There have been some absolutely dreadful new sitcoms so far this season (Partners/Animal Practice), but I'm happy to say that The Mindy Project isn't one of them. While it doesn't quite live up to the expectations and the hype (given the buzz surrounding the fact that it's from, and stars, Mindy Kaling), it by no means should be mentioned in the same breath as last season's Are You There, Chelsea? and Whitney. This show has a bit of charm, and while it got off to an underwhelming start, there's definitely some potential there.
Mindy's playing, aptly enough, Mindy, a 31-year-old OB/GYN who is trying to find Mr. Right and who bases her outlook on life on romantic comedies. She works with Danny (Chris Messina), a cutthroat doctor who is stealing her patients and is the kind of guy who might stick her pigtails in the ink well because he likes her, and Jeremy (Ed Weeks), a hot British doctor with whom she has occasional sex. She's also got her best gal pal Gwen (Anna Camp), her boss Marc (Stephen Tobolowsky) and the two receptionists Betsy (Zoe Jarman) and Shauna (Amanda Setton) to help keep her life in line. Here's what we liked best about the pilot, and what will keep us watching for at least a few more weeks:
The Guest Stars
The pilot alone had Bill Hader and Ed Helms guesting, with Hader as her former boyfriend, who just got married, and Helms as a potential suitor. If Kaling can keep pulling in her big name comic friends on a regular basis, that couldn't hurt.
The Talking Doll
It may be wrong of us to hope that the bitchy Barbie at the bottom of the pool could be like Mindy's own little Wonderfalls lion, but we're going to do so anyway. That straight-talking doll who insulted drunken Mindy's lack of a love life was a definite highlight.
From her embarrassing turn at the wedding where she tried to win back her ex via a drunken speech to the date she had to duck out on because of a patient, we kind of like watching Mindy try and fail over and over again. We envision a movie montage of terrible prospects, just spread out over each week.
The Rom-Com Callbacks
Her obsession might be a bit much, but the meet-cute in the elevator and the other set-ups that reference romantic comedies of yore, or even seeing her compare her life to the movies on screen, feels inventive and even insightful for a sitcom like this.
The Lack of a Laugh Track
This single-camera comedy doesn't have a studio audience, and we're so grateful for that. We're fine with not being told when to laugh. Especially after the awkwardness with Whitney.
There's some sort of weird obsessive qualities about Jarman's uber-loyal assistant, and we're curious to see where that goes. She might be the breakout character of the show.
At the end of the day, the thing that gives us the most hope here is Kaling's voice and her ability to just go for it with the pratfalls and the self-deprecating humor. If she keeps embarrassing her alter ego, we may be in on this show for the long haul.
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