Thursday, March 8, 2018

REVIEW: NBC's 'Chicago Med,' 'Superstore,' 'Will & Grace' and 'Champions' (March 5-9)

Various NBC reviews for March 5-9, 2018:

Chicago Med - Episode 3.11 "Folie à Deux"
Superstore - Episode 3.14 "Safety Training"
Will & Grace - Episode 9.13 "Sweatshop Annie & the Annoying Baby Shower"
Champions - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

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 March 5-9, 2018. Enjoy!

Chicago Med - "Folie à Deux"
Written by Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider and directed by David Rodriguez

This mostly feels like a transitional episode. The show is past the halfway point of the season. And now, it's feeling the need to set up some new stories or pay off some things that have been building for awhile. And so, there is the introduction of Michel Gill as Sarah's father. This has been such a rough and busy season for Sarah. And now, she's faced with the surprising return of her father who hasn't contacted her in years. Part of that may be her mother keeping letters from him. But the show basically confirms later on that he's planning on her taking care of him during his declining health. Dr. Charles knows the truth but may not be able to share it due to patient confidentiality. Elsewhere, Connor and Bekker finally kiss. That moment has been a long time coming. It's such a familiar story of two rivals competing to prove their superiority eventually becoming romantically involved. The show was telegraphing this twist for awhile. Now, it comes with the added pressure of a new competition between the two. It should just be interesting to see if this is a relationship that is bound to last or will burn out quickly. Bekker still doesn't really exist as a character outside of this potential relationship. So, I'm not all that invested in it. Meanwhile, the show continues to give Natalie some "Will Halstead" moments. She's being a bit more forceful with patients and their families when they are making stupid decisions. I'm not so sure that's a good thing. Again, she's completely in the right. Vaccinations are critical. The refusal to have them done can lead to life-threatening conditions for anyone susceptible. But does that justify her behavior? It's much more palatable than whenever Will got self-righteous. But the show is selling that as the two of them being perfect for each other. And yet, that still seems like Natalie settling for Will because the show demands she does. Finally, it's surprising how little Choi and April have to do with the big medical case that they bring into the hospital. They are dealing with squabbling neighbors. And yet, it's mostly Choi's job to update Charles on some of the medical details and a little background information. It's mostly a story for Charles and Will which is a little odd. B-

Superstore - "Safety Training"
Written by Bridget Kyle & Vicki Luu and directed by Rebecca Asher

This is an incredibly strong episode because it continues the season's trajectory of just really pushing forward with some major plot developments. Last week Amy admitted that she had a crush on Jonah. Now, she's trying to be okay with him dating Kelly by seeming like she doesn't have a problem with Kelly. Of course, this episode also points out that Kelly isn't good at this job at all. She's basically had no training. People can get hurt because of that incompetence - as they do here. Amy is willing to overlook some major issues just to appear friendly even though she's Kelly's boss as well. As such, it's fun seeing Amy get treated as the one who doesn't know the proper safety protocols. But it's also thrilling to watch Amy try to justify her hatred towards Kelly with it eventually backfiring on her with the entire staff watching the video of her and Jonah kissing during the hurricane. Now, it's incredulous that that video would be a part of this software system that Dina conveniently can't figure out. And yet, who cares about that because this crush is now out in the open. It can no longer be a secret. That means the narrative will need to openly address what is or isn't going to happen between them very soon. That is very thrilling. It's also exciting and somewhat surprising to see Mateo come out to Jeff as an undocumented worker. They are caught up in a story of Mateo not being able to take any money from corporate after he gets injured at work because of the background check involved. His illegal status is ruining so much of his life and happiness. Living in openness about it may not make things any better. But it's definitely played for the hopefulness of it leading to a reunion between Mateo and Jeff. Finally, the story with Marcus and Garrett is just silly and fun. It has no longterm payoff like the other stories of the season. But it's also potentially establishing something new and great too. Sure, Marcus' idea for breast milk cheese isn't great. But it should also be very interesting to see if Garrett keeps his word about one day hurting Marcus so that he can get the money to finance it. Or perhaps he'll be completely fine letting Marcus live in that terror of the unknown forever. A

Will & Grace - "Sweatshop Annie & the Annoying Baby Shower"
Written by John Quaintance and directed by James Burrows

This episode has a solid message in the A-story about women needing to empower each other and not feel like they are in a competition or made to feel less than because of their life choices. And yet, that message is muddled by the end simply because of how much story the show is trying to cram into this episode. Yes, Will and Grace occupy the same physical space. But they are in completely different stories. The same is also true of Jack and Karen. They resolve things by combining their two stories. But there is just no point to either of those subplots. There's just no meaning to it. It makes it seem like an appearance from Jennifer Lopez as herself is nothing more than a stunt. But there's absolutely no reason for Jennifer Lopez to be in this episode. She can be a very funny actress. The show sets up a punchline for her with her playing the corpse to show Jack how it's done. But again, there's no real reason for any of this to be happening except to remind the audience that Jennifer Lopez has a show on NBC as well that will be returning for its third season as some point. Meanwhile, Karen's story is essentially nothing but her popping pills and drinking alcohol while watching a group of kids. That's irresponsible with her turning the kids into little workers for her. That being treated as a punchline instead of reckless behavior just seems wrong. Things are much more successful when it comes to Will and Grace's stories. But again, they suffer because they don't have the amount of time to actually flourish into something. Yes, Grace has that great speech in the end proving why she believes in female empowerment and why she frequently struggles with connecting to people her own age. But it's still fundamentally a story built around her writing her mean thoughts down only for those notes to be discovered and read aloud during this baby shower. Meanwhile, Will's story is mostly setting up a potential arc for him in the future. He's reminiscing about a past relationship. He decides to call Michael again because he realizes he's not as fulfilled and happy as he would like to be. Him admitting that to himself is huge personal growth. But it also feels rushed. C+

Champions - "Pilot"
Written by Charlie Grandy & Mindy Kaling and directed by Michael Spiller

This is very much a premise pilot establishing Vince, Matthew and Michael living together. As such, there's a fair amount of exposition. But it's also surprising to see just how light on its feet and fun the show already is. It is already confident with its humor and the amount of pop culture references it drops. The casting of the three leads is strong as well. Of course, there are a number of plot developments that don't really seem to go anywhere. Priya drops Michael off at his father's gym. She has to return to work in Cleveland the next day. But the next day comes and she's driving back to New York to get Michael to his audition - a deadline she can't possibly make. And yet, no update is really given as to what happens to her after she talks to Vince on the phone where he promises to get Michael to the audition. That's weird. Plus, Vince selling the gym and not knowing how to tell Matthew is mostly a story that drops off. It's enough to establishing a pattern of Vince abandoning his responsibilities. He inherited this gym from his father after he died. Matthew is incredibly close to his brother. Vince is doing this behind his brother's back. It's so destructive when Matthew learns the truth. But it's also established in the end that Vince, Michael and Matthew will be living in the apartment and still running the gym. So, does that deal just not go through even though Vince signed all of the paperwork? That's strange. And yet, the chemistry of the three leads is enough to overcome these issues. Being a father will force Vince to take more responsibility in his life. He's making up for lost time by really being supportive during Michael's audition. He gets him there even when Michael is ready to quit. That shows that Michael is a little like his father after all. Of course, he also seems much more bright and aware of the world than his new guardians are as well. Matthew is the sweet and lovable idiot. That's a familiar character type that still works here. Plus, Vince has no idea that Freddie Mercury was gay. An amusing start for what could be a fun show - as soon as it figures out its week-to-week plot mechanics. B