Review: ‘Bunheads’ – ‘Inherit the Wind’

A review of last night’s “Bunheads” coming up just as soon as we talk about bunions and menopause…

“Bunheads” is still in world-building mode at this point, as Michelle gets a tour of the huge property she’s inherited, as we meet more townspeople – including the crooked cop, and Steven Eckholdt(*) as Michelle’s obvious love interest down the road(**) – and spend more time getting to know the four girls, and start establishing reasons Michelle might want to stay in Paradise rather than selling the property and splitting the cash with Fanny.

(*) Eckholdt – who’s probably still best known for playing the guy on “Friends” who inspired Ross and Rachel to take their infamous “break” – is very much in the mold of David Sutcliffe, who played Rory’s dad on “Gilmore Girls,” and even co-starred with Eckholdt in CBS’ short-lived “Grapevine” remake.

(**) After disastrous debut ratings, episode 2 was up 18% in adults 18-34 and 28% in women 18-34, among other increases. We’re still starting from a low number among young viewers, but this may not be a dead show walking, after all. 

And on those levels, “Inherit the Wind” worked. You still have to get past the idea that Hubbell could orally change his estate in such a legally-binding manner, which is just as ridiculous as the marriage itself was, but we’re gradually moving away the silliness required to set up the show and getting into the show itself. And the show itself is fairly promising.

In particular, “Inherit the Wind” did a good job in the scenes with the girls, who are starting to establish individual voices, senses of humor(***) and feeling like people rather than types. And the disgusting feet contest had the ring of something taken from the real world of dancing schools, even if it was entirely invented.

(***) Although Melanie dropping a “Risky Business” reference only a few scenes after none of the girls understood Michelle’s Menudo joke stuck out a bit. Early Tom Cruise is ultimately more iconic and enduring than the group that gave Ricky Martin his start, but it might have been better to save that line for another episode, or have Melanie make a more current one.

On the other hand, there were a few moments in the episode where the Amy Sherman-Palladino-style humor (in this case, in a script by Sarah Dunn) became grating. There were times on “Gilmore Girls” where the quirkiness felt forced, and the tow truck driver’s refusal to take Hubbell’s car off the private road – or, more importantly, Michelle not simply putting the damn thing in neutral and pushing it a few feet down an incline – was one of those. And, like last week’s Fanny/Truly scene, Fanny being wildly passive-aggressive about the tea kettle, mugs, etc., was unbearable to sit through. I understand that this is who this character is and how she deals with situations she doesn’t like, but that’s the kind of scene that exists only because people don’t have a real conversation, which had to be held for the end of the episode, after Michelle had discovered the property’s perfect guest house.

A lot of you were less happy with last week’s memorial episode than I was, so I’m curious what your take on “Inherit the Wind” was. Sherman-Palladino and company are, as usual, walking a very narrow line with this material, and I imagine different people have different standards for when the show strays away from that line.

So what did everybody else think?