I can't believe I'm saying this, because I haven't said it in a while, but I actually kind of loved last night's episode of New Girl, "Sister 3." Maybe it's because unlike so many other things on this show, a story line had a definitive expiration date and therefore could not outstay its welcome (or, in this case, Abby could not outstay her welcome). It also probably helped that it felt more like the Season 1 and 2 characters we fell in love with. Nick acted like a weird manchild hobo, Jess was a quirky neurotic and Schmidt pronounced things funny. Hell, I even thought they made good use of Cece and Coach, which is the rarest rarity of them all. Winston, on the other hand, was sadly as pathetic as ever. The episode found Abby and Schmidt shacked up, much to the horror of Jess, who decides she and Nick have to catch up with them. She asks Nick to "move in" with her, and the two find out pretty quickly that living together isn't quite the same as living together separately. So, in honor of that mistake, here are the do's and don'ts from "Sister 3":
In case you hadn't noticed, I wasn't the biggest fan of the episode "Dead Inside". I thought it was cruel and ugly and unfunny and used a death as a way to challenge viewers who don't like these characters. I understand not wanting to conform to what's expected of you, but rubbing everyone's face in their heartlessness seemed like a surefire way to turn off even the most fervent supporters. (See: me.) Since that fateful episode, in which Hannah whined more about the fate of her book than the actual passing of her editor David and all of her (female) pals talked about loss and death with nothing more than eye-rolling boredom and snark, things have been on the upswing of late. Both "Incidentals" and "Beach House" began to make these characters human, and even likeable again. But, if like me, "Dead Inside" still leaves a bitter taste in your mouth (I'm still convinced that Hannah is a sociopath), "Flo" probably remedied that. Instead of a detached, mean-spirited look at loss, "Flo" was sensitive and personal and was reminiscent of Season 1 depth.
After a long five-week hiatus, I was had begun to fear that the first episode back -- "Just Like Home" -- wasn't worth the wait. I blame it on yet another chapter in the god awful saga that is the Hank/Sarah/Karl sorta love triangle for feeling that way. Though the rest of the episode was pretty good, it was all worthwhile to make it to those wonderful last ten minutes. The Joel and Julia split has been the best story line in all of this shaky Season 5, and now it's starting to have a ripple effect on the entire Braverman family. And while Julia is adjusting to a new phase of her life, with the support of her siblings, one thing still remains constant: Sydney is awful. Here are the best and worst Braverman pairings of last night's new episode "Just like At Home":
I wish I laughed at New Girl as hard as I used to. I'm not saying last night's episode "Sister 2" wasn't funny, per se, but the tone of the show in Season 3 hasn't given me one solid belly laugh, when the first and second season were packed to the brim with them. "Sister 2" had its funny moments, but even something as silly as Nick pretending to be a hot dog bandit (it's was as ridiculous as it sounds) didn't make me laugh in the same way it would have a year or two ago. Is it because I've outgrown these characters or because the pacing feels off or am I just not letting myself actually have fun watching such a light show? It might be a little bit of all three, but either way, not even the re-emergence of Coach this season or newcomers like Jess's crazy sister Abby (Linda Cardellini) are helping fix this problem. In fact, they might even be making things worse.
It should be stated, first and foremost, that Steve Zahn really should be in just about everything. The underrated, scene-stealing actor is the best part of anything he's in (see: That Thing You Do!, Rescue Dawn, Joy Ride, among others) and always seems to be the missing link that improves a movie or TV show. The goofy, but lovable Zahn is, without a doubt, the best thing about the new dramedy Mind Games, but even his talents can't save this from being an ultimately ridiculous -- but most notably, boring -- slog.
Not since CBS's Great Alex O'Loughlin Campaign of 2007-2010 has a network invested as much effort in making an actor "happen" as NBC has with David Walton. The actor's relationship with the Peacock dates back to 2006, when he had a supporting role on Heist, that creatively-named heist series that vanished after five episodes. Roles on such short-lived "Wait… that was a TV show?" series as Quarterlife (which premiered online before moving to terrestrial television), 100 Questions and Perfect Couples followed, eventually culminating in 2012's Bent, an ensemble comedy starring Walton, Amanda Peet and Jeffery Tambor that NBC felt so confident in, they burned it off over the course of three weeks in March. If nothing else, at least they're giving Walton's latest series, About a Boy -- based on the 2002 Hugh Grant movie and the 1998 Nick Hornby novel -- a prime post-Olympics berth on its way to an inevitable cancellation.
By all accounts, The Michael J. Fox Show should have been good. It starred television treasures (Michael J. Fox, Betsy Brandt, Wendell Pierce), it had a primo time slot and it did not shy away from Fox's real-life battle with Parkinson's (in fact, that was a prominent part of the show.) But throw some annoying kids in the mix, sitcom-friendly problems (all family squabbles are fixed within the half-hour and no one ever holds a grudge),and the uneasy feeling that Parkinson's is being used as a comedy crutch more often than it should be, and well, you've got a major disappointment.
Boy, when Girls gets something wrong, it gets it so wrong, but when it gets something right, it gets it so right. Case in point: the soaring feeling you can get breezily walking through the streets of downtown Manhattan when everything in your life briefly, inexplicably falls into place and/or the crushing defeat that can surprise the hell out of you during what was supposed to be a routine trip to get frozen yogurt. Life in New York City changes on you on a dime, and sometimes you're zipping through Times Square having just heard the best news of your life, and other times you're carrying a pizza with you after having been dumped in Brooklyn.
I must admit something right off the bat: I've never been the biggest fan of Jimmy Fallon as a late night talk show host. I know, I know, that's like saying puppies are overrated and ice cream is a sub-par dessert. I'm of the minority and I realize that. Let me clarify that I actually thought Fallon's Late Night was a fun, hip (The Roots rule all!!) and modern (the guy knows his viral-friendly audience) show, but Fallon's interviewing style of fawning and giggling over every single guest always hit the wrong nerve with me. Again, I realize that Fallon doesn't have the gravitas as Letterman, nor the politics of Stewart and Colbert, but I like my hosts more edgy and daring than agreeable and starstruck, and the squeaky-clean Fallon most certainly ain't that.
Vacation is good for everyone. It's good for me, it's good for you and it's definitely good for TV shows stuck in a rut that it desperately needs to get out of. A change of scenery doesn't just physically take you out of your elements, but it mentally does, too. Destination/getaway episodes are nothing new, but rarely are they used to re-set the course of a series. Typically it's just an excuse to have the characters get into whacky shenanigans in Hawaii or meet Mickey Mouse. But Girls went a different route with "Beach House" and didn't use their getaway as a break from the norm, but rather as a device to have a lot of underlying issues come to a head. Vacation episodes are usually a fun distraction, but this one felt like the first truly authentic, funny, interesting, and -- believe it or not -- emotional episode of this rocky, thus-far-unlikable third season. Girls has had success with getting the characters out of the city before. Case in point: "The Return" and "Video Games." Last night's "Beach House" makes them three for three. (Maybe they need to leave New York more often?)
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