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 11

The Conners - "O Sister, Where Art Thou?" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Becky helps Harris keep a secret from Darlene, it opens up a can of worms that causes a rift between the two sisters. Jackie supports Peter with his Nordic history project, and Dan reunites with an old friend.

The Kids Are Alright - "Christmas 1972" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Peggy’s successful brother, Tom, drops in for Christmas, Mike immediately oozes with jealousy. Thus begins Mike’s one-sided competition with Tom, using his kids as pawns to help. After Tom gives the Clearys an extravagant Christmas gift, pride prevents Mike from taking it – putting him at odds with the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Timmy mistakenly receives $100 from his great-aunt for Christmas and contemplates whether he should do “the right thing” or keep it. Elsewhere, Eddie forgets to get Wendi a Christmas present and panic sets in.

black-ish - "Christmas in Theater Eight" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
The Johnsons have a tradition of going to the movies on Christmas and they can never agree on what to see. Dre wants to see an important film about Rosa Parks, but they all want to see the latest action-packed superhero blockbuster. Meanwhile, Junior becomes embarrassed about taking a gap year after he runs into his ex-girlfriend Megan at the theater.

Splitting Up Together - "Messy" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After Lena and Vlad’s unexpected kiss, things get more complicated as they begin their new work partnership while working with a new client. Elsewhere, Martin goes to Paige’s house for more privacy and gets a glimpse into what a more typical divorced home life is, causing him to become uneasy. Back at home, Mason and Mae go head-to-head after Mae finds out that Mason has a crush on a pretentious girl at school.

The Guest Book - "Everybody Loves Clark" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Tommy surprises Nikki with a spontaneous wedding ceremony; both are blithely oblivious to the fact that Vivian is kidnapping their child; some familiar faces from Mt. Trace return to sort things out.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of December 10)

Tuesday, December 11

  • Ron Livingston (Loudermilk/Search Party) - Catch Ron on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Adam Pally (Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Vanessa Hudgens (Powerless) - Vanessa stops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Nicole Byer (Loosely Exactly Nicole) - Nicole is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen/The Ellen Show) - Ellen drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men/Jenny) - Jenny appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Maura Tierney (NewsRadio) - Maura is a guest on E!'s Busy Tonight at 10pm.
  • Kathy Bates (Disjointed) - Kathy chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Ashton Kutcher (The Ranch/Two and a Half Men/That 70s Show) - Ashton guest co-hosts The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek/Greg the Bunny/Hiller and Diller) and Catherine O'Hara (Schitt's Creek) - Eugene and Catherine are guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso and his wife Angela discuss holiday hacks on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Leah Remini (Kevin Can Wait/The Exes/Family Tools/The King of Queens/Fired Up) - Leah talks about Second Act on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela talks about The Good Place on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Dan Bucatinsky (Marry Me/Web Therapy/The Comeback) - Dan talks about Second Act on People Now at 12pm.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo discusses the season of giving thanks and the amazing efforts of St. Jude on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


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

The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection Alice - The Complete Eighth Season Step by Step - The Complete Third Season

10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 6th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 7th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 8th Season
10/02 - Ghosted - The Complete First Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Community - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/23 - Alice - The Complete Eighth Season
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Two
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Three
10/31 - The Bad News Bears - The Complete Series - All 26 Episodes
11/01 - Episodes - Season 5
11/05 - Robin Williams - Comic Genius (includes Mork & Mindy)
11/06 - American Dad! - Volume 13
11/16 - Man with a Plan - Season One
11/20 - Step by Step - The Complete Third Season
11/27 - What I Like About You - The Complete Third Season
12/04 - Family Guy - Season Sixteen
12/04 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Sixth Season
12/18 - Our Cartoon President - Season One
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