Saturday, October 21, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Mindy Project,' 'Great News,' 'SEAL Team' and 'Broad City' (October 15-21)

Various comedy and drama reviews for October 15-21, 2017:

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.06 "The Midwife's Tale"
NBC's Great News - Episode 2.04 "Award Show"
CBS' SEAL TEAM - Episode 1.04 "Ghosts of Christmas Future"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.05 "Abbi's Mom"

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 from October 15-21, 2017. Enjoy!

The Mindy Project - "The Midwife's Tale"
Shulman and Associates is turned upside down when Mindy hires a down-on-his-luck Brendan Deslaurier. Rumors fly about who's the father of Tamra's baby. Written by Chris Schleicher and directed by Daniela Eisman

This episode tries to position Mindy as having moved past her desires for romantic love. She's proclaiming that she's perfectly content with what her life is like right now. She has love for Leo and her career. She believes that to be enough. And yet, the show really isn't doing a great job at selling this significant pivot with its lead character. The show has always been defined by romance. Yes, it's tackled a number of great stories to compromise character's relationships. But it has always been about who is dating whom. Plus, the episode ends with Mindy remaining open to the idea of romance in the future. That's not surprising because this final season has been setting up a grand reunion between her and Danny. That's expected. So, all of this plotting in this episode feels forced. That extends to what is going on with Morgan, Tamra and Jody as well. It's nice that Mary doesn't fall into the familiar pattern of not wanting to date Jody because of a rumor she hears. But the show is pushing them together despite no chemistry whatsoever. Ana Ortiz feels wasted on this show which is so disappointing. Mary deserves so much better than Jody. She deserves to have a more fleshed out dynamic with Anna. Meanwhile, everyone in the office learning about Tamra's pregnancy and Morgan being the father is the big hook for the episode. If you're into that romantic coupling, you were probably moved by Morgan's grand proposal that only injured him further. To me, it wasn't that sweet or charming. This season has put them back together romantically. This was the inevitable outcome. But it still mostly feels like final season plotting instead of a natural development in the story. C

Great News - "Award Show"
For the first time in years, "The Breakdown" has been nominated for an American Journalism Award. Katie is looking forward to spending the night as a peer with the very reporters she has admired her whole life. Fearing her mother will ruin it, Katie tries to stop Carol from attending but is unsuccessful when Carol secures a position as a seat-filler. Katie is stuck babysitting her mom all night but gets distracted by Jeremy, a handsome New York Times reporter who looks down on cable news. Chuck is excited to reunite with all of his old anchormen friends, especially Len Archer, an idol of Chuck's who is receive a lifetime achievement award. Written by Chrissy Pietrosh & Jessica Goldstein and directed by Tristram Shapeero

This is the first episode of the season without Tina Fey making a guest appearance. The show was perfectly fine and amusing without her. But she's been a very central focus for this season so far. So, her departure is very noticeable. As such, the show returns to its foundational story of Katie and Carol working together even though Katie is frequently embarrassed by her mother. It's an effective story. The show just doesn't do a whole lot to subvert the formula in this episode. Of course, it's still quite pleasant to watch. Yes, it's predictable that Katie worries that Carol is going to pull a Kanye when she loses her individual award only to do it herself once Carol loses for being a part of the show's recognition. But that moment still comes from a genuine place. The joke about Katie always forgetting Carol is a human with her own dreams while she's wearing a seat filler sign saying she's not a person is great. And so is the fact that Portia was changing outfits in every single scene. It was a subtle joke called out early on that is consistently done throughout the remainder of the episode. Meanwhile, it's nice to see Chuck turn his back on "The Breakdown" only to eventually come back because he still respects the show that he is a part of unlike his anchorman friends. Again, it's exactly what Greg said would occur. But it still feels good in the moment. And finally, Jeremy is obviously being set up as a new love interest for Katie. Though I'm not sure if it's a relationship that could be easy to invest in because of how he looks down at the job Katie has in cable news. B

SEAL Team - "Ghosts of Christmas Future"
Jason and the SEAL Team refuse to abort a mission to capture a dangerous war criminal after it goes sideways. Clay's controversial father, Ash Spenser, comes to town on his book tour. Written by Benjamin Cavell & Daniele Nathanson and directed by Larry Teng

Early on, this feels like the episode that is going to focus more on the Jessica Paré character. So far, Mandy has just been the CIA officer who gives the team their missions and doesn't want to hang out with them after work because of the serious nature of their jobs. That's fair and understanding but hasn't made her an interesting character. This week she is given this mission by a superior who helped train her and who she has a solid friendship with. She sees that he is compromised because of his reckless pursuit of this war criminal. But in the end, her calling him out for falsifying intel isn't that big of a deal. Mandy isn't the main character to this story. She's in the same exact position as before which is lame. Jason is still the lead. He's still the guy coming up with the brilliant solutions that can allow every mission to go off without a hitch. That's perfectly fine and necessary for a show that's going to produce a 22 episode season. But it should be doing more to show just how precarious this job can be and how these missions can have serious consequences. The show only seems to be exploring that with the investigation into Nate's secret. That's fine as well. It's just not that compelling. Jason is obsessed with it. But it's still difficult to understand if the audience is suppose to agree with him or not. In the field, it's a definitive yes. But at home, his decision-making skills seem compromised and destructive. Those differences should make him a compelling character. Right now, it's just a little too bland and predictable to be all that effective. But hey, Nate's mystery women was in Afghanistan with the rest of the SEAL team. That means Jason won't let this secret die with Nate. That's enticing for the people who actually care about this mystery. Meanwhile, everything with Clay and his father seems like setup and filling in Clay's backstory more even though it's completely disconnected from everything else in the show. C+

Broad City - "Abbi's Mom"
Abbi's mom comes to the city for a visit. Ilana navigates the intense work culture while dealing with her seasonal affective disorder. Written by Ilana Glazer and directed by Nicholas Jasenovec

There was a delay for this fourth season of Broad City because Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer wanted to film in the winter instead of the summer like the first three seasons. They wanted the opportunity to tell different stories with their characters. Creatively, it was such a strong decision. Yes, the hiatus was long for the fans. But this season has been really terrific so far. Plus, this episode highlights the differences the creative team was talking about. Ilana's seasonal affective disorder couldn't have been seen in the summer months. It just pops up here because of the change of seasons. That's great. And the show finds a way to tell a story about depression while still being funny. Most of that comes from Ilana's over-the-top reactions to getting recharged. But the escalation of that story and Ilana needing more and more light is pretty terrific as well. Meanwhile, it's great to finally meet Abbi's mom. Susie Essman was perfect casting for Ilana's mom. And now, Peri Gilpin is perfect casting for Abbi's mom. This story is pretty serious as well with Abbi's mom realizing that she's lived a conservative life and wants to experience more in this world. Abbi's reaction to all of it is almost an afterthought. Her mother wants to have an honest relationship with her. But things are perhaps too honest. Not much time is spent on how Abbi copes with that. But that's not all that important either because it's just fun to see Abbi and her mother get high together and then go shopping for sex toys. It represents a nice amount of growth in the span of this episode as well. A-