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.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, December 12

The Middle - "The Christmas Miracle" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It’s Christmastime, and Frankie and Sue are devastated after Axl informs them that he’s not going to church this year because he’s beginning to question his faith. Meanwhile, Mike goes to war with the Glossner kids after they keep defacing his new, giant inflatable snowman; and Brick goes all out in an attempt to wrap his first present for a planned Christmas Yankee Swap.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Do You Hear What I Hear?" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
As head of the HOA Christmas committee, Jessica threatens to cut the neighborhood caroling this year due to last year’s rocky performance. However, Deirdre says that her friend Holly (Paula Abdul), who teaches “Performance and Movement,” will help get everyone into tip-top, melodic shape. Meanwhile, Marvin becomes suspicious of Honey when she goes to see “Titanic” at the movies without him; Nicole develops her first girl crush and struggles with how to get her attention.

black-ish - "Sugar Daddy" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Dre is diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and after talking to Pops, he’s resolved to curing himself. Things come to a head at the Stevens & Lido holiday party. Meanwhile, Jack is convinced that baby Devante hates him, so he enlists Junior and Diane’s help.

The Mayor - "Grey Christmas" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After visiting a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve, Courtney realizes things for the needy could be improved and pledges to make it a joyous Christmas that every family deserves. But when he learns he doesn’t have the budget to deliver on his promise, Courtney loses hope and his holiday spirit which leads to a magical “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment that makes him realize he has the gift needed to pull off a Christmas miracle.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Game Night" / "The Favor" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Rosa asks for Jake's help to deliver important information to her parents, but their plan goes awry when they assume the two are in a relationship; Seamus Murphy comes back to redeem an ethically questionable favor owed by Capt. Holt.

Teachers - "Let It Flow" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Ms. Cannon discovers that one of her students is an artistic prodigy. Mrs. Adler and Ms. Watson take the mini-society competition to a new level.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 11)

Tuesday, December 12

  • Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Catch Tom on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about The Post on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/30 Rock) - Jane appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ari Graynor (I'm Dying Up Here/Bad Teacher) - Ari is a guest on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Niecy Nash (The Soul Man/Getting On/Do Not Disturb/Reno 911!) - Niecy visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Bill Pullman (1600 Penn) - Bill stops by Steve, so check your local listings.
  • Miles Brown (black-ish) - Miles appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana talks about Fox's A Christmas Story Live! on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Noah Galvin (The Real O'Neals) - Noah talks about Dear Evan Hansen on the BUILD Series at 4pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December)

The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season Living Single - The Complete Third Season Alice - The Complete Sixth Season One Day at a Time - The Complete Series Fuller House - The Complete Second Season

11/07 - American Dad! - Volume 12
11/07 - Family Guy - Season Fifteen
11/07 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Third Season
11/14 - D.C. Follies - The Complete Series
11/21 - Living Single - The Complete Third Season
11/24 - Grandfathered - Season 1
12/05 - Alice - The Complete Sixth Season
12/05 - One Day at a Time - The Complete Series
12/05 - The Simpsons - The Eighteenth Season
12/05 - South Park - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
12/12 - Fuller House - The Complete Second Season
12/19 - South Park - The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray) / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest