Saturday, November 18, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Mindy Project,' 'Chicago P.D.,' 'Broad City' and 'Mom' (November 12-18)

Various comedy and drama reviews for November 12-18, 2017:

Hulu's The Mindy Project - Episode 6.10 "It Had to Be You"
NBC's Chicago P.D. - Episode 5.07 "Care Under Fire"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.08 "House-Sitting"
CBS' Mom - Episode 5.03 "A Seafaring Ancestor and a Bloomin' Onion"

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 November 12-18, 2017. Enjoy!

The Mindy Project - "It Had to Be You"
Mindy's fertility practice is in danger and Annette's upcoming surgery looms. While Mindy and Danny wait, Mindy attends Morgan and Tamra's wedding, where she and the rest of the Shulman gang try to find their own happy endings. Written by Matt Warburton & Mindy Kaling and directed by Michael Spiller

It's been clear for awhile that I haven't been enjoying the final season of The Mindy Project. It seemed like the show had exhausted all of the ideas it had for subverting the romantic comedy genre. It was building to an inevitable conclusion that was just a little too obvious. And yet, "It Had to Be You" brings the show to a nice full-circle moment that understands the journey the characters have been on. In the series premiere, Mindy was making inappropriate comments at weddings and driving bikes into pools. In the series finale, she manages to avoid the pool in order to make her big run to the man of her dreams in a big romantic gesture. It's this elaborate sequence that plays into the conventions of the genre. And yet, the show excels because it doesn't reward that behavior. It plays things more true to life in Danny being completely oblivious to the grand gesture Mindy has just done. Seeing them instead reignite their spark over a much simpler moment where he helps her get her arm out of a vending machine is more true to them as a couple. The two of them watching TV together is a strong way to close out the series. It's the two of them recognizing that they are interested in pursuing a relationship again. It's not some big romantic reunion where the show is forcing them to get married immediately even though it hasn't earned that moment - like it does with Morgan and Tamra. It is instead acknowledging that the two have changed over time. In order for that to work, the scene where Danny invests in Later Baby needs to be seen to prove that Danny actually has changed because the episodes leading up to this moment haven't done that. And again, it's respectful that they are just interested in pursuing romance once more. They still may not ultimately work out in the end. They may break up in a month. But it's the conclusion the show always wanted. At least, it is still charming because it's so low key in the end despite the inevitability of it all. B

Chicago P.D. - "Care Under Fire"
In the wake of several gang-related child abductions, Intelligence must race against time to find a kidnapped boy. Owing to their swiftness and military precision, the team scours the VA records and tracks the suspects to a former Army Ranger. With his previous experience as a Ranger, Halstead convinces Voight to send him undercover to try and get information from inside. Written by Gwen Sigan and directed by Lily Mariye

This season of Chicago P.D. has pushed several characters to some really dark places. That's perfectly fine as well. It's highlighting the severe cost of doing this job over a long period of time. It just feels like life is terrible and compromised for everyone in Intelligence with no one really having anything hopeful or good in their lives at the moment. That's slightly problematic. And yet, the show is finally digging deeper into Jay's military background and the PTSD he still experiences. The show touched on this briefly in the past with Jay's relationship with Mouse. But this is the most overt showcase of those issues to date. And yes, it is very manipulative. It continues to show that Jay's issues are rising up once more following the sudden departure of Lindsay. The only person who seems to notice that he's not doing well is Upton. That seems mostly generated to ensure that she replaces Lindsay in every aspect of Jay's life. That's really forced and unnecessary. He needs someone unbiased who is able to call him out when he is being inappropriate in the field and needs to reign it in. Of course, this is a show that is more and more embracing the corrupt tactics these characters do on a daily basis as well as their cover-ups. That's spiraling up into something with Ruzek and Denny. But that's still mostly setup without any genuine concern that Voight's future is in any jeopardy even though Mykelti Williamson continues to sell the material well. And yet, this episode is focused in a strong way while being a good spotlight for Jay and his resurfacing issues. Sure, it also ends on him making a horrible decision in continuing to keep his cover to be with Luis' sister even after the case is closed. In the moment, that didn't seem like setup for an ongoing story. But the press surrounding this episode says that it is. So, that's not all that effectively told. But it should be interesting to see how committed the show is to exploring these issues with Jay and perhaps finally getting him the help he needs. B-

Broad City - "House-Sitting"
Abbi, Ilana, Jaime and Lincoln house-sit for the Strands. Ilana and Lincoln define their relationship. Abbi has a Bumble date with a man from her past. Written by Kevin Barnett & Josh Rabinowitz and directed by Abbi Jacobson

"House-Sitting" features a rather simple sitcom premise where Abbi and Ilana are simply house-sitting and things get out-of-control after they invite some friends over. The power and humor of the episode comes from the simple joys they find in this mansion in the city. They are just as enthralled by the washing machine as they are by the bidet in the bathroom. That's very amusing and more than justifies the show repeating that sequence multiple times. It builds up the significance only to then have an epic payoff in the end with the fire and Heidi not even caring about this luxury that she has. That's some pretty insightful commentary. Elsewhere, it's fascinating to see how mature Ilana and Lincoln are treating their new relationship. Ilana doesn't want to become the tired, old married couple who are together forever. That terrifies her. She and Lincoln are able to have an honest and frank conversation about it. The two of them finding a solution that works for them proves that their reunion as a couple is more than just the show returning to its status quo. It still means something because their relationship has changed over the years just like the characters have. And finally, the only reason this episode doesn't quite work is the Abbi story with her seducing her former high school teacher. This is a very sex positive and empowering show. The best episodes are frequently about how adventurous Abbi and Ilana are in regards to sex. But this story just misses the mark in a really off-putting way. The jokes about teachers jerking off to their students just don't work in a way that can overcompensate just how gross and icky that they are. The show has awareness that they are gross and inappropriate. Abbi doesn't ultimately sleep with her former teacher. It's amusing that Jaime is in the room as well when that goes down. But again, the resolution just doesn't work with everything else that is going on this week. B

Mom - "A Seafaring Ancestor and a Bloomin' Onion"
Christy discovers she and her younger classmate, Cooper, make a good team both in and out of the classroom. Bonnie steps up when a newly sober Natasha fears she can't handle motherhood. Directed by James Widdoes with story by Susan McMartin & Anne Flett-Giordano and teleplay by Nick Bakay, Sheldon Bull & Britté Anchor

In the main story with Christy, the show is definitely going for that cute joke where the characters and audience realize that both Christy and Cooper live with their moms. In the beginning, they are played as polar opposites. She's the older student who knows how to put in the work while he's the cocky millennial. It's not surprising that they hookup. It's where the story is headed. But it all seems in service of that final joke. There's nothing bad about that premise. There's no bad stigma attached to the two of them living with their mothers. It's just something that is true about them. That's nice while not really establishing this dynamic as something the audience should be aware of on an ongoing basis. Things are much more personal when it comes to Bonnie helping Natasha out in renting her an apartment. It could be the start of a story where Bonnie gets in trouble for doing this under the table. Natasha needs this to get Emily back but can't pay upfront. Bonnie is more than accommodating because she knows how difficult it is to get back on one's feet after getting sober. She and Christy want to help Natasha. It's important to see that scene where Bonnie is actually being a good sponsor and helping Natasha through the urge to drink again. But it's also great to see those moments where Jill is actually helping Natasha with Emily. Jill loves this teen girl so much. She doesn't want to let go. She thinks it's ridiculous that Natasha can get Emily back so easily. But in the end, she's still remaining a part of her life. It's important to see Jill actually caring about another person. That should be a big deal that is perhaps a little lost at the end of the episode as well. But it also proves that this storyline is still going to remain important for many of the characters this season. B