Sunday, May 23, 2021

REVIEW: 'Duncanville' - Duncan Shifts Power with His Father and Jack Offers Complete Respect to Him in 'Duncan's New Word'

FOX's Duncanville - Episode 2.02 "Duncan's New Word"

Duncan says the one thing no kid should ever say to their dad, which shifts their power dynamic and forces Jack to confront his own father. Kimberly and Jing have a window to do whatever they want, as Annie and Jack deal with Duncan's issue.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of FOX's Duncanville.

"Duncan's New Word" was written by Mike Scully & Julie Thacker Scully and directed by Jake Hollander

FOX was ultimately smart in kicking off the new season of Duncanville with its first two episodes on the same night. The premiere highlighted the charm of a Parks and Recreation reunion. It was sweet and sentimental for those aware of that fact. However, this episode better spotlights the comedic sensibility that developed across the first season. The charm drove the premiere. The comedy propels this episode forward. That highlights the many ways in which these characters have been fleshed out. The world can still expand a bit more. But the show is still finding new things of value and interest within the core Harris family. Everyone expects so little from Duncan. Even some basic responsibilities are a burden to him. And yet, it's amusing that he is a terrible driver. That is a consistent recurring joke. One that goes to some extreme places. They are earned though. He drives straight into a train twice. He and the family survive both times. At first, it's a terrifying brush with death. In the end, it's an exciting venture fueled by adrenaline that father and son can't let go of any time soon. This episode ultimately brings Duncan and Jack closer together. That's strange considering the central plot details Duncan telling his father off. Duncan's parents are being perfectly reasonable in expecting him to obey the curfew they set. He casually ignores them because it's more fun to spend time with Mia. He is actually charming her too. That's new as well. This season could see him grow more confident in this crush. They may act on it at some point. The show hasn't gotten to that quite yet though. The dynamic is still basically reduced to him having a crush on her and her being too smart in an otherwise silly town. That could evolve over time as well. But it also makes it understandable when Duncan shows the ability to conduct a subtextual analysis of a film and Mia is suddenly engaged with his brain for the first time. People dismiss Duncan so easily because he rarely has the energy to do anything. He sees the entire world as being boring and uninteresting. When he chooses to engage, he is actually capable of complex, genuine thoughts. That is explored for comedic purposes. But it's also setting up the expectation of needing to firmly stand up to Jack even though his father is a pushover who just wants to be loved. That core dynamic isn't going to change. Jack is very much in touch with his feelings. He still desperately wants to be seen as the cool and loving parent. The one who will let his children do anything they want. That's not particularly healthy for anyone. And yet, it's beneficial when he can remove himself from the situation and be proud of Duncan for taking this huge step. It personally stings. Duncan is celebrated at school. This makes him a bad boy who has done what everyone else is too afraid to do. Jack isn't deserving of that vitriol. The power shifts in their dynamic. Duncan engages with empathy for the first time in his life. It's a struggle to get there. It's also a struggle for Jack to access rage within himself. They are eventually pushed to those breaking points though. Jack needs to follow Duncan's lead and tell his own father off. Dick was nothing but abusive to his son. He is only nice in a nursing home now because he's medicated. When the drugs wear off, he is right back to demeaning Jack. The show basically states that every decision is motivated by generational behavior and trauma. Moreover, people rarely change or evolve over the years. Jack accesses this new free feeling. As such, he bonds with Duncan. Annie is afforded the same opportunity with Kimberly and Jing. Sure, the girls take advantage of having a fun day without parental supervision. But they also see their mom in her element helping deescalate a precarious situation. Sure, Annie can be selfish and vain too. She chose an electric cart over the horse she served on the force with for years. That horse is still jealous. This show loves a cutaway to an insane animal reaction. It works because they too seemingly have these menial thoughts to the strange behavior of humans who disrupt their known worlds. All of this is done with confidence and an ability to weave all these stories together in the end. Some jokes are still hit-or-miss. Jack mentioning a rotary phone when trying to help Duncan drive is baffling. And yet, so much works elsewhere that it's easy to overlook some of the jokes along the way. That's the benefit of so many jokes coming out of the show every single minute. It's overwhelming while ensuring that the viewer is satisfied overall.