Saturday, October 28, 2017

REVIEW: Hulu's 'The Mindy Project,' CBS' 'SEAL Team' and Comedy Central's 'Broad City' (October 22-28)

Various comedy and drama reviews for October 22-28, 2017:

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.07 "Girl Gone Wild"
CBS' SEAL Team - Episode 1.05 "Collapse"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.06 "Witches"

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 22-28, 2017. Enjoy!

The Mindy Project - "Girl Gone Wild"
Mindy is forced to go solo on the honeymoon that Ben had planned for them. Hoping for relaxation and a new romance, Mindy instead finds herself on a vegan wellness retreat with her ex-fiancé Casey and his hot new wife. Written by Miranda Berman and directed by David Rogers

The successfulness of this episode comes from the audience's ability to accept a number of convenient plot developments. The audience needs to just go along with this being Ben and Mindy's planned honeymoon even though it comes awhile after both their marriage and divorce, Ben thinking that this retreat would be something that Mindy would actually enjoy and Mindy running into Casey while in this new and random environment. If the audience can't accept those things, then the episode goes spiraling off the rails pretty quickly. I really struggled with this one. It once again feels like the show building to the inevitable conclusion of Mindy and Danny reuniting as a couple. And yet, it needs to stretch out the uncertainty because that seemingly can't happen until the series finale. That's weird and lame. When I learned that this final season was only going to be 10 episodes, I was slightly disappointed because it has done well with longer seasons and finding compelling stories - even though the characters have become less interesting over time (if they ever were in the first place). And now, I'm basically just ready for the show to air its final episode. It all seems like a foregone conclusion with nothing left that can actually surprise the audience. That's unfortunate. This episode even features a great cameo by Reese Witherspoon as herself. But her message just reinforces a core theme of the show. Mindy needs to accept that her life isn't like the romantic comedies she has idolized. Life is much more complicated than that and she needs to find her own path. She needs to find her own love in her own way. She needs to make that special without adhering to the plot of her favorite movies. It's great advice. But again, it feels like something the show has already tackled in the past that is still effective here because of the way it is delivered through Witherspoon. B

SEAL Team - "Collapse"
Jason and the SEAL Team must protect the American Embassy in South Sudan when the ambassador refuses to evacuate as the country becomes increasingly unstable. Clay and Stella take their relationship to the next level. Written by Becky Mode and directed by Ian Toynton

I can't say that I am all that surprised by the death of Brian in this episode. That's because I know that Jay Hayden has already booked a series regular role on ABC's upcoming firefighter spinoff of Grey's Anatomy. That signaled his time on this show would be cut short. But the way that it actually happens is just so awful and random. It's void of any kind of narrative and dramatic weight or significance. This is only the fifth episode of the season. The audience doesn't have any kind of attachment to Brian or his relationship with Clay. Right now, Clay's adventures stateside are mostly just distracting from the main plot each week. Plus, the show is just accelerating every story in that corner of the world. The show believes that Clay and Stella are this grand, romantic couple. They aren't. The show believes Clay and Brian are best friends where tragic death would be significant and emotional. It's not. It's basically the show just forging a thematic connection between Clay and Jason because they've both now lost friends in this line of work. The show thinks it's surprising to kill off a character stateside after the entire episode is about life-or-death stakes in the South Sudan with the main team. The show would have been better off if this episode was just about that mission without seeing the team at home at all. There's nothing interesting going on at home. The tension and excitement comes from the actual mission. If more time was spent there, then there could have been more nuance to the various characters. Instead, most everything happens for plot reasons to make everything as dramatic as possible. It's understandable but very manipulative and defying logistics in some instances. It had the potential to be compelling and tense. But the execution is very lackluster. D+

Broad City - "Witches"
Abbi freaks out about aging after discovering a gray hair, and Ilana tries to recapture her sexual spark. Written by Gabe Liedman and directed by Abbi Jacobson

This season of Broad City has been incredible so far. It's aware that its characters are growing up and need to embrace different kinds of stories in this world. It's also aware that the world at large has changed radically since the last time it aired. This is such an empowering episode of the show because it highlights the power of older women. Abbi and Ilana are getting older but they are still struggling to make it in this world. Abbi is a struggling artist while Ilana hasn't been able to orgasm since the election. They are two strong female characters whose worldview is being challenged by a country that is seemingly defined by sexist and demoralizing views. Women are under attack by the current presidential administration. As such, the show makes a powerful statement in showing the complexity and strength of women throughout this episode. It suggests that women of a certain age are actually magical. They have an understanding of the world that is rare and special. It's something Abbi and Ilana are very curious and envious of. They seek guidance in their older role models. They need to know how to survive when their lives are under attack. As such, it's very fitting that the show plays Trump's name as a curse word. It positions him as this filthy thing that audiences should be banned from hearing for moral reasons. It's such a creative idea. And then, the big montage where Ilana is able to overcome her stress blockage by seeing all of the empowering female role models she looks up to is such a strong moment. This episode highlights the ways women can force each other apart out of fear of becoming undesirable. But it also reveals that the best thing about this world is a group of women who support and enrich the other. That's such a profound and necessary statement to make that this show absolutely nails in the execution. A