Tweetable Takeaway: The series progresses in unpredictable ways, while reminding us of why we’re watching.
Airtime: Sunday at 9 on Fox
By: Bryan Kastelan, Contributor
We have received two new episodes of the series last night. Though the first was stronger, both were able to deliver consistent laughs, while making Phil redeemable again. Near the beginning of the episode, Phil asks if he could have a do-over. At this point in the series, the audience is feeling the same. We’ve been stuck in the same plot for four episodes now. It has been enjoyable, but one more episode of Phil pining over Melissa would have been the nail in the coffin.
Then, out of nowhere, Phil’s wish is answered, giving us new characters to complicate the plot. Two women named Erica and Gail appear. Mary Steenburgen and Cleopatra Coleman are welcome additions to the cast, bringing strong comedic chops with them. In a new situation where Phil sees a chance to pretend to be a widower and run off with the new women, Will Forte is given his most hilarious moments in the series so far. His deadpan act is finally given the perfect material to thrive off of. The first offering of the night ends in a spectacular cringe worthy scene that sees Phil confronted by his choices in an embarrassing finale that sees everything converge. An extremely well plotted and strongly paced episode has given life back to the series.
I can’t help but to think that airing one episode per week would strengthen the series though. The second episode was given a ton to live up to. Coming off of the momentum of the hilarious final scene of the previous episode placed an immediate damper on the follow up. All of the women in the series are mad at Phil. No surprise there. For the first time in the series, seeing Phil talk to the sports balls at the bar has overstayed its welcome. This is because it takes up the majority of the episode. A few clever gags saved the second offering last night. The best being Phil’s gut busting attempt to act like his own twin brother to get another shot at being accepted.
Wait. Did the series finally make Phil very redeemable? Yes it did. I can’t express how happy I am that the show returned to having a quiet moment near the end last night. Phil finally comes to terms with the fact that he has been acting like garbage. The strongest scene of the second episode sees Phil admitting his mistakes to the entire ensemble. We get a real down to Earth moment with the group. Character stereotypes are off the table, and it feels refreshing. This is the clever dose of heart that the series originally promised.
The series is playing a game where it goes back and forth between the groundbreaking and the overdone. Recently picked up for season two, I can’t help but to think that the crew are saving some of their best ideas for later plot points. It is tough to be devoted to a series that promises to deliver one day. With hilarious performances, I’m still invested in the show, but consistency is becoming key. We will have to see how the final three episodes of the season are. Over all, last night was a redeemable one for the series. I’m rooting for it because it still has some of the most clever writing on network television. Keeping the audience on board for a second season is a feat that I’m curious to see how they try to pull off.
Bryan Kastelan is an avid fan of film and television. He is a screenwriter that dabbles in music and comedy. He has a degree in film studies and creative writing, and is a pop culture junkie. He would be great on a film and music version of Jeopardy.