Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Television 10/02/12: Mindy's Second Try

The pilot for 'The Mindy Project' was very hard to judge because it didn't really felt like a sitcom. It focused almost exclusively on Mindy, we got her backstory loving romantic comedies, her current love life situation, her current workplace situation and two extended scenes involving Bill Hader and then Ed Helms that didn't feel incredibly necessary for the story. It felt like a series of funny, entertaining bits, but they didn't really add to a coherent whole. The episode itself felt messy. 

Now it was time for Mindy's second episode. In 'Hiring and Firing', as any show would require, it was time to get into a much more traditional structure and using the supporting characters. It was so much traditional in its structure that we even got a B-Plot (something we didn't have in the pilot) involving Ed Weeks having to fire an old crazy nurse. This Subplot was the weakest part of the episode. The nurse character was so cartoonish and stereotypical and the humor didn't really work there. But it at least gave a supporting character something to do. 

The main plot of the episode had Mindy and Dr. Danny (Chris Messina) being unable to stop arguing in order to hire a new nurse. The chemistry between Kaling and Messina is pretty good and their back and forth was also consistently funny, but the show isn't really quite there in terms of conveying what it wants to do and doing it. The fact that the episode ended with what seems like the addition of yet another character to the cast when they already have someone like Anna Camp being pretty much wasted wasn't a good sign. 

The episode focused on Mindy's job and worked solidly as a workplace comedy. But we also got an initial scene in which she met Seth Meyers at a book store than reinforced the romantic comedy thematic established in the first episode. Being somewhat familiar with Kaling's writings on The New Yorker, I assuma what she is trying to do is a deconstruction of a romantic comedy. She acknowledges that romantic comedies work on a different dimension than real life and she seems to be winking at those cliched trope. The fact that Meyers' character was an architect was a wink at one of her New Yorker articles and her banter with Chris Messina's character is nothing if not your typical opposites attract romantic comedy dynamic. 

The question that remains to be asked is if Mindy will indeed try to comment on what is like for a woman to have to be so heavily influenced in her life by movies that present a world set by  a completely fantastical set of rules, or if the show itself will become one of these romantic comedies. Mindy is a very charismatic lead and very good writer and I don't see a reason why not still hope for the best here.

What Else Did I Watch?

Raising Hope: "Not Indecent, But Not Quite Decent Enough Proposal"
I enjoy watching 'Raising Hope'. Like creator Greg Garcia's last show 'My Name is Earl', it relies a lot on wacky antics and characters being dumb. But unlike that show, it also has a strong emotional core and love for its characters. Tonight's episode had Melanie Griffith pop up as Sabrina's mom and it was quite funny even if it wasn't quite as moving as the episode in which Jimmy proposes to Sabrina was going to be in my mind. 

Ben and Kate: "Bad Cop/Bad Cop"
Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson were really funny and the writers got some great use of the supporting characters in a very 'Frasier'-like farcical plot. The plot was the very typical plot about the lie that grows out of control, but you know what I had a great time watching it. The show is unashamedly sweet and sentimental and it works for me. The jokes are funny and the emotion seems sincere. It just brought a huge smile to my face. 

New Girl: "Fluffer"
Your enjoyment of tonight's 'New Girl' probably depends on how you feel about the sexual tension between Nick and Jess. From episode one we knew these two were going to be romantically involved at some point and for the most part the show has worked better when it was more of an ensemble piece instead of focusing on them. It seems like they might be working towards a development in this relationship this season, I'm hoping they do a good job with it. 
The episode itself was alright, although the solution to Schmidt's storyline pretending to be Mitt Romney's son felt forced by the writers in order to have him have an emotional moment with Cece.

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