Friday, October 20, 2017

REVIEW: ABC's 'The Good Doctor,' 'Fresh Off the Boat,' 'Black-ish,' 'The Mayor' and 'Designated Survivor' (October 15-21)

Various reviews from ABC shows for October 15-21, 2017:

ABC's The Good Doctor - Episode 1.04 "Pipes"
ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 4.03 "Kids"
ABC's Black-ish - Episode 4.03 "Elder Scam"
ABC's The Mayor - Episode 1.03 "Buyer's Remorse"
ABC's Designated Survivor - Episode 2.04 "Equilibrium"

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 shows that aired new episodes on ABC from October 15-21, 2017. Enjoy!

The Good Doctor - "Pipes"
Dr. Neil Melendez and the team have to wade through legal waters when a husband and wife have to make a life-changing decision about their unborn child. Dr. Shaun Murphy struggles to adjust to his new environment at home and makes a huge step forward with his colleagues. Written by Thomas L. Moran and directed by Stephen DePaul

This episode feels like a step in the right direction while still having a couple of annoying problems it needs to address. It's still immensely better when Shaun is the character of focus in any scene he is in. He works better that way and isn't asked to be a mystery that needs to be solved by his co-workers. It's fascinating to get inside his head some more. He's dealt with a lot of adjustments this season so far. But he's still one bad day away from a complete meltdown. His neighbor finds him charming. But even Dr. Glassman is struggling with what it's like to have Shaun as a regular part of his life. Meanwhile, it's significant that Shaun and Andrews are paired together for a medical story. Andrews has been reluctant to have Shaun at the hospital. And now, they are actually interacting. It's no longer something in the abstract. Of course, it's weird that Shaun is the brilliant mind who comes up with the solution in this case. It doesn't seem all that new or innovative. It feels like something Andrews should have thought of before that point in the story. So, it's awkward that a resident seems to know more than the chief of surgery. That could be a fascinating story should the show want to pursue it. But that seems very doubtful. It's already being very inconsistent with the fact that Shaun hates questions. Meanwhile, the show is proving that it's not beholden to Shaun being the only doctor who can think of innovative techniques. Jared gets his moment to shine in assisting Melendez on a procedure. Sure, the moment where Jared notes that Melendez called the patient a baby instead of a fetus added nothing to the story. But I like how the show is dealing with the legality of medicine more and more. Those boardroom scenes are more condensed than the one in the pilot. But they're still very effective. And finally, I don't really care about any of the romantic pairings at this point. However, I do appreciate that the show is telling different stories with them. Jared and Claire aren't dealing with the same things as Melendez and Jessica. B-

Fresh Off the Boat - "Kids"
With the realization that Eddie is finally mature enough to be left on his own, Louis and Jessica see the light at the end of their parenting tunnel and make plans to spend more time with friends Honey and Marvin. Until their neighbors announce a plan of their own: Marvin is getting his vasectomy reversed so the couple can conceive a baby. The Huangs do their best to dissuade them. Written by Jeff Chiang and directed by Erin O'Malley

The moment that Louis and Jessica pull their old, white couch out of storage it's only a matter of time before someone spills something on. It's perfectly fine that they are optimistic that won't happen after Eddie proves that he is maturing. But it's still very inevitable in the end as well. As such, the execution needed to be perfect in order for it to be funny. Fortunately, that's exactly what occurs. The subplot with Eddie, Evan and Allison isn't that great. It's amusing to depict Eddie and Allison as a divorced couple trying to break things easy to Evan. That would be more effective if Allison and Evan's friendship was seen onscreen before this episode. And yet, the moment where Evan takes his ice cream and purposefully shoves it into the couch while never breaking eye contact with them is easily one of the funniest moments of this season so far. It's just terrific. The main story with Louis, Jessica, Marvin and Honey is pretty amusing as well. Its comedic highlight comes when the four of them are out at karaoke and Marvin and Honey are doing competing songs at each other. The Huangs have no idea what's happening but admire the passion in their performances. Louis still performing after that is pretty great too. Plus, it doesn't distract from the true emotion of this story. It should be fascinating to see if the two trying to conceive a baby becomes a major story of the season. Nicole's moment at the end is slightly weird because it feels like there should be a punchline after she exits. But there isn't one. It suggests uncertainty in the desire to have more kids. But it would honestly be intriguing to see Honey and Marvin as parents to a newborn. B+

Black-ish - "Elder Scam"
Ruby gets scammed and Dre begins to suspect that she isn't as sharp as she used to be, particularly because she was the one who used to scam other people. Zoey's friend Aaron visits and Diane develops an instant crush on him. Written by Courtney Lilly and directed by Anton Cropper

This season of Black-ish has been operating at such a high level so far that it seemed inevitable that it would deliver a disappointing episode sooner or later. "Elder Scam" isn't all that bad though. It's just awkward after following the first two episodes of the season. It's not surprising that the show is featuring more characters from the upcoming spinoff Grown-ish before it debuts in January. But Aaron really doesn't do much in the actual story. He's just Zoey's attractive friend from college. That's about it. Also, has the show really offered an explanation for why Zoey isn't at college yet? Is she starting in January instead of September? Meanwhile, it's fascinating to see Diane take a romantic interest in someone. That's new for her. But this story just doesn't make any sense and survives mostly on awkward situations. As such, it's not all that effective. Meanwhile, things are significantly better with Dre as he's worried about his mother's mental health. That's a fascinating story that has a strong focus because of that compelling character dynamic. He's way too close to her. That makes him the perfect target for her latest scam. The show does enough to suggest that Ruby may be losing her edge. But it's pivot in the end to show that she's still got it mostly just proves that she won't be fundamentally changing as a character any time soon. She'll still be the inappropriate grandmother of this family who loves Dre and the kids while having disdain for Bow and Pops. B

The Mayor - "Buyer's Remorse"
As Courtney settles into his new role as mayor, he's faced with a dismal approval rating as the citizens of Fort Grey express their lack of confidence in his ability to lead, as well as those on his own staff. He realizes that he needs to take an unconventional approach when dealing with Councilman Ed Gunt and comes up with a plan to quickly turn public opinion in his favor. Written by Jeremy Bronson and directed by John Fortenberry

"Buyer's Remorse" was clearly suppose to be the second episode of the series. It was easy to tell that even before looking at the production notes. It's an episode all about Courtney settling into this job and learning about this new environment even though he played the game very effective against Councilman Gunt in last week's episode to save the music program. As such, it highlights how a formula is already starting to form in this show. Every week seems to focus on Courtney wanting to do something for idealistic reasons, him running into bureaucratic resistance from Gunt, and then him finding a workaround that is completely true to himself. Here, all the answers are there for him to find a solution to this deal in the hopes of boosting his approval rating. He has the three C's to success already - compassion, compromise and Courtney. He just forgets about them as soon as he's faced with major resistance, gets a pep talk from Dina, and finds a way to stay true to himself while being a leader in the end. It's a nice formula to have. But it can't be the only thing this show does either. Of course, the ensemble is already better developed than most new shows out there. Jermaine and T.K. fighting for Courtney's appreciation is a very amusing subplot. In their efforts to impress him, neither of them actually do the job they are suppose to do. Of course, I'm worried that there's no receptionist at city hall. That will need to change moving forward. But this dynamic between the three of them is already so relaxed and natural. That allows the comedy to flow very easily. B

Designated Survivor - "Equilibrium"
Tensions rise between America and Mexico when a Mexican citizen is shot during a border dispute regarding Mexican trade imports. Kirkman and his staff must work quickly to resolve the situation and create a new trade deal. Written by Paul Redford & Keith Eisner and directed by Joe Lazarov

"Equilibrium" isn't as crowded with plot in the hopes to make things seem complicated like the rest of the season has done up to this point. It focuses largely on this dispute between America and Mexico. Yes, time is also given to Agent Wells investigating Alex's mother for taking a bribe and the broken vase case. But those stories don't ultimately amount to much. It would seem that the show is trying to inject some more comedy into the proceedings by highlighting the quirky details of what living in the White House is actually like. But the officer handling the broken vase case was too judgmental and annoying. Her finally moment with Lyor wasn't great or interesting in the slightest. That also highlights a further problem for this season. Lyor and Aaron are just too similar as characters. They are both dicks to the people around them because they believe their job is more important than everyone else's. They can serve the President effectively. But they are horrible in their interactions with everyone else. Lyor is more quirky while Aaron is more aggressive. But that doesn't make them interesting characters who don't ultimately fill the same role in the show. Not enough has been done to distinguish them. This story tries to suggest that Aaron should connect to his Mexican roots more. Right now, it feels like everyone is being judgmental of him because he's turning his back on the cause they believe he should identify with. But in the end, it's suppose to be heartwarming that he goes to see his family again for the first time in awhile. Sure, it would be great to see more into the personal lives of the White House staffers. But everything in this episode is too neatly resolved with the show wanting us to understand and appreciate the characters. That's not effective because a solution just presents itself because of a friend Kirkman has who has never been seen before. C+