Thursday, April 17, 2014

Episodic Review: Community - "Basic Sandwich" Airing Tonight on NBC; FX Orders 3rd Season of The Americans, Solid Start for Fargo



On the next...Community (NBC, Thur 8:00pm):
By: Vincent

NBC's ensemble comedy lead by Joel McHale airs Thursdays at 8:00pm and we have just watched the next episode that airs tonight (April 17). In the episode airing tonight, "Basic Sandwich," once Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Hickey (Jonathan Banks) locate the school's blueprints, Annie (Alison Brie) and Abed (Danny Pudi) lead the search for Borchert's old computer lab, which was sealed off years ago. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) make a grown-up decision about their futures.

Because of its low-rated status, the past few season finales of Community have also meant to serve as potential series finales in case the show didn't get picked up. Season 3's finale, "Introduction to Finality", was a low-key, heartfelt outing that nicely wrapped up all of the shows' central themes into a clear and concise knot. The troubled Season 4's finale, "Advanced Introduction to Finality", took the opposite route by giving us a huge spectacle that tried to be as daring and surprising as possible but mostly just wound up feeling reductive and hollow. This years' finale, "Basic Sandwich", finds itself somewhere in the middle. There's no doubt that it's a much better effort than last years' finale, which is to be expected given the show has seen a huge creative resurgence this year, but it does lack the depth and the fearlessness that Community possesses at its very best. It's a fun adventure with a lot of great jokes, a fairly unique premise, and a lot of nice character moments, but it also feels a little worn around the edges. The story is far more basic and rudimentary than you might expect from this show, and there's sort of a sense that the show is at a bit of a loss for how to wrap up the season.



What is most disappointing about "Basic Sandwich" is the way it sort of drops the interesting questions that the preceding episode "Basic Story" posed for the show. While "Basic Story" seemed to be an episode that wrestled with the very idea of an ending, "Basic Sandwich" is little more than a fun scavenger hunt that finds the study group looking for buried treasure. The study group looking for buried treasure promises a lot of fun in and of itself, and it delivers on that front. But when Community is at its best - as it has been several times this season - there's a little more going on underneath the surface, and I'm not entirely sure that's true of this episode. Still, maybe Community has earned the right to relax a bit. This season has been the first time in a long time - perhaps ever - that the show has felt at ease with itself. And as we head into another era of uncertainty about the shows' future (though I'm staying hopeful and trusting that "six seasons and a movie" will soon be fulfilled) it's not so bad to see the show just kicking back and enjoying the ride a little. It's not a gear I want to see the show in all of the time, but just for now, there's something comforting about seeing Community relax just a bit. B


The Americans

FX has picked up its hit drama The Americans for a 13-episode third season. One of television's most critically-acclaimed series, The Americans has fast become a signature show for FX. Five episodes remain in the current season. The series airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM E/P. In its first season, The Americans was the most critically-acclaimed new program of 2013, winning the Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding New Program. The critical acclaim for season 2 has surpassed that of its remarkable first season. On a Live+7 basis, season 2 of The Americans is averaging 3.08 million Total Viewers and 1.47 million Adults 18-49, respective declines of just -9% and -14%, due in part to the lofty performance of the series' premiere episode. Time-shifted viewing has increased significantly with season 2 averaging respective gains of +130% in Adults 18-49 and +109% in Total Viewers (Live+Same Day to Live+7, compared to +93% and +83% respectively for season 1.

Set in 1981 just after Ronald Reagan is elected president, The Americans, starring Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich, is a drama series about the complex marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. The series was created by and is executive produced by Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies), a former CIA agent who went on to become an accomplished author. Joel Fields and Graham Yost are also executive producers, along with Amblin Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. The Americans is produced by Fox Television Studios and FX Productions. And finally, "you betcha" the limited series Fargo is off to a good start! FX's new 10-part limited series and critical juggernaut Fargo received a warm reception among viewers, drawing 4.15 million total viewers and 1.79 million Adults 18-49 for its first installment, a very strong initial number which will amount to only a small fraction of its final tally once time-shifted viewing arrives. The premiere episode, "The Crocodile's Dilemma," which ran from 10:00-11:37 PM, and encore telecasts (11:37 PM and 1:13 AM) combined to deliver 4.1 million Total Viewers and 1.79 million Adults 18-49. Fargo's first-run episode at 10:00 PM posted 2.65 million Total Viewers and 1.02 million Adults 18-49, which were respective increases of +100% and +67% over its lead-in half hour (the broadcast premiere of the movie Contraband). The network expects a massive spike in viewership when Live+3 ratings data becomes available on Monday and inclusive of Live+7 data in approximately three weeks. Oscar(R) winner Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May)

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, May 23

Downward Dog - "Boundaries" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Nan installs an automatic dog door so she can take away Jason’s key but still keep him as Martin’s dog walker, Martin is convinced he can suddenly open doors with his mind, and the new-found power goes to his head.  Meanwhile at work, Nan’s boss is unable to understand the new ad campaign Nan sold to the corporate bosses, and he spirals into confusion.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Bank Job" / "Crime & Punishment" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
As Jake and Rosa continue their search for a bank-robbing operation with Lieutenant Hawkins (guest star Gina Gershon), they realize there’s more to her team than meets the eye. After discovering a dangerous secret, they call for back-up from Holt and Pimento (guest star Jason Mantzoukas). Meanwhile, Boyle objects to Gina’s new boyfriend (guest star Ryan Phillipe). Then, Jake and Rosa are framed for a crime they didn’t commit, it’s up to the Nine-Nine to find a way to bust them out.

Great News - "Carol Has a Bully" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Carol (Andrea Martin) has a midterm she must pass in order to keep her internship. Katie (Briga Heelan) needs to choose between helping her mom and focusing on her hacking story, which she can't seem to crack. Meanwhile, Greg's (Adam Campbell) wealthy estranged grandmother (guest star Christina Pickles) pays a visit to the office. Chuck (John Michael Higgins) finds her cold and cruel, but almost immediately falls in love with her.

Great News - "Carol's Eleven" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Katie (Briga Heelan) makes a huge discovery about the story she's been chasing and, with the help of Carol (Andrea Martin) and the rest of the staff, concocts a scheme to get the story out. Greg (Adam Campbell) struggles with balancing his conflicting loyalties to his family, co-workers and conscience.

Mann & Wife - "Mann, Shut Yo Mouth" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Struggling to solve a tough case, an exhausted Daniel falls asleep and wakes up in a 70's blaxploitation cop show.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 22)

Tuesday, May 23

  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Catch Terry on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Rob Huebel (Trasparent/Burning Love) - Rob appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Al Madrigal (About a Boy/Welcome to The Captain/Gary Unmarried), Andrew Santino (I'm Dying Up Here/Sin City Saints) and Erik Griffin (I'm Dying Up Here) - Al, Andrew and Erik are guests on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ari Graynor (I'm Dying Up Here/Bad Teacher) - Ari stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Nick Kroll (The League/Cavemen) - Nick visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Ben Falcone (Nobodies/A to Z/Joey) - Ben drops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens) - Abigail appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory/Blossom) - Mayim talks about her new book Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular and The Big Bang Theory on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Kyle Chandler (What About Joan?) - Kyle teams up with Clinton Kelly to grill up a great entrĂ©e on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Nicole Byer ( Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Nicole is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • The Love Boat Cast - The cast of The Love Boat reunites on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Debra Messing (Will & Grace) - Debra chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Zoe Lister-Jones (Life in Pieces/Friends with Better Lives/Whitney) - Zoe talks about her new comedy Band Aid on the AOL Build Show 1pm.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show) - Jamie talks about Beat Shazam on AOL Build Show 4pm.