Sunday, October 15, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Last Ship,' 'The Mindy Project,' 'SEAL Team' and 'Broad City' (October 8-14)

Various comedy and drama reviews for October 8-14, 2017:

TNT's The Last Ship - Episodes 4.09 "Detect, Deceive, Destroy" and 4.10 "Endgame"
Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.05 "Jeremy & Anna's Meryl Streep Costume Party"
CBS' SEAL Team - Episode 1.03 "Boarding Party"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.04 "Mushrooms"

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 8-14, 2017. Enjoy!

The Last Ship - "Detect, Deceive, Destroy" and "Endgame"
The crew of Nathan James faces a threat that will test the limits of their naval tactics and strategies. Chandler confronts his enemy - and his personal demons - in a final showdown, with the fate of humanity on the line. "Detect, Deceive, Destroy" directed by Lukas Ettlin with story by Jill Blankenship & Onalee Hunter Hughes and teleplay by Onalee Hunter Hughes. "Endgame" written by Hiram Martinez & Ira Parker and directed by Peter Weller.

As I've mentioned on multiple occasions this season, I haven't been a fan of this specific story arc. It just felt very repetitive. It's the show doing things it has done before. But more important than that, it felt like a story that didn't justify airing across ten episodes. The characters just repeated the same things over and over. Velleck became crazy, wanted to control the entire human race, saw his dead son and was super critical of his two remaining children. That's all that there was to this story. In these final two episodes of the season, it all basically became a personal grudge match between the Velleck family and the Nathan James. The fact that the Americans needed to retrieve the seeds to stop the food crisis seemed completely inconsequential to the actual plot. With everything feeling so personal, this finale needed to produce rousing moments where all of that buildup paid off. These two episodes are very technically proficient. It was thrilling to see the Nathan James take down three war ships from Greece. It was surprising to discover that there was a fourth ship. But Giorgio's death was completely meaningless in the end that didn't feel rewarding. It felt weird that Sasha was the one to shoot the fatal bullet for Lucia. She did that without getting any kind of clarity over what happened to Fletcher. That's odd considering how much the show built up that relationship into being something meaningful. And finally, Velleck's death was weirdly framed and made it very confusing. That's extremely troubling because Peter Weller was the one who actually directed it. One moment he's staring off to the island he views as Heaven. The camera cuts away to the protagonists. And then, Velleck is just gone. It's the mystery as to what happened to him. He's clearly died. The framing device just didn't work for me. And finally, this season has had so many references to Greek tragedies. It wasn't effective because the show kept calling attention to that. But this finale really isn't tragic for anyone the audience is suppose to care about. Yes, the helicopter goes down. But that mostly just gives Tex's daughter a codename. And that was apparently an ongoing concern this season that I just completely missed. C+

The Mindy Project - "Jeremy & Anna's Meryl Streep Costume Party"
Jeremy's hosting a party the office is actually excited for! Adding to the intrigue, Mindy invites a handsome stranger who has an unexpected interest in Shulman and Associates. Jody competes with a beautiful doctor after she steals one of his patients. Written by Mackenzie Dohr and directed by Geeta V. Patel

This episode feels like a bit of too little, too late for The Mindy Project. Beverly has just been a character good for a couple of one-liners in each episode. The show has never really shown an interest in telling a story about her personal life. Every description of it would make it seem too crazy to actually portray. And now, the show is playing into that a little bit. It's trying to show the true depth to this character that her co-workers have never wanted to explore. But it's something the show just never decided to do up until this point. It's an intriguing conversation about just playing into people's expectations so they don't expect anything better. But even that angle isn't all that interesting in the execution. It mostly just feels like a story to pad out this final season. Of course, the big costume party in the middle of the episode is a true delight. It's nice to see everyone in a very fitting Meryl Streep costume. And finally, Jody's story is incredibly problematic as well. He has just gotten so repetitive as a character. He's a misogynist in every way. He's off-putting and people question why anyone would be friends with him or seek his medical opinion. Then, it takes the predictable twist of him enjoying offering free health care and forming some romantic tension with Ana Ortiz's character. It's a story the show has told many times. But Jody has never grown even though the show continues to give the perception of that. If he hasn't at this point, it seems doubtful that this new character will bring about any meaningful difference. B-

SEAL Team - "Boarding Party"
Jason and the SEAL team must rescue a group of researchers being held hostage on a ship in the South China Sea. Clay is ranked in the "bottom five" of his class, jeopardizing his future as a SEAL. Written by Spencer Hudnut and directed by Christopher Chulack

At this point in time, I really don't care about the personal lives of any of the main characters. That's disappointing. I want to because the show is spending time in fleshing out this world. It's not just a case-of-the-week story that gets introduced in the cold open and the SEALs race to accomplish as soon as possible. The show is paying attention to the politics of the world and the red tape they have to go through to get the missions approved. It still all ultimately ends in success. Jason complains that they should be in the air already. Once they do arrive, they need to make the approach by sea where the comms are down and they don't get the warning to the army that has arrived at the ship. And then, that's just not a big deal at all. It's perfectly fine for dramatic tension. But it also still feels too simple. It makes it seem like everything goes according to plan right after that plan was completely compromised. But at least that's exciting and interesting. I just can't get into Jason's separation with his wife. There's just no depth to that dynamic. His wife isn't even a character. She's just the traditional wet blanket archetype who complains that he's not a good husband or father. But I don't care about Jason investigating what his friend Nate was doing before his death either. That's clearly going to be a major story that effects Jason on a personal level. But the big reveal in the end means nothing. There's just no reason to care. Meanwhile, it seems like the show is accelerating the relationship between Clay and Stella. It's just moving too quickly. Brian is weirdly talking about them as if they are this grand will-they?/won't-they? romance. It's just been one episode. Stella has no depth and Brian continues to come across as a one note jerk. And yet, they still hook up in the end. C

Broad City - "Mushrooms"
Abbi and Ilana take shrooms and have an eventful trip. Written by Abbi Jacobson and directed by Nicholas Jasenovec

This is such an inspired episode of Broad City. It's easily one of the best episodes the show has ever produced. It's just so inventive and different while still inherently being the show. The series has featured animation before - most notably in the title sequence. But now, it completely defines the world as Abbi and Ilana get high on mushrooms. It doesn't take long for the episode to set up that central premise. Then, it's just so amusing and colorful to watch as the two of them just go throughout the city experiencing it in a new way. They are amazed at what the world has become. It's a visual treat for the audience as well. It's the kind of sequence that will reward repeat viewing because there are so many tiny details sprinkled throughout. The moment in the tunnel and when Abbi and Ilana just become cucumbers are so fantastic. But it's also great to see the lingering effects of this drug as Abbi and Ilana pursue other opportunities as well. Abbi has gotten a new job this season working with Wanda Sykes. It's not surprising that she's called into work while high on mushrooms. But it's also great to see her still do reasonably well and impress her boss. She's on an upward trajectory where her boss wants to have a conversation about her doing more while being supportive once she learns that Abbi is high. And then, it all comes crashing down with the reveal that Abbi squished a cat together in between two doors. That's a horrifying reveal that immediately ends all of this for her. Meanwhile, Ilana is completely in her own head about Lincoln when she should be focused on this sexual situation she has been craving for a long time. She could have sex with a married couple and get to peg the guy. That's huge for her. But she can't follow through because Lincoln is talking to her in many different and strange objects throughout the room. She needs to get him out of her head. Even in the end, that may not be enough. It won't do any good to hurt herself over and over again. But it does make for a number of really fantastic visuals throughout this extraordinary episode. A