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

Thursday, February 22

The Big Bang Theory - "The Proton Regeneration" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon goes head-to-head with Wil Wheaton for the role of the new Professor Proton. Also, Penny steps in to take care of Halley when Bernadette and Wolowitz both wind up on bed rest.

Young Sheldon - "An Eagle Feather, A String Bean, and an Eskimo" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Sheldon moves to Dallas to attend a school for gifted children, the family struggles to cope with his absence.

The Big Bang Theory - "The Geology Methodology" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon and Bert collaborate on a research project, despite Sheldon’s embarrassment. Also, Penny and Bernadette coach Koothrappali on how to navigate his relationship with Ruchi (Swati Kapila).

Mom - "Fish Town and Too Many Thank You's" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Bonnie is suspicious when her brother, Ray (Leonard Roberts), returns from rehab and strikes up a friendship with Adam, and Christy and Bonnie have a brush with the law when they take Ray’s fancy car for a joy ride.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 19)

Thursday, February 22

  • Christine Baranski (Cybill/Welcome to New York/Happy Family) - Catch Christine on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Constance Zimmer (Entourage/Good Morning, Miami) - Constance appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Mo'Nique (The Parkers) - Mo'Nique discusses her headline-making fight for pay equality on The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce/Sex and the City/Square Pegs) - Sarah stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Shiri Appleby (Girls/Sunday Dinner) - Shiri talks about UnREAL on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • David Arquette (In Case of Emergency/Double Rush/Parenthood) - David drops by ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. He opens up about marriage and fatherhood and gives a sneak peek at his new documentary Survivors Guide to Prison on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings. He will also be on the BUILD Series at 11am.
  • The Cast of Andi Mack - Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Sofia Wylie, Joshua Rush and Lilan Bowden discuss their special one-hour episode Cyrus' Bash-Mitzvah! on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Lori Loughlin (Fuller House/Hudson Street/Full House) - Lori appears on E!'s Daily Pop at 12pm.
  • Joel McHale (The Great Indoors/Community) - Joel dishes on his new Netflix show on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James talks about Hallmark Channel's Royal Hearts on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Saffron Burrows (Mozart in the Jungle) - Saffron talks about Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


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

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
01/09 - Girlfriends - The Complete Series
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest