What I Watched This Week: 1 Mar 2015

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Boyle-Linetti Wedding” (A)
Event episodes can either be gimmicky or take the best parts of the show and up the stakes. This is clearly the latter, and you could make a strong case that this is the best episode the show has ever done. The cast is all on their A-games, with the right characters hitting the exact right beats, including the ultimate Holt joke: “I wish the officiant had been more efficient.”

The Mindy Project – “Fertility Bites” (A-)
I find Tamra much more palatable when she’s stuck in with Beverly and Morgan. The show’s got a good rhythm going, and they’re not screwing it up. This is a good start to Mindy’s fertility clinic. It’s funny yet somewhat grounded in realism.

Modern Family – “Closet? You’ll Love It!” (B+)
A solid episode, with some genuine pathos from Haley, of all people. But my favorite part was the endless shade-throwing from Cam & Mitchell toward their recently married nemeses.

The Americans – “Born Again” (A-)
Let’s just give Matthew Rhys the Emmy right now. No actor on TV is giving a better performance than Rhys as Philip Jennings. The show’s walking a razor’s edge right now with its potentially icky story about Philip’s mission to get information from a 15-year-old girl, and that conflict is written all over his face. Right now, there are one too many stories keeping us from this brilliant plot.

Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden (A-)
Another outstanding special from Ansari, even if it is a little repetitive. Only someone as boundlessly joyful as Ansari could give such hard truths — sexism, the horrifying practices of the meat industry — the jokes they need to be both hilarious and thought-provoking.

The Americans – “Salang Pass” (A)
Let’s praise The Americans for what it does best: It makes you root for the villains, see them as real people, and then dare you to accept how far they’re willing to go for their cause. Certainly, this isn’t the first show to do that. But The Americans does it so well, because it doesn’t pit husband against wife (at least not much anymore), but causes you to draw your own lines.

The Mindy Project – “Danny Castellano is My Nutritionist” (A)
A timely episode for me personally, as I’m struggling to finally get my weight under control. Moreover, there’s spot-on character-centric humor, plus the addition of the great character actor Dan Bakkedahl.

Modern Family – “Connection Lost” (A)
An ingeniously constructed episode, using only phones, laptops and tablets, “Connection Lost” at first sounded like a groan-worthy stunt. Instead, it’s a perfectly plotted, frequently hilarious, and ultimately touching episode. Modern Family doesn’t always need to succeed on dares like this one, but I’m glad they still can.

Parks and Recreation – “One Last Ride” (A) / series finale
Even if they tied too neat a bow on everyone’s story, you’d have to be a monster not to be thoroughly moved by this series finale, certainly an all-timer. I only cried twice.

The Simpsons (Season 8) – “My Sister, My Sitter” (B)
A quotable, delightful episode. Just not one of the best. Yes, this was one of my sister’s favorite episodes to watch with me. But as I’m older, it just doesn’t hold up quite as well.

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