Review: ‘Bunheads’ – ‘Blank Up, It’s Time’

A review of last night’s “Bunheads” coming up just as soon as you’ll want to hear my Stewie Griffin…

Due to my recent travels, it’s been a month since I last wrote about this show, though I’ve been watching all the episodes. I thought “Bunheads” finally found itself in the last couple of episodes, not coincidentally while Fanny was out of town and the writers were able to better develop the four girls, as well as Michelle’s relationship with them and the other people in Paradise. I had been placed in this weird situation where I was rooting against Kelly Bishop appearing on an Amy Sherman-Palladino show, but the balance just seemed to work much better without Madam Fanny being around to make things – as Sasha accuses her at the end of this episode – all about her.

So when Fanny came back to town “Blank Up, It’s Time,” I worried that she might resume emotionally dominating the proceedings. But while I didn’t think this was one of the strongest, or funniest, “Bunheads” installments (Daniel Palladino’s scripts always feel too frantic for the jokes to quite work), overall it did a good job of dividing the wealth among Michelle, Fanny and the girls.

For a while, it actually felt as if Michelle was getting short shrift, and there was that bizarre moment where Fanny – who, again, was Michelle’s mother-in-law for five seconds (technically still is, I guess) – was encouraging her to have a quickie with the director(*), and it was like Hubbell had never even existed. But then Fanny mentioned him casually while discussing her history with Michael(**), and I was reassured that the show wasn’t simply trying to pretend that the poor schmuck never existed at all and that Michelle had come to Paradise for some other reason. And that set us up for Michelle’s post-coital crying jag, which also wasn’t as funny as it was meant to be, but was a good, and welcome, character moment for her.

(*) Played by another “Gilmore Girls” alum in Chris Eigeman, who dated Lorelai for a bunch of episodes in season 4.

(**) Played by Richard Gant, who was never on “Gilmore Girls” but has been a big part of my “Deadwood” season 2 summer rewatch, making his appearance here very disconcerting. I kept waiting for Michael to prepare an extra plate at kinky breakfast for the General, you know?

I also enjoyed Boo’s unexpected flirtation with shrimpy Carl, even if the other girls ruined it (for now). And if Sasha’s rebellion is playing out even more slowly than it took for Michelle to realize she’d have to start teaching dance classes, it at least feels like something the series is paying attention to each week.

So, no, not as strong overall as the last few, but “Blank Up, It’s Time” at least was able to reincorporate Fanny without it feeling jarring or like a big creative step back.

What did everybody else think?