Saturday, April 15, 2017

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'Superior Donuts,' 'Fresh Off the Boat' and 'Mom' (April 9-13)

Some brief reviews for various comedies from April 9-13:

CBS' Superior Donuts - Episode 1.10 "Painted Love"
ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 3.19 "Driving Miss Jenny"
CBS' Mom - Episode 4.19 "Tantric Sex and the Sprouted Flute"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still probably expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If the networks should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

Superior Donuts - "Painted Love"
Arthur encourages Franco to pursue his art but is caught off guard when Franco paints a mural on the side of the donut shop that sparks controversy in the neighborhood. Fawz decides to run for president of the Uptown Business Council. Written by Neil Goldman & Garrett Donovan and directed by Betsy Thomas

The series opened with Franco making his artistic aspirations known to Arthur. That was a big deal in establishing their bond of supporting each other. Arthur appreciated Franco's talent in a way his father did not. And yet, that hasn't really been important since then. This episode tries to change that with Franco becoming passionate about art again. He paints a mural that divides the community. That's a fascinating premise for an episode. It's about a community arguing over who best represents their values. Is it the people who actually live there? Or is it the people they aspire to be? It's an interesting debate that gets lost a little bit because of the comedic hijinks going on with Randy and Fawz. It's not surprising that the mural is taken down. But perhaps this will motivate the show into telling more stories about Franco and his art dreams. He has big ideas that will need to be reigned in. But they should be encouraged as well. That seems likely in the future with Randy gifting him a photo of his piece in the end. Now, the show just needs to follow through on it. B

Fresh Off the Boat - "Driving Miss Jenny"
Louis worries that Grandma's new motorized wheelchair gives her too much freedom, so he makes it a point to keep a close eye on her. He quickly learns that his constant hovering is cramping her style. Jessica fears that Emery's sentimental ways have turned him into a hoarder. Eddie tries to hustle his way into Evan's already-successful side business. Written by Laura McCreary and directed by Geeta Patel

Grandma has been a reliable scene stealer on this show across all three seasons. She deserves to have more main stories. Of course, it's understandable why she doesn't. The show doesn't want to overuse her because than the jokes would become more broad and less good. And yet, it's still great when it eventually happens each season. This year even has a nice arc with her getting a new wheelchair. That's given her more freedom which forces Louis to worry even more about her. It's a great main story filled with unexpected and funny twists - especially Grandma always finding a way to ditch people. The two subplots suffer from a lack of time devoted to them. Both of them have strong ideas - with Emery being a secret hoarder and Eddie helping Evan as a businessman. It's always great when Eddie has an argument that makes sense to the rest of his family. But both of these stories needed another scene to really help them land and feel fully formed. B+

Mom - "Tantric Sex and the Sprouted Flute"
Christy annoys everyone when she adopts her new boyfriend Brad's healthy lifestyle. Bonnie and Adam decide to take the next step in their relationship. Directed by James Widdoes with story by Eddie Gorodetsky, Nick Bakay & Gemma Baker and teleplay by Chuck Lorre, Sheldon Bull & Britté Anchor

When Christy and Bonnie say goodbye to each other as Bonnie leaves to move in with Adam, it's a very emotional, moving and earned scene. Yes, it's unlikely that these characters would be out of each other's daily lives. But it still means something because of the profound journey they've been on for four season. Plus, Bonnie moving in with Adam feels like the next logical step in their relationship. However, most of this episode then devolves into broad sitcom hijinks. There is fun to be found there as Bonnie and Adam fight over little things while Christy changes because of her new boyfriend. It all just feels a little too predictable. It's inevitable that Christy and Bonnie will end up together in that bed again. That's the core dynamic of the show. It doesn't seem like the show is willing to change it up too much at the moment. But does this mean that this is as far as the show can go with Bonnie and Adam as a couple? They've been a major focus this season. Their relationship will continue to develop. But if they can't live together, wouldn't that ring false? Similarly, is Christy destined to never date a guy for more than one episode? She deserves an ongoing love interest as well. B