Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Episode 1521: A Tale Of Two Freshmen Comedies

Holiday episodes can make or break a comedy. Do you try to put a spin on what would otherwise be obvious family-related jokes, or do you get all kooky with the holiday theme? Or do you just, well, squander the opportunity altogether? Having seen the Thanksgiving episodes of The Mindy Project and The New Normal, I've come to the conclusion that the former is spiralling into disaster, whereas the latter might actually be headed towards serviceability. As such, it both horrifies and mortifies me to switch my endorsement from the one to the other. The Mindy Project delivered a mess of a Thanksgiving episode, in which the obvious main romantic triangle of Mindy/Danny/Jeremy was split up, which made for some weak jokes and a lot of cutting back and forth between storylines. (If you wanted a clear example of how half-hour comedies do A-, B- and C-plots within a single episode, this was pretty much it.) I initially thought this show had promise, but I'm starting to think it's a case of Mindy Kaling's creative control gone wrong. There are also casting changes coming up, with one series regular leaving, one demotion from regular to recurring, and one new recurring character with potential for promotion to regular. It looks like the show's still struggling to define itself among everything else in the TV landscape, but its ratings have already slipped enough for TV by the Numbers to label it a toss-up for renewal or cancellation. On the other hand, The New Normal has got a lot less shrill lately, although it's also obviously still trying to figure out what stories it can tell using its ensemble. Maybe having to divide his attention between three shows is helping Ryan Murphy to avoid straying into unfunny polemical territory? One can only hope, even if I wouldn't be surprised to see the show backpedal next week straight into strident diatribe.

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