The Morning Round-Up: ‘Happy Endings,’ ‘The Mindy Project’ & ‘Go On’

Senior Television Writer
11.14.12 21 Comments

It’s morning round-up time, with quick reviews of last night’s episodes of “Go On,” “Happy Endings” and “The Mindy Project,” all coming up just as soon as I hate your regular voice and non-Mutombo persona…

I wrote a bit about last night’s “Go On” yesterday afternoon, but I will give the writers and Matthew Perry specific credit for the “Lean On Me” scene, a rare instance where Ryan was at the center of an episode’s funniest moment. It’s a tough prank, but they set it up well, and Perry played it with such great sincerity and awkwardness. Very good. I also liked how the Yolanda story started the process of justifying how, if the show is successful, Ryan and the others will be part of the group forever: Lauren isn’t very good at her job, and the real value of the group is simply the group itself, which will continue to be the case even as its members begin to get over their individual traumas.

The “Boys II Menorah” subplot that gave last night’s “Happy Endings” its title felt like it was direct-marketed to my brain, filled with aspects of this show and comedy in general that I always love: jokes about Gentiles learning about Judaism, funny dancing, Max and Brad alternately teaming up and fighting with one another, Dikembe Mutombo impressions, etc. (And because Damon Wayans Jr. is such a dead ringer for his father, I liked that the dancers in the scene at the end were all dressed like the “In Living Color” Fly Girls.) But the rest of the episode was pretty strong, too. If the Dave/Alex subplot had just featured the “My Lasiks! My Asics!” joke after Dave got paint in his eyes (and on his sneakers), I might have invoked the Dayeenu rule (speaking of Judaism…), but overall it was the most satisfying of the Dave/Alex stories this season, finding a good take on both the problems in their specific relationship and the problems in general of couples getting back together after a long time off(*), while also weaving in various scary/admirable attributes of Jane. (“You fools, that only makes me stronger!”)

(*) It was much smarter than a similar storyline on last week’s “How I Met Your Mother,” which I bring up also because both “HIMYM” and “Happy Endings” this week had jokes about people being so stupid that they tried to eat candles, Brick Tamland-style.

“Danny Castellano Is My Gynecologist” was one of the earliest episodes of “The Mindy Project” to be produced, and it kept getting pushed back for one reason or another. They tried to push it into current continuity by adding the new teaser (probably the episode’s funniest scene) where Mindy and Josh end up in each other’s clothes, but you can see a lot of elements that the show has already started to move away from, like references to Mindy and Jeremy’s time as sex buddies, or the level of absolute contempt Danny tends to show Mindy. His mathematical approach to her family plan was pretty brutal, and while these two still spar, and will presumably continue to do so for the rest of the series (even after the inevitable moment when they hook up), I feel like the relationship has been better-calibrated in some of the other  episodes, with the conflict being there but not as harshly. Seeing a return to insults about his divorce felt a little off, as did the idea of Mindy being this despairing at a time when she’s in (thanks to the teaser putting it in present-day continuity) a vaguely healthy relationship. And yet Danny’s takedown of her nicely set up her triumphant Beyonce Pad Thai warrior moment. “Hey, hey, eyes down here!” was a marvelous reversal of the old cliche.

One problem that the show had both at the start of the season and now: why are Anna Camp and Stephen Tobolowsky in this cast? Both are very funny performers, yet he’s only appeared in two episodes so far, and briefly, and while she’s turned up more often, it’s usually only for one scene (and often on the phone). I know it’s still relatively early (because of pre-emptions, this was only the fifth episode to air) and they’re learning how to balance a relatively large cast, but they have these two great resources on hand who are barely present.

What did everybody else think?

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