Monday, April 2, 2018

REVIEW: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' and 'The Last Man on Earth' (April 1)

Various FOX reviews for April 1, 2018:

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Episode 5.14 "The Box"
The Last Man on Earth - Episode 4.13 "Release the Hounds"

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 FOX for April 1, 2018. Enjoy!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Box"
Written by Luke Del Tredici and directed by Claire Scanlon

"The Box" is one of the most distinct episodes Brooklyn Nine-Nine has ever produced. It's a classic bottle episode that focuses on one story and is set largely in the same physical space. It's an homage to the classic Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Three Men and Adena." But it's also just a parody of so many crime procedurals where the detectives have to interrogate their prime suspect for hours in order to get a confession out of them. It affords Jake and Holt the opportunity to work together in the interrogation room to break their suspect. It's a chance for Holt to get back to the skills he loved utilizing as a detective. It's a chance for Jake to shine and prove to Holt that he truly is one of the precinct's best detectives. Jake is always looking for that approval even though Holt has come to appreciate him for a long time now. In that regard, this is a very familiar structure for the central conflict. The murder suspect is able to pit Jake and Holt against each other because of the tactics they use to get him to break. Holt is the one coming up with all of the tactics and leading the charge. He made the play to make Jake come across as the dumb cop as soon as that became the obvious direction things need to go in. He determines the direction of this interrogation. He doesn't want to lie to the suspect in order to try to get him to confess. He doesn't want to overplay his hand not knowing what the answer will be. Jake goes in with the cocky attitude and is immediately faced with contradictory information that blows up in his face. It's a familiar pattern. And yet, it's so mesmerizing to see in execution now because it is so intense while still in the fun and playful spirit of the show. It's still Jake and Holt working to arrest a killer. But it also has a number of solid comedic beats - like when Holt gets upset about the legitimacy of PhD recipients calling themselves doctor or Holt pointing out how Jake can't be the angry cop because no one would take it seriously. But it also has a pretty straightforward mystery that it needs to play out and resolve appropriately. It makes it a more plot heavy episode. But all of the twists and turns add up in a very entertaining way. It works because the action never breaks away to deal with whatever the rest of the squad is up to. Plus, it's such a rousing moment when Jake is able to use the suspect's own arrogance against him to get the confession. It's him surprising everyone and earning the three "Oh damns" Holt exclaims. It's such a perfect conclusion in an episode that gives Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher and guest star Sterling K. Brown a lot of great material to play with. It's simply the show at its best A

The Last Man on Earth - "Release the Hounds"
Written by Megan Ganz and directed by Steve Day

This season has struggled really finding its groove and being able to kick the story into the next gear of these characters' lives. The addition of Karl really wasn't all that great. And now, the show attempts to find new energy once again by utilizing a time jump. That was very effective at the close of the third season. It helped the show find new energy. And now, another one helps the show deliver its funniest and most effective episode of the season so far. It all comes together through the shared connection of parenting. The addition of children to this ensemble hasn't always been great. But it's also great whenever the show can just be absolutely filthy and distinctive with the world building. Here, Melissa has given Todd the freedom to have a baby with Erica. Of course, they have to get Erica on board with that plan and she is very awkwardly taken aback by it. She is very pleasant in turning them down. But that devastates Todd. This is such a strong showcase episode for Mel Rodriguez. Todd goes through so many emotions. He's happy about the prospects of having a child only to be utterly devastated and depressed later on. The show uses the time jump to show just how long he stays solely focused on this new model train set. It also allows Carol to quickly become pregnant once more. Will Forte and Kristen Schaal dial up their performances so broadly here as Tandy and Carol get so horny for each other. And yet, the show finds a way to manage their energies and make it endearing while still being filthy and ridiculous. The jokes actually work here. They don't always when the show focuses on the extremes of this relationship. But here, it's nice to see two people genuinely in love and willing to do whatever it takes to please the other. It just conveniently leads to another pregnancy just two weeks after Carol gave birth to twins. The two of them having to hide that news from Todd gives the second half some nice energy to it. His reaction of anger and destruction to that news is genuine even though it does ultimately pull him out of his depressive spiral. Plus, Erica coming around on having Todd's baby is a sentimental twist that feels earned because of that one scene with her talking to Dawn about her brother. It's sweet. However, the show then feels the need to ominously warn the audience that some newcomer is about to invade their world yet again - which is too familiar of a twist to increase the stakes. A-