Parks and Recreation – “Donna and Joe” (A-)
For an episode all about Donna and Joe’s wedding, it sure relegated them to the sidelines, especially Keegan Michael-Key, who really could have been played by anyone since he’s given so little to do. But I loved Leslie and Ben’s “sweet, beautiful drunk talk,” as Homer Simpson would say. I loved Ron playing accidental Cupid. I loved the Meagle Madness. But most importantly, I loved what Donna did for Garry. The sweetest.
The Mindy Project – “No More Mr. Noishe Guy” (B)
I really didn’t like this episode for a while, because it moved Danny’s quirks from endearing to annoying. (No, I don’t think he’d wear a bike helmet in San Francisco.) It also tried to raise the stakes AND give Peter a big send-off. It was too much for 21 minutes. But the cast, as it has time and again, saved subpar writing. We’ll see how Mindy’s pregnancy plays out over the rest of the season.
Modern Family – “Rash Decisions” (B+)
Loved the bonding in all these four (yeah, only four) stories, especially the triangle between Phil, Luke and Andy. Phil and Andy are spending way too much time together, as evidenced by their adorable Sears portrait, and Luke feels left out. But all the stories had just enough substance there to carry them and provide big laughs.
Fresh off the Boat – Pilot episode (B+), “Home Sweet Home-School” (A-)
Fresh is right. This is a warm but irreverent family comedy that’s already found its voice. It would be reductive to call it an Asian Everybody Hates Chris, but it shares that show’s ability to tackle the issues of struggling middle and lower-class families with humor and heart. I didn’t need another show to keep up with, but I’m glad I found this one.
The Americans – “Baggage” (B+)
Tries to cover a lot of ground in 45 minutes. But it’s also a perfect example of how incredibly crafted this show is: Even with all the internal conflict and intense missions Elizabeth and Philip experience, the most interesting stuff is happening in a Moscow prison. Still the best drama on TV, even if it’s trying to do much.
The Simpsons (Season 8) – “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” (A)
A no-holds-barred skewering of focus-grouped entertainment and overly obsessive fans, this is one of the sharpest episodes the show ever produced. It’s also another endlessly quotable episode. Often when I have to leave quickly or unexpectedly, I’ll say “I have to go. My planet needs me.” And any time someone throws out a buzzword, feel free to dispute its importance and follow it up with “I’m fired, aren’t I?”