Saturday, November 11, 2017

REVIEW: ABC's 'Fresh Off the Boat,' 'Black-ish,' 'The Mayor' and 'Grey's Anatomy' (November 5-11)

Various reviews from ABC shows for November 5-11, 2017:

ABC's Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 4.06 "A League of Her Own"
ABC's Black-ish - Episode 4.06 "First and Last"
ABC's The Mayor - Episode 1.06 "Will You Accept This Rose?"
ABC's Grey's Anatomy - Episode 14.07 "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"

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 November 5-11, 2017. Enjoy!

Fresh Off the Boat - "A League of Her Own"
After coming out of the closet to Honey and Jessica, Nicole struggles with telling Marvin, fearing that her father will be disappointed in her. Louis wants to manage the Cattleman's Ranch softball team on his own, so Jessica decides to coach the rival team from The Denim Turtle to prove that she is the superior manager. Chaos is sure to ensure when everything gathers for the big game at the Greater Orlando Bar and Restaurant tournament. Written by Amelie Gillette and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

Fresh Off the Boat is doing a phenomenal job in telling Nicole's coming out story. It's giving it the attention it deserves and isn't just throwing it off to the side because she's just a minor character in the scope of the show. She's the chief focus of this episode. It's nice to see the Huang family move to the sidelines in order for the focus to be where it deserves. This is a delicate story that the show is properly exploring all of the complicated and confusing feelings. She understands her sexual identity. But so far, she has only told Eddie. That's a comfort even though he's a bit oblivious when it comes to her actual struggle. She tells Honey and Jessica in the cold open when she unexpectedly finds them at The Denim Turtle. Jessica is a little too oblivious throughout this episode about how women can be gay too. That's a consistent character trait that is a little annoying while still keeping in character. But it's great that the show puts in the effort to show how personal this is for Nicole. She is forced into coming out to Honey and Marvin. She is able to put it into words with Honey and gets that support right away. She has the fear that her father will look at her differently. She doesn't want to change too much in front of him. She respects the relationship they have. And in the end, he doesn't have a perfect reaction. The show does enough to highlight how Nicole is right to worry how he'll react while there also being nothing for her to ultimately worry about. It's so wonderful. Plus, it's still funny in the end too. Marvin proclaiming Nicole's out in reference to the softball game instead of her coming out is wonderful and very amusing. The main story is so strong and heartfelt that it more than makes up for the weird subplots with Louis and Eddie. A-

Black-ish - "First and Last"
Diane experiences a big life event toward becoming a woman and Bow, Ruby, Zoey and Alicia are there to support her. Afraid that he may never be able to beat Junior at basketball again, Dre conducts a psychological warfare on Junior before challenging him to a game. Written by Laura Gutin Peterson and directed by Linda Mendoza

It's so empowering to see a group of five women just sitting around in a living room talking about how difficult and rewarding it can be as a woman. That's just not something that is seen a whole lot. And here, Black-ish tells an entire story about how a woman getting her period is this thing that immediately and drastically changes the world's perception of her. It's ultimately a good thing because she can create life. But it's also a hassle that is strange, unnerving and unexpected as well. It has the power to change things. But it brings these women close together as well. Diane now understands all of this. She may not need Bow's help in understanding the mechanics of what's going on. That's the benefit of a proper sexual education at school. But it's important that she gets that emotional support from her sister, mother and grandmothers. Elsewhere, the stories with the men are a bit more trivial and outwardly comedic. It's nice to see Dre have the fear that his son is about to beat him in basketball and him trying to find a way to get into his head. But it's great for him to have that unexpected reaction of being proud of him instead of absolutely losing it once it finally happens. That ensures that he still towers over him in this family relationship. Meanwhile, it's important to spend time with Jack and how he believes he's not maturing as quickly as Diane after she experiences her first period. They are twins but seem completely different with each passing day. That will ultimately be a good thing. They already have two distinct personalities. But this is a reminder to Jack that he still sees himself as a kid. As such, it's funny when he gets excited about his changing body as well. That's unexpected and very minor. But it's good for a laugh too. B+

The Mayor - "Will You Accept This Rose?"
After going on a date with an old flame with ulterior motives, Courtney realizes that hidden agendas also apply to dating now that he's a public figure. Now he will need T.K. and Jermaine's help to recreate a throwback prom-posal to hopefully get a second chance with someone he truly likes. Reverend Ocho Okoye tries to get a hesitant Dina to join the church choir which leads to a soulful result. Written by Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins and directed by James Griffiths

It's weird that the show wants the audience to be invested in the state of Courtney's relationship with Amber when this is only her second episode. Yes, the date at the top of this episode is perfectly pleasant that highlights their common interests and genuine attraction. But there just isn't a whole lot of context to what ultimately happens. It's mostly an episode that continues to highlight how immature and stunted in his emotional growth Courtney really is. That's perfectly fine as well. He's very slow to realize how the rules of dating have changed now that he is a public figure. All of his actions are being watched with any poor decision having the potential to become a scandal. He seemingly learns that lesson by the end of this episode. And yet, it's a familiar pattern as well. Plus, Amber has the right reaction right away to not want to date Courtney anymore after he goes out on a date with his high school crush. But it's all just part of symmetric joke so that she can have the same response to his prom-posal performance that the girl in high school did. It just really doesn't establish Amber as an independent woman which is strange since she wasn't immediately introduced as a love interest even though that's been the turn in her story with Courtney. Elsewhere, it's great that Val opens up about being married and divorced. That's a surprising twist that should be fun exploring in the future. But it also feels like the show is being way too forceful in wanting to push Courtney and Val together as a couple eventually. And finally, it's great to see Arsenio Hall as the Reverend at Dina's church. But it's not really a consistent story that makes much sense. Yes, Dina's big performance in the end is strong. It's just the inevitable outcome. C+

Grey's Anatomy - "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"
After a roller coaster car falls off the track at the county fair, the doctors at Grey Sloan tend to patients who spark memories about ghosts from their past. Written by Krista Vernoff and directed by Debbie Allen

This is the 300th episode of the show. That's a remarkable achievement that not many shows actually achieve. Based on the ratings, it seems like Grey's Anatomy will still be around for awhile as well. This hour was talked up a bunch because of the special designation. And yet, it strangely feels like too much of a typical episode of the show as of late. There is only one moment that is all that emotionally rewarding. When Meredith looks up and sees her mother cheering for her after she has won the Harper Avery award, it's very meaningful and poignant. It's in keeping with how much of this episode is an homage to the past. And yet, the actual execution only flirts with these memories of the show's history. It doesn't actually bring something back that actually becomes a significant story for the characters. Kate Burton is the big guest star from the early years who appears here. It's just a little cameo as well. It's effective. But this hour is a bit too cute with the case where Meredith, Alex, Richard and Bailey are hit with reminders of Izzie, George and Cristina. It's mostly just a lot of talk about the past without it really ever swelling to something emotionally significant in the present. Yes, Alex has a nice moment in sharing his dream of the life Izzie now has. But it's a case of the show doing more wish-fulfillment than actually saying what is definitively going on with that character through a return appearance. Meanwhile, Bailey is too caught up in a plot with Ben that is just setting up the new spinoff with him as a firefighter. Yes, she says that she cried all of her tears for George a long time ago. But that's basically it. And then, Cristina interacts with the story only through a phone call where the audience doesn't hear her side of the conversation. Yes, there are nice callbacks to the grand history of the show. But it's mostly just a bunch of references for the longtime fans who appreciate everything that has happened and knows the significance of it even though it's not really doing anything new or surprising for the characters in the present. It's still a fine episode. It's just not the show at its absolute best. B