Saturday, November 17, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Kominsky Method' - Sandy Goes to the Doctor and Worries About Test Results in 'Chapter 3: A Prostate Enlarges'

Netflix's The Kominsky Method - Episode 1.03 "Chapter 3: A Prostate Enlarges"

While Sandy contends with a worsening prostate problem and conflict between his students, Norman deals with his troubled daughter, Phoebe.

In 2018, it makes no sense to provide full-length reviews of each individual episode for shows released all at once on the streaming services. Sure, there are some shows out there that value the power of the episode. They do make a point in differentiating each episode to ensure it's not just one big slog to the finish. However, the ability to watch the entire season at one's own viewing pace has largely changed the way we consume and discuss these shows. So, some brief summary thoughts are really all that's actually necessary with these seasons. As such, here are my latest thoughts on the next episode of Netflix's The Kominsky Method.

"Chapter 3: A Prostate Enlarges" was written by Chuck Lorre & Al Higgins and directed by Donald Petrie

Throughout these opening episodes, it has become clear that there are a lot of disposal parts to The Kominsky Method. The bond at the heart of the show between Sandy and Norman is strong. Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas are delivering some varied and nuanced performances. However, their acting can't overcome the lame and formulaic storytelling around them. There is specificity when the story centers on Sandy and Norman as aging men who have to deal with their changing bodies and the death of loved ones. That is special because it's not something that is seen in this medium a lot. Sandy spends a significant portion of this episode just going to the bathroom. It's absolutely crazy and ridiculous. But it's also the show shining a light on how this can signal a potentially more serious issue for him. He has to go to the doctor in order to get his prostate checked out. Sure, the show still opts for the broad humor of how uncomfortable it is for the doctor to examine the size of his prostate. It's even more visual than most shows opt for with this particular story even though it features no nudity whatsoever. Plus, it's going to remain an ongoing concern for Sandy. He has to wait a couple of days to get the test results back to see if he should be worried about cancer. He is choosing to rely on his friend to get through this as well. Norman has been through these problems. So, he is a comforting presence who can help ease Sandy through it. Sandy hopes to be the same person that Norman can rely on with the changing nature of his life. Norman's grief over Eileen's death is very real. It takes on a more fantastical element with him having full-blown conversations with her now even though she's gone. He is still holding onto their relationship even though there are a ton of women at the funeral throwing themselves all over him. Of course, it's always nice to see Ann-Margret pop up in random shows. But the introduction of Norman's daughter, Phoebe, is just inherently problematic. She is a middle-aged woman who is basically acting like a spoiled teenager. That just seems so strange. Yes, addiction can hit anyone. It will remain a struggle for whomever suffers from that disease. That's a subject that Chuck Lorre has already amply covered in Mom. This is a completely different story because Norman is at a loss for what to do. It just doesn't seem like he has any handling on the situation whatsoever. He indulges Phoebe but doesn't really expect much from her. That's tragic but there's no real clear sign if the audience should expect more from her. It's actually a pretty dreadful use of Lisa Edelstein. She mostly just gets to do some broad physical comedy. But again, she's too old for this specific story. And finally, the acting class has no purpose at all. It gives Sandy a more fulfilling life. He has somewhere to be. He's not just at his home seeing his best days through the rear-view mirror. And yet, he doesn't show any interest to the very real and important discussions happening amongst his students about what is appropriate in this industry and what isn't. Sandy is too worried about his own problems to care about anyone else's. That could prove to the audience that he is an inherently selfish character. But it mostly reads as the show having complete disdain for anyone under the age of 50 and the ways that they are trying to change the world. That's just completely isolating and demeaning.