for AJ to do it again. Repetition is always a good comic device. Here, it makes the entire sequence so much better. Forrest had to give six stars for that segment. But actually reviewing giving six stars, he only gave it one star and that was completely because of his luck at getting a review that came at his expense.

And lastly, Forrest is tasked with giving a public speech - a rather unfortunate review given Suzanne's pending nuptials. Forrest fully believes that since Suzanne called to tell him she was getting married to Joe that meant he was actually invited to it. He is the ex-husband. He doesn't belong there. And yet, he pops up anyway trying to fulfill the promise he made to Suzanne's father back during their own wedding. It's a great tape that features the return of Fred Willard as Jack and his belief that people will soon live in space. Remembering the past is what fuels Forrest's desire to give a good and nice speech during the rehearsal dinner not the vicious one he previously wrote. Forrest arrives and immediately makes Suzanne nervous about whatever he is going to do. He steals the microphone from more deserving people just to do this review. And that's where the grand spectacle begins.

It's a fantastic scene as Forrest slowly descends from trying to give happiness to trying to give brutal and vicious honesty. For everything that has happened, Forrest and Suzanne still regularly interact. After the display at the rehearsal dinner, that may no longer be the case. Forrest had a perfect stopping point with his speech. He was heartfelt and genuine in saying that he's just trying to make Suzanne happy and that she seems the happiest when she's with Joe. And yet, Forrest gets way too caught up in the moment. He's not especially sincere with his speech at first because he has knowledge about what this relationship actually is. That mixes in with his desire to win Suzanne back and leads to a sequence where the ugly truths come out. Forrest can't help himself from continuing to talk. That leads to his true feelings coming out as well as the truth about how Suzanne and Joe actually started as a couple. It's a battle between the two men that starts civilly, turns physical, and ends with Forrest doing the maximum amount of damage with his words. He destroys the happiness Suzanne was feeling all in the pursuit of exposing Joe as a fraud and himself as the good man in this situation. Instead, it could basically destroy whatever was left of their relationship for good. And yet, Forrest remains hopeful. He is giddy by the fact that they called off the wedding. That is enough for him to be happy and give the review a solid rating. It's also enough to make this episode one of the strongest of the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • Forrest's reviews this week are: Being Buried Alive - Half a Star; Giving Something Six Stars - One Star; and Public Speaking - 4 and a Half Stars.
  • This is just a fantastic episode for Megan Stevenson's A.J. Gibbs. She still has so many great reaction shots. But she also has so much enthusiasm when the idea of Forrest vetoing something pops up. And then, she is just so committed to kicking Forrest in the balls. It's all very fantastic.
  • This is something I just noticed, but why doesn't the audience see A.J. around the office more? Does she just spend all of her time on that one set waiting to give Forrest reviews? Doesn't she have a life outside the show?
  • Forrest: "Before that phone call I felt completely out of my element in this coffin. Now I feel right at home."
  • Forrest: "My incredible and inspiring refusal to lie down and die sent my fists shattering through a thin layer of particle board and crawling through soil to face what was left of my life."
  • Forrest: "No I can't do that. I mean if the scale can change, then anything can change. And then, none of this means anything at all."
  • Forrest: "It's an agony that starts in my left testicle and ripples out to the rest of my body."
  • Forrest: "Words have power to move people. Sometimes in positive ways and sometimes in very negative ways. Public speakers must be prepared for that."