Wednesday, October 4, 2017

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'Ghosted,' 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'The Mindy Project' and 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' (October 1-7)

Various comedy reviews for October 1-7, 2017:

FOX's Ghosted - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"
FOX's The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.01 "M.U.B.A.R."
Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.04 "Leo's Girlfriend"
FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.02 "The Big House, Pt. 2"

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 October 1-7, 2017. Enjoy!

Ghosted - "Pilot"
When a key member of The Bureau Underground goes missing, Leroy, a cynical former detective, and Max, a genius "true believer" in the paranormal, are recruited to find him. The two polar opposites must work together to find the agent, while uncovering possible alien activity and chilling "unexplained" paranormal events in their own city. Directed by Jonathan Krisel with story by Tom Gormican and teleplay by Tom Gormican & Kevin Etten

The premiere for Ghosted is very much a premise pilot. It's selling this idea to advertisers and an audience even though it's very cumbersome and expositional. No one in the supporting cast truly stands out because they are saddled with one-note descriptions. That's especially awkward for Ally Walker because all she does is explain the plot in this premiere. That's annoying. And yet, there is so much potential in this show because of the chemistry and charm of its leading men as well as the actual premise. No, there is nothing in this opening episode that suggests Ghosted will provide anything significantly better or different than what TBS' People of Earth has done for two seasons with vastly more characters. And yet, it's still fun and pleasant to watch because of the dynamic between Adam Scott and Craig Robinson. Those two performers have been fantastic to watch on various ensembles over the years. They've had healthy careers figuring out these character types that they are playing here. But the most successful moments of this premiere are just when Max and Leroy are sitting in a car riffing on one another. When things turn to the more dramatic with Max's abducted wife and Leroy's dead partner, it still works because the actors can give the situation some emotional stakes. That's very much needed if the show wants to be more than just a fun parody of supernatural and genre tropes. B

The Last Man on Earth - "M.U.B.A.R."
Pamela finds her place within the group as they all set sail for Mexico, avoiding the apocalyptic nuclear fallout in the United States. Their course derails a bit when they realize that none of them knows how to actually navigate a yacht. Written by Rich Holmquist & John Solomon and directed by John Solomon

In the first season of this show, it became an expected twist that new survivors would join the ensemble. New people kept popping up all over the place. And now, it has become the expected twist that early on in each season there's a big guest star who does a quick cameo before getting killed off. In Season 2, it was Will Ferrell. In Season 3, it was Jon Hamm. And in Season 4, it's Jack Black. It's absolutely delightful to see him onscreen in this world for a moment. But the twist is completely expected while not doing anything new within this formula. It's gotten a little tiring. Meanwhile, Pamela was such a fascinating character in her debut episode last season. And now, she's perhaps a little too one-note in her self-obsessed personality. She laughs at Tandy's jokes and hogs all of the supplies. It's a fine story that doesn't ultimately do much. It's more amusing to watch as Melissa and Gail struggle to steer this boat only to get lost at sea for not dropping the anchor correctly. It all just feels like setup for a new story that separates the group into two. That's the main focus here instead of the pending nuclear meltdown disaster. It's more important that the group wants to get rid of Pamela and she retaliates by kidnapping Tandy and the boat. It's an exciting tease. And so is the reveal that someone else is living on this island they have discovered. But it all seems a little familiar and expected as well. Of course, the recurring joke about worrying that Pat could possibly come back to life at any moment is very solid and hilarious - especially when it comes to the two jet skis returning to each other. B

The Mindy Project - "Leo's Girlfriend"
Mindy goes toe to toe with a cliquey mom at Leo's school. Meanwhile, Tamra fends off the advances of an ex she never thought she'd backslide with. Written by Charlie Grandy & Meredith Dawson and directed by Ike Barinholtz

The show has tackled the story of stay-at-home parenting versus working before. It was a significant contributing factor to Mindy and Danny's breakup in the first place. Neither one of them wanted to give up their careers. It was this huge destructive storyline. So, it's a little fitting that the grand return of Danny in the final season ties into this story. It's a meaningful moment when he stands up for Mindy and says that she is a wonderful mother to Leo even though she doesn't contribute at the school. That's a moment that makes it pretty clear that this final season is building to a romantic reunion between Mindy and Danny. With time, it seems like this issue that drove them apart has softened. Plus, they are emotionally available for one another once more. Of course, it's just thrilling to see Danny again. He and Mindy always had a fantastic dynamic even when they weren't a couple. Danny - along with guest star Julie Bowen - make the main story pretty amusing to watch. Meanwhile, Tamra's story just feels like it takes the expected twist. She gets pregnant with Morgan's baby and doesn't want to tell him because she had bigger aspirations for the father of her baby. It's bound to backfire immensely on her. But that just seems lame, lackluster and forced. I genuinely don't care about them as a couple. That's a significant problem given how much screen time they've gotten so far in this final year. B

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Big House, Pt. 2"
When the warden asks Jake to investigate Romero's drug smuggling operation, Jake and Caleb find themselves caught between the loyalty Jake has sworn to both of them. Amy is offered a deal by a local mobster who claims he can prove that Hawkins is guilty, but Holt and the rest of the gang think they have a safer plan. Written by Justin Noble and directed by Michael McDonald

Heading into this season, it was an exciting premise to have Jake and Rosa in prison. It was the show following a familiar pattern. But it was an enticing way to pick up the story. In execution though, it wasn't all that successful because it isolated Jake all by himself for the majority of these episodes. It's an amusing premise to have him in solitary confinement where he's alone with his thoughts. Jake is a character who needs to be around over people in order to function as a human being. These episodes have proven that he needs to be around the other main characters in order to be funny to watch though. The show has incorporated some wonderful guest stars in Jake's corner of the story. But they are mostly just distracting while having nothing to do with his ultimate release. It's just something for him to do while in prison which doesn't seem like the best use of everyone's time. Fortunately, this episode marks the end of this prison arc with Hawkins being exposed and Jake and Rosa being set free. It just comes with the added complication of Holt now owing a favor to a dangerous mobster. That's something to keep an eye on in the immediate future. This episode mostly succeeds when it comes to Holt as well. The running joke about him failing to convincingly play a straight man is always great and so is his eventually takedown of Hawkins. With all of this out of the way, hopefully the rest of the season will start getting back to the creative highs of last season. C+