Thursday, September 28, 2017

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'The Mindy Project,' 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' 'Broad City,' 'You're the Worst' and 'Superstore' (September 24-30)

Various comedy reviews for September 24-30, 2017:

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.03 "May Divorce Be With You"
FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.01 "The Big House, Pt. 1"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.03 "Just the Tips"
FXX's You're the Worst - Episode 4.05 "Fog of War, Bro"
NBC's Superstore - Episode 3.01 "Grand Re-Opening"

In 2017, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage of various shows, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various comedies that aired new episodes from September 24-30, 2017. Enjoy!

The Mindy Project - "May Divorce Be With You"
Mindy turns to her ex, Cliff, for help navigating her messy divorce. But Peter is back in town to help pull Mindy out of her slump with an epic office karaoke party! Written by Matt Warburton & Jennifer Vierck and directed by Linda Mendoza

I'm still totally sure how I feel about how the show is handling Mindy's divorce this season. On one hand, it seems like the show is doing it very quickly because her romance with Ben wasn't the most exciting storyline of last season. On the other hand, it seems like they are just boldly skipping past something that should be a big deal for Mindy. Her co-workers are pointing out that she has been obsessed with marriage for her entire life. And yet, that's basically the only commentary on that. The actual divorce is just way too easy. All it takes is Mindy having a conversation with Ben's daughter for the two sides to equally agree on things. That just feels false without trying to give the story the nuance and respect it deserves. Of course, it's making a key pivot as well to what the series' end game will most likely be. The season is bringing back the show's most successful characters from the earlier seasons. Peter has officially moved back to New York. His dynamic with Mindy has always been great. He understands her in a way no one else does and it's actually funny too. Meanwhile, it's great that Tracey Wigfield wasn't too busy running her own show (NBC's Great News) to make a return appearance here - though the jokes about her perm were incredibly lame. But it's more of an enticing tease to learn that Danny could be making his way back as well. He's probably been a consistent part of Mindy's life because they are co-parenting Leo. But Danny hasn't been seen onscreen in awhile. So hopefully, he is able to return and have a substantial arc too. It's just a tease now but I'm intrigued to see what happens next. B-

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Big House, Pt. 1"
Jake and Rosa assimilate to their new lives behind bars, but both are coping in very different ways. Jake bonds with his cellmate, Caleb, and is forced to join a prison gang led by notorious inmate Romero, in order to gain his protection. In the women's prison, Rosa puts Holt and Terry to the test by having them complete outrageous favors for her. Back in the precinct, Amy and Charles are doing all they can to exonerate their colleagues. Written by Luke Del Tredici and directed by Tristram Shapeero

The fourth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine was easily its best so far. There was just a strong confidence on display that worked incredibly well. The balance of comedy and more serious moments worked. It still ended in a familiar way with the precinct being broken up. This time it was Jake and Rosa going to prison after being framed as bank robbers. This premiere really isn't showing how the two of them are going to escape this situation either. It's again a familiar setup of how each season typically starts in this world. The finales have cliffhangers that take a couple episodes in the next season to get out of. Jake and Rosa are still in prison at the end of this premiere. I'm intrigued to see how the creative team plans on resolving the situation. Right now, it's more important to showcase what their lives on the inside are like. Rosa's story is the more effective of the two because it's so simple. She just has a list of demands for Holt and Terry to do. It would have been worth it alone for Andre Braugher saying "Yas Queen." But the punchline with the cable company is terrific as well. Meanwhile, things are a little too complicated and play into the serious nature of life in prison with Jake. It's always a balancing act for this show regarding how serious it can address the realities of this profession. There are some gifted performers in Jake's story - including Tim Meadows, Lou Diamond Phillips and Toby Huss. But the jokes about Caleb the cannibal cellmate devouring children were more tragic and sad than amusing. The bit with the ramen noodles was solid. But the death threats from Romero felt a little too out-of-place. Again, it's because the audience has the understanding that Jake will emerge from this perfectly fine at some point. It would just be better not to drag this out for too long. B

Broad City - "Just the Tips"
Ilana goes on a spending spree with her waitressing cash, and Abbi basks in the glow of a new relationship. Later that night, the girls bump into an old friend at a party. Written by Paul W. Downs & Lucia Aniello and directed by Neil Daly

This season of Broad City has gotten off to a strong start. But "Just the Tips" feels like a comedown. It begins with a great cold open with Abbi and Ilana helping the elite choking guy only to get refused access to his gated community and refuse to help him when he starts choking again. But that's the highlight of the episode. Abbi's story feels especially one-note. She's obsessing over this new relationship. She's telling everyone about it. She believes it's the best thing that's ever happened to her. And then, she gets laughed at when she's trying to give relationship advice to a married woman. It's strange and doesn't have the depth to actually work. Meanwhile, it's amusing to see Ilana with so much money from her new waitressing job. She doesn't know what to do with it which does feel like an evolution for the character. But she's still the woman who'll throw a wine glass against the wall as soon as she's done with it. The return of Lincoln was a surprising moment. Things take a rather sweet turn too when they are in the bathroom together after Ilana has pooped her leotard. It's a nice sentiment that both of them want each other to get what they want. It's a story that flirts with nuance but still doesn't amount to a whole lot. Plus, it's funny that Jaime thinks that Ilana is like a Colombian drug lord. That's only funny because Arturo Castro just played a Colombian drug lord on Narcos. B

You're the Worst - "Fog of War, Bro"
Gretchen has moved back into the house and plays mind games with Jimmy, sabotaging his first interview for the new book. Seeing an opportunity in Gretchen's return to the house, Edgar and Lindsay plot to get Jimmy and Gretchen back together. Written by Eva Anderson and directed by Stephen Falk.

The war between Jimmy and Gretchen was bound to escalate now that they are living in the same house. And it's absolutely delightful and completely wicked to watch throughout this episode. The direction treats the story as if it is a horror movie. The action is mostly centered around Jimmy's house. Jimmy has no idea what Gretchen is doing there and worries about what she'll do during his big interview with People magazine. The bit about mutually assured destructive is so significant as well. It establishes rules to make it clear that neither of them are actively ruining the other person without cause. But it's hilarious when all of that goes away just moments later. Jimmy didn't mean to text Sam and Shitstain about Gretchen lying to them about her European trip. But it's the moment that justifies everything she then does. Gretchen is so full of anger towards Jimmy. And now, she has a reason to ruin him professionally. There is just so much wonderful tension that comes out of not knowing what to think of everything she does. Sam and Shitstain are ready to hurt Jimmy after learning the truth about his proposal. And then, Gretchen emerges to be the supportive fiancé who is helping rework the narrative for Jimmy's book. She proves that she's a smart and capable publicist. Then, she blows it all up to make Jimmy's life as miserable as possible. And it absolutely works too because of Aya Cash's performance. This story doesn't have the same depth as her depression story did. But it's led to some of the strongest material for her so far on the show. Edgar and Lindsay want everything to go back to normal. But the two of them seeing Gretchen and Boone together is the exact kind of note to end on that proves things are just getting started. A

Superstore - "Grand Re-Opening"
The Cloud 9 employees are rushing to finish re-building the store in time for its "Grand Re-Opening." Amy and Jonah confront their awkward kiss. Glenn discovers something about himself. Garrett avoids Jonah. Mateo worries about the voicemail he left on Jeff's phone. Dina meets her match in special guest star, Howie Mandel. Written by Justin Spitzer and directed by Matt Sohn

The tornado at the end of last season was quite a destructive act. It forced all of these various plots to come to a head in the finale and left an aftermath where none of the characters could really address them immediately. It's been a couple months since the employees have seen each other as the store has been rebuilt. And now, it's the big re-opening. It's great that a clerical error on Glenn's part means that the store isn't ready in time for this grand event. It's hilarious to see Dina and Amy take charge as they attempt to make the store look presentable. They believe they can fix everything and make everything right the following day. Of course, it's more significant for Amy and Jonah to discuss their kiss during the hurricane. Things are incredibly awkward between them. They want to be friends but things are so complicated. Amy's daughter is starting high school and she's getting a divorce while Jonah is now living in a trailer park looking for a better living arrangement. Him and Garrett moving in together could be a lot of fun - though the show doesn't spend too much time out of the workplace. But the way the show handles this time for Amy and Jonah is very mature while still being wrapped up in a silly visual joke with the two of them dressed as Minions. That's very effective. Meanwhile, Mateo worrying about the voicemail he left Jeff just feels like a story that needed to be addressed because of the finale but is being quickly disregarded here. Plus, the appearance of special guest star Howie Mandel really doesn't have any importance whatsoever. B+