What I Watched This Week: 29 Nov 2015

NEW SHOWS
The Mindy Project – “The Parent Trap” (A)
In some ways, this is the best episode the show has ever done. Hysterical and unabashedly raunchy in its first two-thirds, devastating and honest in its final act, this is the culmination of the season: a major challenge to Mindy and Danny’s relationship, which has some significant flaws that both need to work on. Of course, this is also tough to watch since most viewers have rooted for them to get together. Personally, it’s also the best things since the gleefully romantic Season Two finale that brought these two together. I hope they don’t whiff this mid-season finale.

The Muppets – “Going, Going, Gonzo” (A-)
At its best, any Muppets-related project will teach a valuable lesson in a non-preachy and humorous way. This is exactly why “Going, Going, Gonzo” is the best episode of this season. Gonzo overcomes his fears that he won’t be as good as he used to be, pulling off his new stunt with an assist from Dave Grohl.

CURRENT SHOWS
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Ava” (A-)
The birth episode is a rite of passage for nearly all sitcoms. Luckily, the 99 pulls it off with aplomb. A very pregnant Sharon is waiting for Terry to return from an interrogation at Rikers Island, leaving the irresponsible Jake to make her feel comfortable in the midst of an influx of perps, a lack of WiFi (which keeps processing at a snail’s pace) and an overly awkward Holt. It’s an extremely well-done episode and that’s even before we get to the incomparable Nick Offerman as Holt’s ex who saves the day.

Casual – Pilot episode (B+)
Does exactly what a pilot needs to do: set up the characters and the stakes, and hook us with an engaging storyline. There’s crazy potential for this dramedy about a newly divorced mom (Michaela Watkins, tremendous) with an unapologetically promiscuous daughter (Tara Lynne Barr) crashing with her empty brother (Tommy Dewey).

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (A)
John Mulaney’s newest special is the perfect realization of his unassuming but completely committed style. He’s my favorite comedian because he blends carefully crafted jokes with howlingly funny anecdotes and specific cultural references. This is the comedy special of the year (and that’s saying something).

The Mindy Project – “The Lahiris and the Castellanos” (B)
Doesn’t get quite as much mileage out of the difference between Mindy’s super-generous parents and the one-woman rain cloud that is Annette. Still, it does a great job of building conflict leading up to this week’s intense fight.

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