Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Med,' 'Superstore,' 'The Good Place,' 'Will & Grace,' 'Great News' and 'Chicago Fire' (January 7-13)

Various NBC reviews for January 7-13, 2018:

Chicago Med - Episode 3.06 "Ties That Bind"
Superstore - Episode 3.09 "Golden Globes Party"
The Good Place - Episode 2.10 "Best Self"
Will & Grace - Episode 9.09 "There's Something About Larry"
Great News - Episode 2.11 "Competing Offer"
Chicago Fire - Episode 6.08 "The Whole Point of Being Roommates"

In 2018, 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, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on NBC from January 2-6, 2018. Enjoy!

Chicago Med - "Ties That Bind"
Ethan attempts to diagnose a man with no symptoms. Sarah's paranoia goes to the extreme when she uses pepper spray on an aggressive patient. Will treats a young couple willing to sacrifice anything in order to have a baby. Natalie must inform a woman that she was sterilized as a young girl without her knowledge. Goodwin and Maggie devise a way to persuade paramedics to bring in more patients. Written by Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider & Gabriel L. Feinberg and directed by Valerie Weiss

There are some weird morals on display in this episode's stories. Natalie's story with the mom who had her daughter's tubes tied without her consent is one of the most twisted and horrifying stories this show has ever done. And yet, it strangely feels like the show was required to end on a hopeful note of those two perhaps being able to work it out after the truth is out there. That just feels like the wrong ending. Then, Sarah is quick to use her new pepper spray on a patient. She is rightfully suspended for attacking someone in the hospital. And then, Choi (and the show) is making the appeal that she didn't do anything wrong because her action led to the discovery of what was ailing this man. That mostly feels like a way to have her keep her job despite this tragic spiral she is currently on. Meanwhile, Robin's departure from Chicago was inevitable the moment Mekia Cox joined Once Upon a Time. Her exit is still a painful decision she has to make. But it also highlights how absolutely controlling and dominating a personality Connor can be. He's just so aggressive with Dr. Charles and Sarah. It's off-putting in a way that really makes the character hard to like. And then, the audience is just suppose to find it amusing that Maggie and Sharon are trying to make Chicago Med more enjoyable for the paramedics. That feels like comic relief even though it should be taken more seriously given the financial component and its impact on saving lives. B-

Superstore - "Golden Globes Party"
When Amy throws a party to prove how great she's doing post-divorce, she's forced to enlist Dina and Jonah's help. Dina ends up making the ultimate sacrifice. Glenn and his wife, Jerusha, are forced to conduct some personal business at Amy's home. Written by Vanessa Ramos and directed by Victor Nelli Jr.

Are viewing parties of the Golden Globes amongst office co-workers really a thing? It seems more like something that happens on a sitcom on NBC because the network airs that specific telecast. It's also just a convenient excuse to get everyone from work at Amy's house. It's an episode that highlights how poor she is doing in her personal life. It's an ongoing conversation whether her life is in pieces or not. She is trying to desperately prove that it isn't even though she continually proves how much she still doesn't know about living alone. That's a profound subject that only works because she has friends in Dina and Jonah who are trying their best to ensure she succeeds. They want the best for her. In fact, everyone in the store does. Jonah and Dina are the only ones actively helping her. Glenn is more concerned about getting his wife pregnant. I never thought the audience would ever meet Jerusha because of how ridiculous Glenn's descriptions of their relationship frequently are. As such, it's a little bit of a letdown but that's only because Glenn has a much more personal story this season of wanting a biological child. And then, Kelly is more concerned about fitting in with her fellow co-workers. She worries about it only to have such a casual and easy invitation later on. Again, these characters stress so much about what each other thinks. But the true greatness comes from the quiet moments where they can just accept the help and friendship. B+

The Good Place - "Best Self"
Michael finds himself in a bind. Eleanor sparks an idea that has Chidi, Tahani, Jason and even Janet laying their feelings on the line. Written by Tyler Straessle and directed by Julie Anne Robinson

The Good Place is a high-concept comedy with some significant special effects. And yet, it's such a successful, funny and complex show because of its characters and their relationships. Last week was all about the destruction of the neighborhood and the humans trying to find a way out. This week it's just a simple episode of the four humans, Michael and Janet just enjoying their last remaining free time together. Yes, the air balloon that won't take them to the real Good Place could be seen as the latest way Michael may actually still be torturing the humans. But it's more nuanced than that now. The audience has accepted that Michael has changed and cares about the humans. That story also forces them to contemplate whether or not they truly are the best versions of themselves. Are they truly worthy of entry in the real Good Place? Or have they just been kidding themselves this entire time? It becomes an episode that is mostly these characters just talking to each other. It's a calm and quiet episode. It's peaceful before the chaotic storm that's coming. They have been bonded together because of this experience. They are willing to do whatever it takes to change their fates. That now includes trying to get to a portal in the Bad Place headquarters to plead their case to a judge. That's very exciting and gives the characters a new mission. But it also feels like the closing of a significant chapter in the show's life because Michael's "Good Place" neighborhood is completely wiped from existence. Everyone is saying goodbye as they embark on this dangerous new mission. It may all fail. But it sure is powerful and profound seeing how united these six characters are as they face the unknown. A

Will & Grace - "There's Something About Larry"
Will and Grace's old friend Larry decides he's in love with Will. On Jack's first day as a Lyft driver, he hits his wacky neighbor Val. Karen steps in to bail out Jack, but then needs Jack to bail her out. Written by Alex Herschlag and directed by James Burrows

This creative team is way too amused by the idea that the show is a romantic comedy where the two leads are never going to become a couple because Will is gay and Grace is straight. This is the second episode in a row where the main plot basically boils down to someone propositioning Will and Grace for a threesome. That's just so awful. I didn't enjoy it last week when it was Nick Offerman making the offer. And it's even more awkward and lazy with Tim Bagley doing it. It may even be more problematic here because Bagley actually played this role on the original show. Again, I have no context for that except for looking up the show's credits on IMDB and such. But I just have no idea why the show would tell this story back-to-back other than to highlight how Will and Grace actually hate each other. Seriously, it doesn't seem like the two of them get along at all! Is the audience suppose to view them in business together as a healthy thing? If so, the season is failing spectacularly at that. It wants the audience to view that business as a success while also making us wonder how Will and Grace could have possibly survived for this long based on their current behavior. It's frustrating while not being funny. The subplot with Karen, Jack and Molly Shannon's Val is fine. The bit with Grace having copied a key is pretty funny. But that's basically the only compliment I can deliver to this episode. C-

Great News - "Competing Offer"
When "The Breakdown" staff finds themselves embroiled in a lawsuit with eccentric billionaire Fenton Pelt, Chuck is convinced he can solve the problem. But when Chuck's attempts to save the show backfire, he enlists the gang's help to pull off an elaborate heist. After realizing that she has feelings for Greg, Katie is determined not to make a move on her unavailable boss. Her intentions are put to the test when Diana St. Tropez demands that the two spend the night together fact-checking a story. Written by Ashley Wigfeld and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller

This episode is introducing a lot of various plots that are going to be important to the season's end game - including this new lawsuit against "The Breakdown" and Carol getting a competing offer as a production assistant. Both of those stories are quite amusing as well. It allows for Jim Rash to just show up in a completely ridiculous role. Plus, it's great to see Carol actually have to take this new job offer seriously if she genuinely wants a career in this field. But this episode truly sparks when it comes to Katie and Greg. Carol has known that the two of them like each other for awhile now. They've been kept apart because of Greg's girlfriend. Meeting her last week contextualized just how wrong it would be for the two of them to get together. But it's also so amusing to see how the universe wants them to kiss while they keep pulling away. The heating breaks, the two move their night of work to Carol's house and Katie drinks a ton of milk to irritate her body. But none of it is effective. Sure, it's extremely gross to see the two kiss right after Katie threw up. But it's also really funny. It's an awkward start to their relationship but it was always going to be complex and complicated. And now, the two have to figure out what this actually means. A-

Chicago Fire - "The Whole Point of Being Roommates"
After saving a young girl, Dawson is forced to make a tough decision when she finds out the girl's father is addicted to painkillers. Herrmann loses his cool and gets into an altercation with a police officer after responding to a call. Otis and Cruz are on a mission to find out who Brett is dating. Boden is skeptical when Donna's brother Julian unexpectedly comes to town. Written by Jamilia Daniel and directed by Stephen Cragg

Otis has suddenly become the most annoying and off-putting character in this show. It's absolutely despicable that he keeps trying to insert himself into Brett's life while outing the intimate details of her dating life to the rest of the firehouse. It's cruel and mean. And it's also played as a joke. That's the worst quality of all. The show is basically encouraging this behavior because Otis is just seen as the fun, comic-relief character. He's not. His behavior is wrong but it's glorified as the title for this episode. That's just bad. It's only a minor part of the episode too. Brett's story with Antonio is quite good. She's trying to prove that she has matured and can handle the realities of this relationship. It may just be the show repeating past behavior. But it's performed quite well here. Similarly, Gabby's story is really strong as well. It's awkward in that it seems to be setting up communication issues between her and Casey. That's not really earned or all that effective. But it's empowering to see her show an interest in this kid who is afraid of being turned over to the foster system. Meanwhile, Boden's story mostly relies on the audience's awareness of certain tropes like the brother who swings into town looking for money. It's just not all that inspired as an inversion of that familiar concept. B-