This season, Tuesday night is a sitcom traffic jam in primetime, with three of the four big networks airing comedies all against each other on the same night. Let's take a look at last night's shows, including new episodes of Happy Endings, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Ben and Kate, and Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.
Happy Endings – "P&P Romance Factory"
CLAY: This week's episode, "P&P Romance Factory," seemed a little slow. Even though we got three separate storylines, none of them really stood out. The best story was probably Penny and Alex's, thanks to Casey Wilson's excellent delivery, while Max and Dave's fist bump story heavily relied on Drunk Dave, and Jane and Brad suffered through a role reversal struggle.
The episode's cold open features Max sharing some of his stand-up jokes from when he was in the fifth grade. My personal favorite was "Little girls be sharin'." We then learn that Jane is not relating well to her coworkers. Brad suggests that he and Jane throw a party for her coworkers and their wives, where Brad can act as a "guy guide, a guyde! oh, nope, already a word." Brad ends up bonding with the other stay-at-home wives, while Jane finds she can relate to her coworkers through complaining about Brad. "I wish I could train him to not spend so much money on gossip magazines." Eventually, Brad discovers that Jane is talking badly about him at work and tries to get into the the character of a trophy wife. This means that Brad visits the Car Czar dressed in his best country club attire and donning a feminine voice, bringing along his new pet pig. Brad's show interferes with the car sales, and he and Jane talk it out, agreeing they should be supporting each other as a team instead of complaining about each other. This storyline was heavily carried by Rob Corddry's car czar character and his constant insults to his wife.
Meanwhile, Penny has to deal with a month in a helmet, because of her concussion. She ends up meeting a great guy named Pete, and Alex tries to help her come up with some dates like moped training courses and picnics in a construction zone. She ends up deciding to break up with Pete, but she tells him the truth, and what do you know, Pete doesn't care about the helmet. Finally, Max butts heads with a typical jerk named Brody (Jon Daly) when his fist bump is turned around on him and Brody turns it into a turkey by quickly switching to a high-five. I cannot believe I just had to explain that concept, which reflects how I feel about this storyline. Brad becomes very heated about this because when he was young, someone gave him a "down low, too slow." "School would no longer be a safe place for me to shake hands." Dave then reveals that he invented "down low, too slow" back in the fifth grade, "the rhyme spilled from my lips like poison: too slow." After Brad and Alex find Dave drinking away his guilt, Dave teaches Max how to combat the turkey, and Max faces his enemy once more, announcing "It's Thanksgiving" and severing their hands.
New Girl – "Bathtub"
SAMANTHA: Admit it: bathtubs are the best. Jess knows it – that’s why she’s trying to convince the guys to get one. Winston knows it, too – that’s why, after Schmidt and Nick veto her proposal (citing aversion to “medieval filth cauldrons” and “simmering in testicle tea”), he suggests a secret rooftop tub, for secret soaking. It seems like a perfect idea, until the ancient claw-foot model they get tips over, leaking water through the roof and onto Schmidt’s suits. It’s a very specific unfortunate incident, since Schmidt, in the pursuit of a high-paying gig marketing vitamin vodka, has been instructed to dress his best (and has spent probably hours leafing through his binder of modeling shots, picking the perfect look). Jess and Winston get the ceiling fixed and send the suits to the cleaners, but don’t want to get blamed for the flood, so – like anyone would do – they trash the apartment and claim they were robbed by meth heads. It’s a perfect plan, until Schmidt starts scrolling through his security camera footage to ID the perps. Winston gets the full-on willies at the prospect of getting caught (and, when Jess tries to console him, she ends up having a claustrophobic meltdown in a closet), but in the end, they manage to pull off the perfect “crime” – faking a second break-in and claiming that the meth heads returned Schmidt’s meticulously dry-cleaned clothes.
Under normal circumstances, Schmidt would probably fall for it pretty easily, but after finding out that Cece dumped commitment-phobic Robbie, he’s too distracted to even question Jess and Winston’s shaky story. He’s determined to get Cece back, showing up at her apartment with a pigeon (in lieu of a more romantic, but harder to procure dove) and telling her he wants to spend his life with her, even if it means starting a family sooner rather than later. Despite the threat of Mama Cece’s disapproval (“She hates Jews — she really hates them”), things seem like they might finally work out between these two. Until Schmidt’s big presentation turns into a vodka taste test, and he shows up for their reconciliation date completely drunk. Down at the bar, Nick’s breaking his One Rule (“never cross the bar”) thanks to Thirsty Mendelsohn, a.k.a. Angie (a.k.a. Olivia Munn), a regular customer who shares his loves of surliness, eye-rolling, and day drinking. After Nick advises her to ditch her obnoxious boyfriend, he finds himself in a strip club, waiting for a janitor to revive up Angie’s unconscious ex, whose irate (stripper) wife attacks (also stripper) Angie – exactly the kind of shit that goes down when you cross the bar. Despite the serious weirdness, Nick and Angie end up hitting it off (which means we’ll be seeing more of Ms. Munn this season), but sadly, things don’t work out quite as well for Schmidt; it turns out, the only thing worse than having your mom set you up, is having a drunk guy pass out on your lap. Cece seems determined to settle down, and Schmidt – while he’s definitely getting better (he got drunk to get a gig that would pay for his hypothetical kids’ college!) — is not quite husband and/or dad material just yet (he got drunk to get a gig that would pay for his hypothetical kids’ college.)
The Mindy Project – "Two to One"
BRADFORD: So, apparently, Stephen Tobolowsky isn't on The Mindy Project anymore. The veteran character actor, who plays Dr. Shulman, has been part of the main cast since the pilot but has only appeared in two episodes, and in last night's show, the writers quickly and sloppily wrote him out via a letter explaining his retirement. Shulman's retirement also signals a big shift in The Mindy Project that changes the show's premise a little bit: now, Mindy, Danny Castellano, and Jeremy are now partners in the OB/GYN firm, running the place together in the wake of Dr. Shulman's departure. This is just part of Mindy Project's midseason retooling in addition to a casting change that will take effect sometime in the next few episodes. That said, Mindy, Danny, and Jeremy running the firm together works well in "Two to One," and it might be just the change the show needs to kick things into high-gear.
On their first day as partners, Mindy, Danny, and Jeremy are struggling to keep their patients following Dr. Shulman's exit, losing a lot of clientele to a pair of midwives upstairs (played by sibling filmmaking duo Jay and Mark Duplass). Danny and Jeremy try everything they can to prevent their patients from leaving for their holistic foes, and with Mindy off on what she calls "Best Friend Day," they're sorely lacking her leadership abilities. Thanks to a series of emergency calls and texts from Betsy, Best Friend Day gets interrupted and Mindy rushes back to the office and amazingly solves everyone's problems in a tidy sitcom wrap-up, winning all their patients back from the Duplass Brothers. While The Mindy Project continues finding itself on its feet over these next few episodes, the changes presented in last night's show (Shulman's exit and the main trio becoming partners) seem like smart (but late) moves that could help the show become more focused.
Ben and Kate – "The Trip"
BRADFORD: On this week's Ben and Kate, the trouble all starts when Kate discovers her new-ish man Will comes from money. Not that Kate has a problem with that, but everyone else in her life (especially Ben) seems to. Ben and Kate aren't one-percenters like Will and because of this, Ben resents folks like him, who are financially blessed. This leads Ben to invite himself (and Maddie) along on Kate and Will's camping trip. Actually, Will invites Ben. He's five episodes deep into his relationship with Kate, so he knows what to expect from her brother by now and that Ben'll invite himself along if he doesn't do so. Ben and Will's class war continues throughout the camping trip, eventually causing Will to tell Kate he doesn't like her crazy wacky brother and her crazy wacky friends BJ and Tommy, which in turn causes Kate to kick him to the curb and end the guy who plays Will's character arc on Ben and Kate.
Meanwhile, BJ becomes concerned with Tommy's longstanding obsession with Kate and decides to try to help him find a new love interest because she's eyeing Will's money and doesn't want Tommy to jeopardize her fortune by coming in between Kate and Will. She sets Tommy up on a series of blind speed dates that don't go so hot. It looks like Tommy's never going to find love until he meets an attractive young lady (Brittany Snow) walking a dog and things turn around for him. This B-plot makes good use of Tommy and BJ, two of the show's supporting characters whose relationship with one another hasn't been explored yet. It's nice to see these two getting a little more screentime in "The Trip" and for Tommy to get to play some emotion instead of just serving as comic relief like in past weeks. The Ben and Kate ensemble has really gelled over the first half of the season in a way that many new sitcoms this year haven't, and I'm looking forward to seeing the show continue to play to its strengths from here.
Don't Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 – "Whatever It Takes…"
CLAY: In "Whatever It Takes…" we get to see the lengths that June is willing to go to get a job on Wall Street, what happens to Chloe when she is drunk too many nights in a row, and James's preparations for Dancing With the Stars. Overall, this episode is fairly strong, with many great one-liners from Krysten Ritter, as usual, as well as a funny relationship between James and June's mom.
The episode begins with a celebration of June's new job at Sharp Financial Management, and are then taken back a week earlier to see if June "had any regrets" on getting this job. Chloe and June both accuse each other of being addicts: Chloe to partying and June to eating alone and watching Jeopardy. Chloe tells June she is doing it for the connections and convinces June to come with her to try and get a job on Wall St. June gets fed up with the jerks at the bar, but Chloe drunkenly sleeps with Trey Sharp (Tom Lennon) of Sharp Financial, and convinces him to hire June. June is ecstatic and goes in for her interview, only to find that Trey is a goofy man who suffered a brain injury. She also learns that she will not get hired if Chloe and Trey stop seeing each other. This leads June to try and get Chloe drunk every time she is supposed to see Trey, so that she still thinks he is "hot." At the celebration of June's hiring, Chloe comes uninvited and switches from martini goggles to money goggles, still infatuated with Trey. June ends up declining the job and convincing Chloe to stop trying to sleep with Trey.
Elsewhere, James seeks the aid of June's mom in his preparation for Dancing with the Stars. He ends up getting paired with Angie Beckencourt, who has famously lost DWTS 8 times. James tries bribing Dean Cain with a Mexican timeshare to switch partners, but is without luck. June's mom suggests he help fund Angie's self-produced eskimo movie. He does this, and she leaves for the arctic, meaning James will have to get a new partner.
Bradford Evans is Splitsider's Associate Editor.
Clay Sublett is a professional writer, an Emmy-winning actor, and a liar.
Samantha Pitchel writes about and watches comedy in Austin and Los Angeles.