Saturday, April 1, 2017

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'Jane the Virgin,' 'Superior Donuts,' 'The Mindy Project' and 'Mom' (March 26-30)

Some brief reviews for various comedies from March 26-30:

FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 3.13 "Find This Thing We Need To"
The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 3.15 "Chapter Fifty-Nine"
CBS' Superior Donuts - Episode 1.09 "Get It, Arthur"
Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 5.14 "A Decent Proposal"
CBS' Mom - Episode 4.17 "Black Mold and an Old Hot Dog"

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.

The Last Man on Earth - "Find This Thing We Need To"
Carol makes a big discovery, enlisting Tandy and Erica to help her track down some answers. Todd has a major breakthrough with Melissa. Written by Erik Durbin & Tim McAuliffe and directed by Steve Day

The show has been on a bit of a roll lately with creatively strong episodes that embraced the despair and darkness of this world. So, it's very disappointing that it delivers a dud of an episode this week. It is just so dull and anti-climatic. It sets up an expectation to unmask the new survivor wearing the Yoda mask. And yet, it spends the whole episode on various Tandy hijinks that last for way too long without doing anything new with the character. It's just lame and not even worth it in the end. We have to wait until next week to know Yoda's identity. Elsewhere, it should be rewarding that Todd and Gail are able to figure out the pills Melissa was taking before the virus. Instead, it's just weird because they are at odds with each other for no larger reason. Yes, it's powerful when Todd sees the elevator Gail was living in for ten days. Plus, the "Santa's penis" joke is fine. But this ultimately just felt like what was necessary to move the plot along. At least, Carol had some good zingers and stories though - especially the skunk one. C+

Jane the Virgin - "Chapter Fifty-Nine"
Jane is finally ready to get back in the dating game so she enlists the help of Rafael and Petra, but it seems they have their own issues to work on. Alba takes Xo and Jane's advice about being an independent woman when it comes to Jorge. Petra finds out that Chuck has been talking to the police, which could put her in hot water. Rogelio is trying to settle his lawsuit in a hurry so he can start his new telenovela, but it isn't going as smoothly as he hoped. Written by Deidre Shaw and directed by Anna Mastro

Everyone is getting their flirt on this week. It's very amusing and delightful. It also plays a little bit like romance musical chairs. The whole episode is about which attractive guy in Jane's orbit will actually stick as a potential boyfriend. Will it be Mateo's new aide? Michael's old partner? Or Rogelio's new co-star? It ends with Fabian and it seems largely like a physical attraction. But it's also nice for her to get back out there and see how she feels about dating three years after Michael's death. It's also great to see Alba in a romance too. I still have my doubts about Jorge. But it's also sweet to see her so happy right now and be open to love and sex just as easily as Xo and Jane. Meanwhile, it could be frustrating to see the show return to Xo-Rogelio and Rafael-Petra once more. And yet, things feel different now. They all have evolved as characters. There is still so much heart in the Xo-Rogelio pairing. It should be fascinating to see if their issues really are behind them. And then, Petra and Rafael find themselves in a new love triangle. Once again, it seems like Rafael is the odd man out just as he's being honest about he really feels. He deserves a longterm love interest who is actually good for him too. B+

Superior Donuts - "Get It, Arthur"
When Randy's mom comes to town, Franco encourages Arthur to go out on his first date in years. Written by Dan St. Germain and directed by Gail Mancuso

It's been really nice to see the show evolve across this first season. It's not relying on quips and broad physical comedy as much as the early episodes. It's allowed the characters to relax a little bit and expand their worlds. Sure, there are still some bits that don't entirely work. The main stories usually work a whole lot better than the subplots. Tush had a strong, humanizing moment when he was talking about his ex-wife. But the rest of that story was too broad to really work. Similarly, Franco constantly walking in on Arthur and Randy's mom was weird and didn't make much sense. But it was also a fascinating story because it showed that Randy and Franco don't need to worry about them. They are perfectly capable of having an adult conversation about a potential relationship. They even seem more mature as well. And ultimately, it's just about these characters being open to the possibilities that may come in the future. B

The Mindy Project - "A Decent Proposal"
Mindy hears that Ben might be planning to propose, just as she decides she never wants to get married. Colette and Karen get engaged, but Colette immediately gets cold feet. Jeremy and Anna's friendship is tested when Anna's ex-husband comes back. Written by Charlie Grandy and directed by Michael Spiller

Last week I noted that this season of The Mindy Project felt empty and hollow. And now, the season finale is trying to do a little too much in the hopes of making it all actually mean something. It doesn't quite work because it's too much effort too late in the season. Plus, it feels like stories the show has told before and much better. There's nothing amusing about Colette proposing to her girlfriend and then immediately getting cold feet. It's a relationship that hasn't been important. So, it's hard to care about the proposal or the breakup. It's nice that the show is continuing to play things slow with Jeremy and Anna. They aren't rushed into a romantic moment just because it's the finale. But Jeremy telling her she can do better than her ex-husband is the same exact plot that happened earlier this season. Meanwhile, Mindy not wanting to get married again should feel important. And yet, it's difficult to understand her reasons because she never does a great job explaining it. It does look like she immediately regrets her marriage to Ben on the train ride home too. It could be fascinating if the show is trying to say how little she has learned from her past mistakes. If so, the story has a hard time showing that. C+

Mom - "Black Mold and an Old Hot Dog"
Christy helps Jill adjust to being a new foster mother. Bonnie has troubling convincing tenants that she's a good building manager. Directed by Anthony Rich with story by Warren Bell & Sheldon Bull and teleplay by Gemma Baker, Anne Flett-Giordano & Britté Anchor

Jill's quest to become a parent has been one of the major stories of this season - alongside Bonnie's relationship with Adam. And now, she is finally fostering a child. It's a pretty strong main story. It highlights how unexpected all of this can be. She wasn't expecting a teenager and that sends her spiraling. That could be broad and cliche. And yet, it doesn't feel that way because her concerns do feel real. She doesn't know how to connect with this girl. Christy seems better at it even though her kids haven't been seen in a very long time. The teen validating Jill as a good foster parent doesn't really work. It's just something that Jill needed to hear in that moment to feel confident once more. Meanwhile, the stakes of Bonnie's story feel weird. It's the comedic story to contrast with the grounded emotion of what Jill's doing. However, it also presents a threat to Christy and Bonnie's apartment. It never really feels legitimate though. The family being homeless was a very important story for the show. The threat of that happening again ultimately feels a little too hollow with not enough payoff. B