The Simpsons – “Simprovised” (B+)
Its live gimmick in the last three minutes of the episode is actually the weakest part of the whole thing. Homer gets off some easy jokes about Bernie Sanders and overeating, but it comes off as a lame stunt. The rest of the episode, in which Homer joins an improve troupe to try to overcome his fear of public speaking, is consistently funny, in its straight jokes, clever wordplay and genius sight gags.
Silicon Valley – “Maleant Data Systems Solutions” (A-)
And now Stephen Tobolowsky’s watch has ended. Most shows would have stretched out the last two episodes over the course of a season, but it’s speeding up in a way that’s completely different from, say, some Fox shows. Part of the arc of this show is about Richard no longer being a timid little coder, but actually becoming a confident entrepreneur. He stands up for himself not once but twice in this episode, initially to his detriment, then to his benefit. I’m here for that, but also for Ehrlich to explain a huge twist while stoned out of his gourd.
Veep – “Mother” (A)
I usually advocate for spreading the love at award shows. But damn, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is so incredible in this fantastic episode that we should just give JLD her fifth straight Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Her mother – whom she never really liked – finally kicks the bucket, and she can’t bring herself to be sad about it. But losing Nevada? That’s what causes her to break down at the funeral. It’s dark, it’s complex and it’s genius.
The Mindy Project – “Baby Got Backslide” (A-)
The “Jody dates a virgin” storyline mercifully comes to an end as he realizes how much he cares for Mindy, just as she grows up and realizes how much she’s into her ex’s friend. It’s a classic right place, wrong time situation. I first found a Jody-Mindy pairing icky, but as both characters have (slightly) matured, I’m starting to root for them. But for once, Jeremy is the MVP of an episode, playing the only superfan of Buchanan: The Musical.
The Americans – “Munchkins” (B+)
This episode owes a debt to both O. Henry and Boogie Nights, which is not a sentence I thought I would ever write. The tension isn’t sustained throughout, but the kitchen and hotel scenes are more than enough. Nothing blew up, but the match has been lit.