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 (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

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
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, September 21

The Big Bang Theory - "The Long Distance Dissonance" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The gang is concerned when Sheldon’s former admirer, Dr. Ramona Nowitzki (Riki Lindhome), resurfaces while Amy is away at Princeton.

Mom - "A Few Things and a Hawaiian Funeral" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Christy and Jill take Emily to see her biological mother, Natasha (Missi Pyle), in rehab where they make a surprising discovery, and Bonnie watches Adam’s dog while he’s out of town.

The Big Bang Theory - "The Recollection Dissipation" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon pushes himself to the limit when he collaborates on projects with Leonard and Wolowitz as well as Amy on the same day. Also, Bernadette is nearing the end of her maternity leave and must return to work.

Mom - "Lockjaw and a Liquid Diet" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Christy tries to help when Bonnie gets into trouble with the IRS but, realizing she’s in over her head, she encourages Bonnie to seek help from her newfound brother, Ray (Leonard Roberts).

The Guest Book - "Story Nine" (TBS, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Jacob, an Amish kid on Rumspringa, follows the signs to God's Country and ends up at the cabin, where he is convinced God is directing him to meet the love of his life in any way possible.

Better Things - "Rising" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam clears her head.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of September 18)

Thursday, September 21

  • Dave Franco (Scrubs/Do Not Disturb) - Catch Dave on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory/Young Sheldon) - Jim appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Kaitlin Olson (The Mick/It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) - Kailtin is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 1:45pm.
  • Kyle MacLachlan (Sex and the City) - Kyle visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Amy Landecker (Transparent/The Paul Reiser Show) - Amy stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Minnie Driver (Speechless/About a Boy) - Minnie chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Essence Atkins (Marlon/Mr. Box Office/Are We There Yet?/Half & Half/Smart Guy) - Essence appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and Zach Woods (Silicon Valley/Playing House/The Office) - Kumail and Zach are guests on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
  • Pamela Adlon (Better Things/The King of Queens/The Facts of Life) - Pamela appears on the AOL Build Show at 1pm.
  • Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie) - Peter is a guest on Steve, so check your local listings.