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/June)

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
06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, July 25

The Middle - "Clear and Present Danger" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Frankie frantically searches the house for Axl’s graduation gift, which she bought months before and hid; Sue decides that she wants to make a sweet video for Mike’s upcoming birthday – even though the family warns her that he probably won’t like it; and after Cindy embarrasses Brick by strong-arming and chasing away a boy who was bullying him, Brick turns to Axl to help get him into shape so that he can stick up for himself.

Fresh Off the Boat - "The Flush" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Louis excitedly plans a guys’ weekend for he and Eddie, but is disappointed when he invites his buddies over for a sleepover instead. Unbeknownst to Louis, Eddie and his friends were hiding out in his room, trying beer for the first time. So when Eddie has an adverse reaction to alcohol, also known as the Asian Flush, Louis reassures his eldest son that the discomfort will pass and reminisces about his college drinking days. Meanwhile, Jessica, Emery, Evan and Honey go on a road trip to Georgia in search of “The Big Peanut” and to save a few dollars on a piece of furniture.

black-ish - "Their Eyes Were Watching Screens" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Diane stumbles onto some websites that give her more than she bargained for, Dre and Bow must take action. Concerned that the internet is corrupting their children, Dre and Bow decide to make their home an internet free-zone and deal with the backlash.

black-ish - "VIP" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre decides to take his family to Walt Disney World on the magical, first-class vacation experience he was never able to have as a kid. With the help of a VIP tour guide, Dre and the kids take full advantage of their VIP status. Meanwhile, Bow, Pops and Ruby set off on their own adventure at Walt Disney World.

The Mick - "The Heater" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Mickey and Alba go on a gambling binge. In Mickey’s absence, Jimmy, Sabrina and Chip fight for control of the house, while one of them must watch over Ben.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Mr. Santiago" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
At Amy’s intricately planned Thanksgiving dinner, Jake goes “full Santiago” (binder and all) in order to impress her father (guest star Jimmy Smits), a former cop. With Jake and Amy’s focus elsewhere, Charles is left on turkey duty and Holt helps Pimento cope after learning he can no longer work for the NYPD.

Wrecked - "Sister Mercy" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
After discovering the pirate's plan to harvest their organs, the survivors try to escape the island; Karen makes a difficult decision that echoes a moment from her past.

Still the King - "Flatbushes" (CMT, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Vernon's hometown honors him with a statue of his likeness and Vernon doesn't approve how it looks; Vernon recruits Walt, Charlotte and Doily to ``fix'' the statue.

Still the King - "Showcase Showdown" (CMT, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Vernon readies his band for a big gig he doesn't have booked yet.

In The Cut - "Blast From the Past" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay hires an efficiency expert to improve the business; Smitty sees fire when Mable's old flame, Charles, reappears.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 24)

Tuesday, July 25

  • Tiffany Haddish (The Carmichael Show) - Catch Tiffany on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Fred Savage (The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) - Edie visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tom Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom is a guest on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Alec appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Al Madrigal (About a Boy/Welcome to The Captain/Gary Unmarried) - Al is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kelsey Grammer (Frasier/Cheers) - Kelsey talks about The Last Tycoon on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Debi Mazar (Younger/Entourage/Working) - Debi appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Zach Braff (Scrubs) - Zach is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick is a guest on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Bella Thorne (Shake It Up) - Bella explains her obsession with Disney star Dove Cameron on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Andrea Savage (I'm Sorry/The Hotwives/Significant Others) - Andrea talks about truTV's I'm Sorry on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Alisan Porter (Chicken Soup) - Alisan appears on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico and Sara Haines discuss sexuality with young adults, including what it means to be bisexual and the stereotypes and myths surrounding it, on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.