Ben and Kate, Chris Messina, Dakota Johnson, David Walton, Ed Helms, FOX, FOX Comedy Tuesday, Jake Johnson, Lucy Punch, Mindy Kaling, Nat Faxon, New Girl, Parkey Posey, Recap, Television, The Mindy Project, TV, Zooey Deschanel
FOX Comedy Tuesday – Reviewing the Premieres
This is not going to be a regular recap like I’ve done for previous shows. There’s four comedies on FOX tonight that I wanted to take a closer look at in this post. This probably won’t be a regular thing. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to recap of Tuesdays yet. I’m thinking of maybe even doing a delayed review of the CBS Monday comedies. Or just keep this day open and rotate different shows. But tonight I’m taking a look at the premiere of the new FOX comedies and the return of New Girl.
New Girl: 2.01 – “Re-launch”
New Girl was not one of my favorites at that start of its first season last year. There were some elements that made me stick with it, but it wasn’t can’t-miss television. That changed around the middle of the season. The show really began to find its voice. The cast worked really well together and the writers focused on what made each character unique.
The season premiere takes place two months after the season finale. Schmidt is getting his penis cast off and Jess has been laid off from her job as an elementary school teacher. Schmidt is planning a ‘re-branding event’ and not a party to announce his availability to the ladies again. Jess is desperate for direction and wants Schmidt to hire her to work at the party. He reluctantly agrees and she takes the position of shot girl (she hands out shots to party goers). Jess isn’t the best girl for the job. She’s not slutty enough to get the tips from the guys, but she tries her best to compete with the other shot girl (played by Parker Posey) and has a funny dance-off scene. She leaves the party and Nick meets up with her in the school parking lot. There’s also the rest of Schmidt’s storyline where he’s jealous of CeCe’s new boyfriend Robby, a nerdy pudgy guy that’s the opposite of him. And there’s a small subplot with Winston getting drunk at the party.
I thought the premiere was okay. There were some funny moments with Zooey Deschanel. Her storyline really propped up the rest of the episode. She had some good scenes with Jake Johnson. They have great chemistry and it showed in their scenes together, especially the one at the end in the parking lot. But it was mostly just okay material. And I felt bad for Parker Posey. She didn’t get much to do.
Ben and Kate: 1.01 – “Pilot”
This is one of the two new series that FOX launched tonight. Ben and Kate follows two dysfunctional siblings played by Nat Faxon & Dakota Johnson. Kate is the more responsible sibling. Five years ago, she had a one-night stand and had a daughter named Maddie (played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones). She’s been working hard to support herself and her daughter. Her brother Ben is the complete opposite. He’s pretty flaky and moves around a lot. He runs to Kate whenever he has a problem.
The pilot episode finds Ben running to Kate after experiencing another problem. His ex-girlfriend that he thought was ‘the one’ is getting married. Relunctantly, Kate agrees to help Ben crash the wedding and get back his true love. They crash the wedding and they realize that they are 5 minutes too late. They stay for the rest of the party and some amends are made between the siblings. Ben says that he is going to change his ways and stick around for a while now. He wants to help Kate raise her daughter. There’s also a plot where Kate is about to have sex for the first time in 5 years (since the conception of her daughter). But the guy turns out to be a slime ball and Ben steps in and protects his little sister.
I thought this was an average pilot. All 5 of the main characters are introduced way too fast. There’s Ben’s friend Tommy, played by Echo Kellum, and Kate’s co-worker/friend B.J., played by Lucy Punch, that get weird introductions and do their best to develop some sense of characters. Lucy Punch is actually the funniest part of the episode. There’s a great scene where she’s putting makeup on Maddie and pointing out her flaws, and an even funnier one later where she teaches Kate how to be sexy and draw attention to her mouth. The writing was a little sloppy and they tried to jam too many storylines into a first episode. But there are some positive mentions. Dakota Johnson is completely likable in the leading role. She’s absolutely beautiful and the camera loves her. She’s also believable and makes the character someone we can root for on a weekly basis. Nat Faxon isn’t as good, but he does have good chemistry with Johnson. This could develop into something good if the writers focus on what worked in the pilot.
New Girl: 2.02 – “Katie”
Second episode of the evening! Jess is trying to enjoy her unemployment and Nick convinces her to go “off the grid”, which turns out to mean Jess hanging out in Nick’s bar. While she’s there, she is mistaken by a random stranger Sam (David Walton) for a girl named Katie that he met on a dating website. Jess goes along with it and brings him home. She has the best sex of her life, “He brewed me like a fine chamomile”, and decides to continue the charade. Another element is thrown in to complicate this. While Jess was at the bar with Nick, she thinks one of the delivery guys is cute and asks Nick to give him her number. Nick gives the wrong guy, Bearclaw (the chubby guy played by Josh Gad), her number instead of the cuter guy. She gets stuck on a date with Bearclaw and fakes a sickness to get out of it. Jess meets Sam in the bar and begins making out with him in the bar bathroom. She gets caught by Bearclaw and Nick, and the lies unravel from there. All of the guys leave her, so she goes back to the apartment with Nick. There’s a knock at the door and Sam is there. He said that he lied in his dating profile and that he had a great time with Jess. They’re going to give it another shot, this time being honest with each other.
There’s a few subplots in the episode too. Nick meets his future self in the bar. A man played by Raymond J. Barry who claims to have traveled back in time through a time machine to warn himself about the future. The man turns out to be a crazy homeless bum, but it gives Nick a chance to reflect on his behavior and possibly make some changes. There’s also one involving Winston’s family coming for a visit. Schmidt has a crush on Winston’s sister but Winston’s mother is not fond of him at all.
The second episode was much stronger than the premiere. The Jess storyline was really good and had a satisfying conclusion without being too saccharine. It gave some good moments to Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson, who have incredible chemistry together. Their final scene in the kitchen where they take about vintage MTV (“Kurt Loder is the elder statesman of our generation.”) was hysterical. The Nick subplot also had some satisfying moments as well. The Winston plot was a complete throwaway though. What a complete waste of time.
The Mindy Project: 1.01 – “Pilot”
Mindy Kaling is best known for her role as Kelly on The Office. This show is completely different and Kaling gets a shot at stretching her acting skills. Here she plays Mindu Lahiri, a 31 year-old OB/GYN that is trying to find true love in her life. Her professional career is on-track, now she just needs the man to fulfill her romantic ambitions.
The introduction is pretty fantastic. Mindy is being interrogated by a police officer about what happened the night before. Mindy then recounts attending an ex-boyfriend’s wedding, getting drunk and making a fool of herself. She takes a drunken bike ride and ends up in a stranger’s pool. She’s bailed out of jail by her friend Gwen (Anna Camp) and makes it to work in time. She work at a private practice with tough guy/douche bag Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), nerdy boss Marc Shulman (Stephen Tobolowsky), and an English bad boy with some charm Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks). In the pilot episode she goes on a blind date (Ed Helms) before she’s interrupted by one of her patients experiencing a breech birth. She successfully delivers the baby and has a heart-to-heart with Danny where she realizes what she wants in a man.
I really loved this pilot. It’s what every pilot should strive for in its execution. It introduces the main character in a very authentic way and let’s the audience get to know her on a deep level. The supporting characters are sprinkled in just enough to give a taste of their personality without having to go too deep. There’s going to be more episodes to do that. Mindy Kaling is a very appealing lead and it was nice to see her go in a different direction that what she did on The Office. Chris Messina was also very good in his supporting role, getting the most to do outside of Kaling. The cinematography was also amazing. It was shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, which looks like one of his first TV projects according to IMDB. I’m definitely invested in this series. It’s going to fit perfectly with New Girl.