Friday, March 23, 2018

REVIEW: ABC's 'Fresh Off the Boat,' 'Black-ish' and 'Grey's Anatomy' (March 19-23)

Various ABC reviews for March 19-23, 2018:

Fresh Off the Boat - Episode 4.19 "King in the North"
Black-ish - Episode 4.16 "Things Were Different Then"
Grey's Anatomy - Episode 14.16 "Caught Somewhere in Time"

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 ABC from March 19-23, 2018. Enjoy!

Fresh Off the Boat - "King in the North"
Written by Matt Kuhn and directed by Erin O'Malley

There are moments where it feels like this episode is a little overstuffed with all of the ongoing plot elements from the season that needed to be addressed and resolved - Louis' ownership of the restaurant, Jessica's novel, Honey's pregnancy, Nicole coming out, etc. It's awkward because the season was cut short by a few episodes in order to make way for other comedies on ABC's schedule. That's lame and makes it seem like this could potentially be the final episode of Fresh Off the Boat depending on how those replacements perform. It's still a pretty solid finale. It offers a number of really sweet moments in addition to being completely silly and absurd. It's great to just see the awkwardness that comes from Emery and Evan fighting over sharing a room while Louis not knowing how to react to the news that Grandma wants to move out. That story culminating in the three of them looking out their windows and singing a song together is just so random but really fantastic to watch. Meanwhile, the Jessica story probably goes over the line of her being a really broad and selfish character. And yet, it's great that the show doesn't rush to the conclusion of Honey's pregnancy just to have a new baby in the finale. Plus, there's just the great resolution of Jessica getting a quote from Stephen King to help sell her novel. That fuels that fantastic final beat of Louis wrapping up the season by noting the success the family has had in Orlando. And finally, the show once again shines when it focuses on Nicole's sexuality. That has been a strong story all season long. It's great that it has such a prime focus in this finale. It's great to see Eddie continue to go to bat for Nicole. He's willing to fight and help her be her true self in the world. It's a fight that will have more discrimination now because she is challenging the gender norms of the world. But it's an empowering moment as well that highlights true friendship. That's what Eddie has been this year. He steps up for Nicole. They still don't get into the dance. They still are coming into their own as individuals who know how to take a stand. But it's such a simple and effective story as well that makes just enough progress for the two of them to really feel good about what they accomplish. B

Black-ish - "Things Were Different Then"
Written by Courtney Lilly and directed by Todd Holland

Because Laurence Fishburne is only a recurring guest star, it can sometimes feel like Pops appears and disappears at random. In the beginning, it was important that he was living with the family and causing problems for Dre and Bow. But now, that role mostly belongs to Ruby. The show has been perfectly clear that she lives with the family and has a role in their everyday lives. And now, the show seems to be playing into the flightiness of Pops. He has always just been more interested in doing whatever he views as fun. His actions can never be bad because he has a perfectly good explanation for doing them. As such, he doesn't feel like he needs to apology for the way he raised his family. He sees their success as his success at being a good father. And now, Dre does have a better appreciation of that. He doesn't want to throw his father a birthday party for turning 65. It's a milestone achievement because it's Pops beating the odds. The show is very frank about the life expectancy of black men in this country. Pops feels the need to celebrate. But it's also a time to reflect on the life that was. Dre is starting to see his father's actions when he was a child from a new perspective. He now sees a man who gambled a lot for his family. He cared about his possessions but only because of the great sacrifice that came from getting them. Dre can appreciate that even if Junior questions the legitimacy of these farcical stories. And yes, the show does get pretty silly with the depiction of the past. Of course, it's also clearly a lot of fun for Fishburne. It's still great that the show doesn't really age down the actors so that they can play the younger versions of themselves. It's just good enough to put Fishburne in a ridiculous wig while he has fun hitting people with nunchucks. Meanwhile, the subplot with Bow, Diane and Jack is a little lighter. It's again Bow trying to give herself fully to her family even at the expense of her private, personal time. But it comes to a nice, neat conclusion as well that feels good. B+

Grey's Anatomy - "Caught Somewhere in Time"
Written by Jalysa Conway and directed by Nicole Rubio

The surgical innovation contest has been a significant story over the last few episodes. And now, it's time for the doctors to start testing their new techniques in actual surgeries to see if all the hard work has paid off. First up is Jackson and Catherine with their new vaginoplasty. It's a surgery built up as revolutionary. And yet, it's treated throughout this episode as completely ordinary. The surgery itself seems to take a back seat to the family drama of Catherine and Richard discovering that Jackson and Maggie are dating. It's the show prioritizing the melodrama over the medicine. That's not completely surprising. It just makes the actual surgery feel less important - which probably isn't the desired effort for these various projects for the contest. That appears to be the major theme of the time traveler story as well. This astronaut is an idol of Bailey's. And yet, she seems crazy for wanting to build a time machine. She wants to go to the future. It's mostly a story to remind everyone that they need to focus on the future of medicine and less on the uncertainty of past actions. Meanwhile, Amelia and Alex get another prime candidate for their new procedure after Arizona notices that the son of her patient is laughing all of the time. It's a heartbreaking story mostly because Arizona brings Sofia to work with her. It's always surprising to see just how grown up the kids on this show already are. But it's also just so sweet to see that moment of Arizona appreciating all that she has right now. Meanwhile, April continues to spiral in her tragic arc. She pushes the interns extremely hard during their trauma certification. It serves as a reminder of what her trauma certification was like all those seasons ago. Owen was leading the charge then too. But now, he needs to be the voice of reason to know when to stop pushing the young doctors. April continues to push back against a cruel and unjust world. And again, this story needs to start arriving at a point sooner than later. And finally, Owen decides to go to Teddy to try and make that relationship work because he no longer has anything keeping him from doing so. It's just a story that makes him seem incredibly dim because it takes Amelia pointing out that Owen has had so many failed relationships because of the unresolved situation with Teddy. When Teddy showed up at the start of this season, the spark between her and Owen was lovely and genuine. So, I do support this move even though it's wrapped up in an annoying plot here. B-