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 (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Saturday, October 1

The Good Place - "Pilot" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Thanks to some kind of error, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), an ordinary woman, enters the afterlife and is sent to the Good Place -- which is definitely not where she belongs. While hiding in plain sight from Michael (Ted Danson), the wise architect of the Good Place who is unaware that he's made a mistake, she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome person within. Helping Eleanor navigate her new surroundings are Chidi (William Jackson Harper), her kind, open-hearted "soulmate" who sees the good in people but finds himself facing quite a dilemma; her frustratingly perfect new neighbors, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto); and Janet (D'Arcy Carden), a walking, talking source for all the knowledge in the universe.

The Good Place - "Flying" (NBC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) tries to prove to Chidi (William Jackson Harper) that she is worthy of his help. Meanwhile, Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) try to help Michael (Ted Danson) feel better about the unknown flaw in his Neighborhood.

The Good Place - "Tahani Al Jamil" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Chidi (William Jackson Harper) begins formally teaching Eleanor (Kristen Bell) about ethics, and lesson No. 1 is: be kind to your neighbor. Michael (Ted Danson) and Janet (D'Arcy Carden) help Chidi find a new, exciting hobby.

The Good Place - "Jason Mendoza" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) faces her toughest test yet in her attempt to remain in hiding. Meanwhile, Michael (Ted Danson) enlists Tahani (Jameela Jamil) to help a fellow neighbor fulfill her true purpose.

Henry Danger - "Scream Machine" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Charlotte's invention for The Gizmo Show is accidentally destroyed and then rebuilt, Charlotte worries that the attention she gets could expose Kid Danger and Captain Man's secret identity.

Game Shakers - "The Very Old Finger" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The Game Shakers visit a mummy exhibit to get ideas for a new game they're working on. Hudson accidentally snaps off one of its fingers. Babe leads a quest to glue it back on without getting caught.

School of Rock - "With or Without You" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Lawrence tries to prove his value to the group by taking over the production of their first recording, but his methods create a rift in the band. Guest Star: Brec Bassinger

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 3)

Sunday, October 2

  • Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Catch Mindy on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
Monday, October 3
  • Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project/The Office) - Watch Mindy on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens/Anything But Love) - Jamie Lee visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Brendon Small (Home Movies) - Steve and Brendon are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight.
  • Kevin Nealon (Weeds/Champs/Hiller and Diller) - Kevin stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan & Kel) - Kenan drops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Chris Gethard (Broad City) - Chris chats about the play Career Suicide on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Abigail Spencer (Burning Love) - Abigail talks about Timeless on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 2pm. She is a guest on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
  • Nicole Byer (Loosely, Exactly Nicole) - Nicole is a guest on Steve Harvey, so check your local listings.
  • Rob Riggle (Golan the Insatiable) - Rob talks about Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso talks how many America's Funniest Home Videos get submitted and the funny home videos he wants to submit with his family on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who?/Spin City) - Jennifer is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Sara Rue (Impastor/Less Than Perfect) - Sara appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Jay Ellis (Insecure/The Game) - Jay is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.