Okay, so the latest episode of CBS’s new comedy 9JKL actually got a laugh out of me at least once this episode. Which is an upgrade! A mild, extremely incremental upgrade, but an upgrade nonetheless. I think what worked for me was that Josh was kind of not the emotional centerpiece of the episode. It ended up being his brother Andrew, who until now has just been a cardboard cutout of a dumb egotistical guy. It also paired Josh’s mother Judy and sister-in-law Eve in a B storyline that was a lot better than the “we bought too many bananas” storyline a few episodes, but that’s not saying much.
It started out with Josh returning from grocery shopping, carrying a bag full of items for him and his mother to enjoy that night while they watch this week’s episode of Survivor (CBS, you are a master of self-promoting). Of course he is stopped in the lobby by doorman Nick and sassiest kid ever Ian to be heckled. They look in his bag to find wine, cheese, and a rose. He has a date with him mom! Josh protests, but they’re not buying it. (SIDENOTE: Does this kid Ian not have ANYTHING better to do than hang out with his building’s doorman who is twenty years older than him? Like maybe go outside and run around? Or find a friend his own age if not to go hang out with elsewhere at least to sit with him in the lobby? What is going on here?)
When Josh gets up to his place, he finds that his dad Harry and brother Andrew are getting ready to go play racquetball as they do this time every week. But as it turns out, they’re NOT going to play racquetball. They’re going to order steaks and drink scotch like men, and do it unbeknownst to matriarch Judy, as she would not approve. But Josh wants in! Andrew asks him doesn’t he have his date with mom, and of course he protests once again. He needs to prove that he can get away from his mother and be one of the boys for the evening. Josh goes to her and tells her that Harry basically begged him to come along so he could spend more time with him. And in the meantime, Eve, who also watches Survivor, can keep Judy company! She reluctantly agrees to both.
However, when Josh, Harry, and Andrew get to the bar/restaurant where they always hang out, Josh starts putting his own stamp on the tradition. He wants to sit at a table instead of the bar so the three of them can face one another and chat. He wants to order the sole instead of the porterhouse steak. Andrew is not happy. It doesn’t help that waiters keep walking behind his seat in the tight space and brushing their packages against his back. Josh and Harry end up having a great time. Andrew, not so much.
And at home, Judy oversteps her boundaries with Eve and Andrew’s baby. Eve has brought over the baby monitor from her apartment to watch Survivor in Judy’s. She and Andrew are sleep training their baby so when she hears him cry she does not respond. This is unacceptable to Judy, who ends up sneaking next door and getting the baby to comfort him. Eve lets her know that that is not okay. And that’s pretty much the end of that storyline. However, Eve does mention to Judy that Josh begged Harry and Andrew to let him go with them, which does not stack up to what he told Judy happened. You see where this is going?
When Josh returns home he’s in a world of trouble. They all think they are caught in the lie about going to racquetball, but it was really Josh’s lie about Harry begging him to come. Andrew tries to one-up his brother by being the first to come clean for once and blows up their secret. Andrew also confesses to his brother that he really valued his time with his dad alone and that Josh intruded when he tagged along. Feeling bad, Josh takes the fall for them, saying it was his idea to go get steaks instead of racquetball and that he better stay home and watch Survivor with Judy from now on.
Andrew thanks Josh and adds, “I can see why Mom fell for you,” which got a laugh out of me! Coming in with the good joke in the last thirty seconds is crucial!
And that’s about it for 9JKL! Perhaps the uptick in laughter is a sign the series will find a rhythm soon. Fingers crossed.
Season 1, Episode 4 (S01E04)
9JKL airs Mondays at 830PM on CBS
Paul Gulyas | Contributor