Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: The Mindy Project 1x03, "In the Club"

When I reviewed The Mindy Project's pilot a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the show didn't quite live up to my expectations and that I was hoping for improvement in future episodes. While The Mindy Project still has some growing to do, I do feel that the show has made some strides in the two episodes following the pilot.

Last's night's episode, "In the Club," featured a club night outing for Mindy and her coworkers. I didn't completely love the episode, but it was pretty fun and wisely fleshed out some of the supporting characters. Because "In the Club's" primary accomplishment was allowing us to get a better idea of who these characters are, I'm going to spend most of this review talking about them.

One of the biggest surprises to come out of last night was that I realized I'm warming up to Danny. I was pretty harsh on him in my review of the pilot. While he was somewhat more likeable in the second episode, I enjoyed Danny far more in this episode. I was expecting him to spend the whole episode feeling like a fish out of water in the club setting, but it was a good choice to let him dance and show off his fun side. Given that The Mindy Project is deeply rooted in the romantic comedy genre, it's important that the leading man be likable. While the writers have some work to do before I'm fully team Danny, "In the Club" proved that Danny can be more than a jerk who tells Mindy to lose fifteen pounds.

I was somewhat surprised that Morgan was added to the work crew last week. While I found him pretty funny, he seemed more like a ridiculous one-off character. However, I surprisingly enjoyed his pretending to be an attendant in the bathroom. I think the writers are going to have to be careful not to let Morgan get too out there if he's going to be a regular part of the show (Moments like the roofie joke are a little much for me and err on the wrong side of the line between endearing weirdo and overly broad caricature.), but he can actually be pretty funny and fits into the group better than I expected.

I don't really have strong opinions about Shauna or Betsy, but it was nice to see them get more than a line or two in this episode. Jeremy, on the other hand, is just a weak link in the cast. I felt no connection to his character, and frankly, I find him cliche and grating. In both this week's and last week's episodes, his storylines have been somewhat disconnected from the main cast (other than a pep talk from Morgan this week) and could have easily been cut without much of a effect on the episode. Because I've managed to warm up a bit to Danny after hating him in the pilot, I'm not going to say that Jeremy is a completely unsalvageable character. However, the writers need to majorly retool him and figure out how to use him or cut him out completely.

While Mindy's coworkers got some additional screen time in this episode, Mindy's sister friend Gwen only had one brief scene. I was excited to see Anna Camp in the cast list when The Mindy Project premiered, but she's been underused so far. Given that this was a very contained episode focused on Mindy's work crowd, it's understandable that this wasn't a Gwen-heavy episode. Still, I'd love to see her used as more than one-an-episode sounding board for Mindy.

Steven Tobolowsky's character Marc Shulman was also missing from the episode. While I think Tobolowsky is great, he got enough screen time last week that I didn't really miss him.

"In the Club" was a very loose episode and light on plot. While plot-light episodes can be great, in this case, it felt a little bit scattered. There were a couple of stories thrown in like Mindy's ovaries before brovaries (sorry, I can't resist a Parks and Recreation reference) dilemma, Jeremy's seduction of a bachelorette, Shauna's infatuation with Danny (This felt a bit hasty, considering that he won her over solely with his sweet dance moves. This isn't Grease, you guys. Then again, Danny kind of won me over with his sweet dance moves. So who am I to judge?), and Morgan's imitation of a bathroom attendant, but they felt uneven and disjointed.

Still there were plenty of jokes and fun moments scattered throughout the episode to make it worth watching. I loved Mindy quizzing the NBA players and Josh on their favorite Tom Hanks rom-com.

Speaking of Josh, I'm kind of intrigued by his character. He gave off creepy vibes, and I was fully expecting his storyline to take a "jerk who's trying to take advantage of Mindy" path. However, his gift of a limo ride home and return of Mindy's pashmina suggested otherwise. IMDB suggests that Josh will return in a future episode. While I'm not sure what the writers were going for with his character, I have to say that I'm intrigued.

"In the Club" was a fun installment of The Mindy Project and provided some much needed character development. I'm finding it hard to unbiasedly judge the show because I'm watching through Mindy-Kaling-loving glasses, but I feel like it's on its way to becoming to a really fun show.

Edit 11/21: I'm not sure why I assumed Mindy and Gwen were sisters, but apparently that's not the case. I've corrected my mistake above.

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