We’ve reached the official point where BLUNT TALK has gone full 90s screwball comedy. It’s been there for almost all of this season, but it really took me having to see Walter and Harry in drag with a gun pointed at them and a “To Be Continued” card after, to really let that sink in. Episode nine, the penultimate episode of season two, has finally cemented what this show is, and will be going forward if it gets picked up for a third season: a wacky farce with even wackier characters, set in the world of journalism.
I didn’t particularly like this episode, finding the jokes a bit flat, and just overall that the zany set ups didn’t have enough wit in the dialogue to keep them going. I thought that was most apparent during the “surrealist party” our gang end up in by the episode’s end. There’s a lot of little jokes but the writing never quite matches up, and that’s true through the whole episode. I know in the past I argued that the show needs to pick a direction and follow it, and it doesn’t seem they’ve chosen one now. But boy do I wish they had gone the other way with it and just kept it smaller and more focused on the characters.
This episode in specific did everything it could to forget about its characters and focus on the LA drought storyline. And that should come as no surprise given the the writers had walked themselves into a corner by keeping this plot point lingering over nine episodes without making much of it. So, now we get saddled with a two parter that leaves off with the wholly unnecessary To Be Continued cliffhanger. My prediction right now is that this gets cleared up quickly into the season finale and the rest of the episode will be spent dealing with Shelley’s rising popularity and Walter’s seeming decline. At the time of writing this the show hasn’t been picked up for a third season, so we’ll see what the show runners choose to do given such uncertainty, but I think that option matches up with what they’ve been doing up to this point.
I was reminded of how much this season has separated itself from season one when Rosalie mentions her husband Ted for the first time in episodes. You might remember Ted being played by Ed Begley Jr. who in season one is diagnosed with dementia and is sent off to live with relatives where he can be comfortable by the start of season two. Rosalie dealing with this was my character plot of season one, but that was completely sacrificed for a more out there plot set up and more cartoonishly written characters. In this episode, Rosalie mentions how much she misses him but then quickly jumps to Martin and his worries, completely taking the air out of any feelings she may have for her husband.
Martin having a baby with Rosalie two is also the kind of thing I’d expect from a 90s sitcom, down to him fainting like Fred Flintstone at the sound of bad news. I’m assuming we’ll see more of this next week, but I really don’t think the show is ready or needy enough to be jamming in a pregnancy storyline. The one positive from it I thought was the scene between he and Jim where Jim is supposed to console him but then instead discusses the merits of pregnancy from a micro-penis. It’s again the kind of scene that convinces me Timm Sharp is the best comedic actor of the bunch. He has a very sincere way of selling the most ridiculous circumstances and he adds grounding to a scene that is flanked by silliness on either end.
The others meanwhile are just sort of waiting around for the plot train to pick them up. Shelley barks orders as the newest anchor of Blunt Talk, which culminates with her sleeping with Bob, something I’m sure is going to come back next week. And then Jim Celia get to join Walter and Harry on their adventure to the Rudolph’s mansion, birdcages and escorts a plenty.
And the Rudolph surrealist party set up is worth a chuckle. Opening up the door to the room of clowns did crack me up, but the scene in general is sort of toothless. It’s a bit of a problem when you have to call out a joke to make sure people get it in the way Celia mentions the Audrey Hepburn costume and is then seen wearing it. In any case, the final reveal is so hamfisted obvious that I was happy to get a few laughs out of their walk through the house.
We have returning guest stars Brett Gelman and Mary Steenburgen, both whom I love but who have nothing do to in this episode besides show their faces for a quick second. The newcomer this time is Stacey Keach playing the network owner, who in a scene modeled from “Network,” tells Walter he’s nothing more than a shill. This would’ve been a better scene if the show were actually about journalism and Walter as a journalist. But at this point we’re so far gone it again lacks the bite that Stacey Keach is so excellent at playing.
Looking at this episode and these two seasons as a whole, I’m starting to wonder if the failure of the show to find a tone a problem of the differing senses of humor of Jonathan Ames and Seth MacFarlane. I don’t know to what extent MacFarlane is getting his input in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the culprit.
Season 2, Episode 9 (S02E09)
Show Titles airs Sunday at 830PM on Starz
Greg Brecher | Contributor