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, April 24

Roseanne - "Twenty Years to Life" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During the first half-hour episode of the season premiere, Roseanne and Dan adjust to living under the same roof with Darlene and her two children, Harris and Mark, when Darlene loses her job. Meanwhile, Becky announces she is going to be a surrogate to make extra money; and Roseanne and Jackie are at odds with one another.

Roseanne - "Dress to Impress" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
During the second half-hour episode, Darlene’s son, Mark, gets caught with a pocket knife after being bullied on the first day of his new school. Meanwhile, Becky invites Andrea over to meet the family and is nervous to bring her home.

Roseanne - "Eggs Over, Not Easy" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
A crucial moment for Becky’s surrogacy arrangement forces her and Darlene to critically assess each other’s lives. Meanwhile, an animal rescue organization rejects Jackie’s application to adopt a puppy; and Roseanne makes a plan to change their mind.

Roseanne - "Darlene v. David" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
David unexpectedly shows up for Harris’ birthday after being absent for years, forcing Darlene to re-examine their relationship and the rest of the family. Meanwhile, Roseanne and Jackie’s mother, Bev, temporarily moves into the Conner home after an incident at the nursing home prevents her from returning.

LA to Vegas - "Captain Dave's on a Roll" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
In a depressed state after breaking up with Patricia, Dave agrees to go gambling with Artem and Colin while the others cover for him when he runs late to do his job; Ronnie has difficulties deciding whether to move in with Bryan or not.

New Girl - "Lillypads" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Schmidt asks Jess to help prepare Ruth for an interview to get into a prestigious pre-school; Nick begins procrastinating with his writing; Winston gets ready to confront his specific fear of appearing in court to testify.

The Last O.G. - "Swipe Right" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Cousin Bobby convinces Tray to try a popular dating app; he lands a great match but realizes that he's not emotionally ready for a new relationship.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 23)

Tuesday, April 24

  • Kevin James (Kevin Can Wait/The King of Queens) - Catch Kevin on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Hank Azaria (Brockmire/The Simpsons/Free Agents) - Hank is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Judy Greer (Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided/Arrested Development) - Judy appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Zach Braff (Alex, Inc./Scrubs) - Zach visits Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Alia Shawkat (Search Party/Arrested Development) - Alia stops by Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) and Mark Consuelos (Alpha House/Hope & Faith) - Kelly and Mark are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Fuller House/Full House) - Candace chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Henry Winkler (Happy Days/Monty/Out of Practice/Arrested Development) - Henry speaks about the series Barry on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • T.R Knight (Charlie Lawrence) - T.R. appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Aubrey Anderson-Emmons (Modern Family) - Aubrey is a guest on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Biggs (Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason and his wife Jenny Mollen are guests on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Molly Ringwald (Townies/The Facts of Life) - Molly talks about her new film All These Moments on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Ali Wentworth (Nightcap) - Ali talks about her new book Go Ask Ali on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Chris Rock (Everybody Hates Chris) - Chris and Adam Sandler talk about The Week of on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Lori Loughlin (Fuller House/Hudson Street/Full House) - Lori is a guest on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi cooks up something delicious with Michael Symon on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March/April)

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season One Day at a Time - Season Two Perfect Strangers  - The Complete Third Season

02/06 - All in the Family - Seasons 1-5
02/06 - Bosom Buddies - The Complete Series
02/06 - Women of the House - Complete 12 Episode Series
02/13 - Broad City - Season 4
02/13 - Three's Company - The Complete Series - Come and Knock on Our Door Collection
02/27 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season
02/27 - Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season
02/27 - Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season
03/06 - Atlanta - The Complete First Season
03/06 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season
03/13 - The New Adventures of Old Christine - The Complete First Season
03/27 - One Day at a Time - Season Two
04/03 - Ballers - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/03 - 90's Sitcom (Just Shoot Me!/The Larry Sanders Show/Wings) Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle
04/10 - Vice Principals - The Compelte Series
04/17 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest