Thursday, December 10, 2015

REVIEW: 'Mom' - Christy Continues to Have a Tense Dynamic with Baxter's Girlfriend in 'A Pirate, Three Frogs and a Prince'

CBS' Mom - Episode 3.05 "A Pirate, Three Frogs and a Prince"

Roscoe's parent-teacher conference leaves Christy feeling threatened by Baxter's girlfriend, Candace. Bonnie tries to get her dating mojo back by flirting with an unlikely target.

"A Pirate, Three Frogs and a Prince" is definitely a broader episode of Mom. It hits the punchlines a little harder and more frequently than usual. It's a mode the show has embraced from time to time over the years. But broad comedy has never been its strong suit. It can do physical humor well and is great at making almost every emotional moment with Christy, Bonnie and Violet work. But this episode largely just feels transitional. It doesn't really do a whole lot with the characters that is moving or meaningful. Not a whole lot changes over this episode. So that means the laughs needed to come out frequently. But not many of them really worked all that well. Even though it's understandable why the show does an episode like this - to actually fill out a 22 episode season that isn't emotionally draining on the characters or the audience all the time - it's just not as fun and enjoyable as the show is capable of being.

It is an important realization for Christy when she sees that Candace has been a better mother to Roscoe than she has as of late. That terrifies her. She doesn't like Candace all that much. She has to put up with her because she's in Baxter's life. And yet, he is really serious about his relationship with her. Candace isn't just Baxter's latest girlfriend. She actually helped turn his life around. She is still very controlling and manipulative. That is apparent in nearly every scene that features her. However, that has given purpose and structure to Baxter's life. It's because of her that he is now a functioning character on the show. Their relationship may not last. But it is crucial in the moment. Baxter has become a responsible parent to Roscoe. Christy had to embrace that when they made the significant change to Roscoe's living arrangement. Christy doesn't enjoy having so little time with her son. But she can't do anything about it because he is doing so much better in school because of it.

Christy hates that she can never be the person to bring out the good in other people. Baxter was just as much a mess with her as he was living on his own in his van. Candace changed him. Christy couldn't care less that Baxter is planning on proposing to Candace. But that also shows just how serious Baxter is about this relationship and just how much support this living arrangement will have for the foreseeable future. There's nothing Christy can do because it would only hurt her son. She doesn't want that. Candace makes her so angry. That's a character note that this episode does a bit too much. It's up to the rest of the characters to tell Christy that she's thinking irrationally. That really doesn't do a whole lot of character development for Candace. She is literally just Baxter's girlfriend who changed him. That's a relationship that is still going to be strong in the future too despite the nuance. Even with Christy's best efforts, she can't find a reasonable explanation to break this good thing up. She just hates that she can't spend more time with her son.

Meanwhile, Bonnie has apparently lost her ability to flirt since Alvin's passing. It is a good thing that she is putting herself out there again. But this story is all kinds of ridiculous. It's really hard to believe that the main group would suggest she dip her toes back in the dating pool with the men from a meeting. That just seems like it could go wrong any number of ways. But everyone seems okay with that because it can mean more comedic hijinks for Bonnie. This should be an important decision for the character. She loved Alvin more than anything in the world. His passing hurt her in a deeply personal way. It should be so meaningful that she is finally getting the courage to go out there again and find a new man to be with. Here, the story is mostly treated for laughs especially once she starts aggressively flirting just to have fun with the guy.

Bonnie's target is Steve, Christy's lawyer friend who she helps out from time to time. It's important to remember that Christy also has a job with him. But that's really not the focus of this story. The focus is actually in Bonnie actually taking this relationship more seriously than she thought at first. In the beginning, she just wanted to flirt with him to prove that she still had it. But then, that evolved into some pretty hardcore teasing. That scene where she visits his office is purely physical comedy that revolves around the skimpy outfit she is wearing. Her line reading of "laundry day" was an amusing bit. But that's really the only thing that works in this sequence. Later on, when she asks Christy to take suggestive pictures of her, it's just a scene that is odd and unsure of itself. The show is obviously building to the moment where the two of them actually hook up. But the buildup doesn't actually make that moment work all that well. They do so because they strangely find themselves attracted to each other. But that carries no major significance because that's all there is in this episode. The aftermath of that decision should be interesting. Or it could just be completely forgotten about. That would mean that nothing really changed or propelled the characters forward in this episode. It was just a half hour meant to be fun but was largely bland and forgettable.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A Pirate, Three Frogs and a Prince" was directed by James Widdoes with story by Chuck Lorre & Warren Bell and teleplay by Eddie Gorodetsky, Alissa Neubauer & Michael Borkow.
  • The running joke about Wendy being attracted to Bonnie because of her long legs really didn't work. It felt like it came out of a sitcom from a decade ago. It was an attempt to give the episode some edge and some easy humor. But it never really worked - or informed that character in a major way.
  • Speaking of character weirdness, the comments from Jill about her being close to her stepmom and being naked in the shower with her cousin were just a little too weird and offbeat - though not completely terrible.
  • Marjorie telling the rest of the girls about her consistent sex schedule largely felt like a way for the show to name drop fellow CBS show Blue Bloods. But hey, Marjorie is totally a person who would watch that show live.
  • Will Baxter change his proposal plans now that Christy has brought up the choking hazard? She meant it seriously too. 
  • How is this the first time Christy has noticed just how graphic and violent the zombie-killing video game Roscoe is playing is? But nevertheless, that conversation was a scene that largely did work. Plus that hug in the end was fantastic.