Just Shoot Me! – Season 1

While the first season of Just Shoot Me! is sadly short and mediocre, there’s no denying the show built a wacky, colorful universe in the span of six 20-minute episodes.

There’s something deeply comforting about watching this show, but unlike Newsradio and Less Than Perfect, it’s not just the workplace setting that makes Just Shoot Me! so entertaining and wonderful. The characters are impressively fully realized right off the bat, and the writing is incredibly sharp and witty. Plus, the show never loses sight of its delightful characters no matter how crazy the hijinks it might put them through.

Despite the slightly disappointing finale, there are enough laughs to warrant this season a very deserving B rating. I didn’t care for Maya, Elliot, and Nina being drugged on the special Chinese candy that Jack brought with him to the office, but the heartwarming ending with Maya getting the recognition she’s been so desperately seeking from her father makes up for this wacky subplot, and brilliantly brings this season together to a full circle.

It’s interesting to watch the season close on Maya happily jumping into an elevator with Jack, one that could be infested with poisonous deadly snakes, but she doesn’t care because she finished editing an entire magazine by herself (twice) whereas she was recklessly getting fired in the pilot. It’s a welcome and heartwarming development, and I can’t wait to see where she goes next.

Bits

– I still love the cryptic headlines on the mockup Blush covers in between scenes. So clever!

– I loved Nina’s Birthday because it brought together two seemingly unrelated storylines (Nina being alone on her birthday and Maya wanting to leave the party so badly) in brilliant fashion. These two have a wonderful dynamic, and I can’t wait to see how the show develops this unlikely friendship in the upcoming seasons.

– Elliot taking Maya’s photo for her ID was gripping. The lack of music, the dim lighting, and the brilliantly layered writing…absolutely perfect.

Quotes

Maya: Finch, the copier’s broken again.
Finch: Maybe that black cloud over your head shorted it out.

Jack: You can start by throwing [Nina] a birthday party.
Maya: Oh, big step. Can’t I just start by throwing her from a train, out of a building, something of that sort?

Nina: Wait, now that we’re friends, just let me go in and erase your name from the men’s room wall.

Maya: Why do we even need photo IDs?
Finch: Because otherwise, any lunatic could walk in off the street and do Nina’s job.

Maya: So this is your studio, huh? Shouldn’t there be a sign on the door for the models that says, “You must be this dumb to enter”?

Finch: So, a sex dream? How was I?
Maya: Absent.

Nina: (entering) I’ve still got it!
Finch: (picks up phone) I’ll have the pharmacy send over some more cream.

Jack: Maya!
Maya: What?
Jack: Presents! Here, I saw this and thought of you. (hands her a scarf) The pictures tell the story of a young girl so beautiful, she stole envy from the moon.
Maya: Wow. It’s beautiful. Thanks, dad.
Jack: Here, Nina, I got you one too.

Nina: An article on aging next to an ad for vodka. Problem, solution.

Finch: I don’t want to scare anyone back to their natural hair color, but I just saw a snake on the elevator.

Elliot: About that crazy thing I mentioned about me wanting to be a ballerina, that was between you and me, right?
Maya: You want to be a what?
Elliot: Oh, God. Who did I tell?

Season 1 Rating
B

Just Shoot Me! 1×03 – Secretary’s Day

Episodes like Secretary’s Day make me extremely nostalgic. It’s filled with work hijinks such as Finch refusing to accept he’s just a secretary and Nina testing out breast implants, and it guest stars Jay Leno in a cross-promotional marketing attempt from NBC. Ah, the good old days.

Still, this was much better than the second episode. The fact that the teaser alone gives you everything you need to know about the show’s main plots is a brilliant writing move. Wally answering Maya’s phone for her makes him seem like her secretary, and him yelling out from the balcony “large breasts” is a clue to Nina’s subplot. The writing is truly impressive here.

Another thing that’s immediately lovable about this show is the character dynamics. Nina and Elliot have outstanding moments in this one alone, but it’s Jack and Finch’s final heartwarming sequence where Maya’s dad recognizes his partner of 8 years as more than just a secretary. Sure, he gives him a fake title (Vice President of Section 4), but it’s a nice and hilarious gesture to bookend this episode on.

Bits

– I could have lived without seeing Finch stuck in a cage with a gorilla, but it was a funny gag.

– I cracked up when Finch threw away the glass during his ‘moment’ with Jack at the end. David Spade absolutely kills it with his facial expression here.

– I like that Nina and Maya bond for a brief second as Maya convinces her that she doesn’t need a boob job.

Quotes

Maya: I once did a news report on the dangers of plastic surgery, and do you know what the statistics say?
Nina: Yes, that nine out of 10 men prefer women with big breasts.
Elliot: And the 10th guy preferred the nine other men.

Elliot: You know, for whatever it’s worth, when I was in the fourth grade, I played the king in my school play, and I got so nervous that I started to cry right in the middle of my fight scene.
Finch: So?
Elliot: So…thank God it wasn’t televised. (laughs)

Jack: Man, I love scotch, and not just the taste. I mean the ritual. Pouring it into the perfect glass. Letting the ice melt just enough. (shakes the glass so the ice rattles) Listen to that sound. I love scotch almost as much as I love cigars. Man, I love cigars. The way they smell–you know what I love?
Finch: When the rambling ends.

Rating
B+

Just Shoot Me! 1×02 – The Devil and Maya Gallo

There’s a bit of a tonal difference in the show’s second episode, particularly in the way Maya behaves when she sees the perks of working at her father’s extravagant fashion magazine. Luckily, the writing salvages this bit of uncharacteristic flaw by turning the episode around in the final act. I just love the gang’s meeting at the end where Jack says he wants more articles covering serious matters in the future; as sappy as it might sound, it really works.

Once again, Nina absolutely steals the show. After realizing just how much attention Maya is getting for being the boss’s daughter, she feels threatened and worried about losing her job. Little details like breathing heavily into an expensive purse instead of a plastic bag, hiding alcohol in Raisin Bran boxes, and teasing Finch about how short he is make this subplot a true delight.

Bits

– Hilarious moment as Elliot claps when Jack mentions Maya’s name in the first meeting, then pretends he’s squatting a mosquito.

– I don’t remember Wally, Maya’s roommate, at all, so it’s kind of a surprise he’s making a lot of appearances here. Chris Hogan is quirky and funny, but he does seem like he’s trying too hard sometimes.

– Hysterical moment as Nina is praising Maya after thinking she won’t be working at Blush anymore, only to furiously get up and scream “YOU!” when she sees her walking into the meeting.

Quotes

Jack: Okay, let’s begin the meeting. Photo department?
Elliot: No problem.
Jack: Beauty and fashion?
Nina: Under control.
Jack: Bagels and juice?
Finch: In your office.
Jack: Gosh, this was the best meeting ever.
Maya: Wait, what about my story ideas?
Finch: Shhh, if you say them out loud, they won’t come true.

Nina: She’s new, she’s fresh, she’s got ideas. Yeah, well, the writing’s on the wall and it says “Adios, Nina”. Damn, this was the year I was gonna open a savings account.
Finch: Hey, I’m as upset as you are. I just don’t have the worry lines to prove it.
Nina: One more crack like that, and I’ll put the M&Ms on the high shelf.

Model: Excuse me, do you have the time?
Finch: Why, yes, it’s approximately 2-pretty.

Jack: It’s funny. You hardly ever cried [as a baby].
Maya: Oh, sure I did. It was just hard to hear from the golf course.

Jack: Allie’s at the gym. Apparently, cellulite is more vulnerable at night. I don’t know where she gets the energy.
Maya: Well, she’s on that special program where she’s half your age.

Jack: I know you all probably have questions about Maya’s role here at the magazine.
Elliot: Well, my question is how long till Nina drinks the rest of the Raisin Bran?

Jack: I just happen to think our readers have grown more sophisticated. I know my new wife is smarter than any of the last three.
Finch: And I’m sure the next one will be smarter still.

Rating
B

Just Shoot Me! 1×01 – Back Issues

I absolutely adore this show.

Way before I even discovered Friends, I grew up watching sitcoms that were set in a TV workplace. Just like the highly underrated NewsradioJust Shoot Me! immediately became one of my favorite childhood shows, so much that it made me want to work at a magazine myself one day.

Watching this snappy pilot, I thought I was heading into a premiere full of 90s vibes and nostalgic characters. While both of those things are certainly prevalent in Back Issues, I’m more than shocked to realize just how sharp this show is – right from the start. The writing is unexpectedly nuanced, the humor is right off the bat witty (I’m talking Buffy-like ‘witty’), and the characters immediately fully realized. A part of me feels that I loved this show as a kid because I wanted to be transported to a world of workplace hijinks and, of course, the stunningly charismatic Wendie Malick. I don’t think I even understood half the jokes back then, which will certainly make this rewatch all the more eye-opening.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty of laugh-out-loud sitcoms on the air right now. I’m in love with Superstore and The Good Place, both of which are also NBC comedies (as was Just Shoot Me!), but I can’t help but feel that shows nowadays are highly dependent on the performers. The Good Place has its fair share of witty humor, but Just Shoot Me! made its performers with its sharp writing.

Malick is immediately lovable as Nina Van Horn, the former model and fashion correspondent at Blush magazine, and brilliantly brings this character to life almost seconds after she is introduced. Nina is one of my all-time favorite characters on television and she outshines even Maya during the show’s run. While I don’t really love David Spade nowadays (I detested his entire role on 8 Simple Rules), Dennis/Finch had a couple of amusing lines in this pilot. Also, it’s impressive how little Maya has to do to win us over as the main lead. Laura San Giacomo is charismatic and fits the title role immediately as the writer/journalist who desperately joins her father’s fashion magazine to make ends meet, and she plays off the rest of the lovely cast quite perfectly.

Another thing I absolutely love about this show, and certainly one of the things that make it most memorable for me, is its wildly creative mock-up Blush covers that weigh viewers in on some of the episode’s plots. I always looked forward to reading those headlines and trying to decipher the text; it’s a smart little bit of creative storytelling device that most shows nowadays really lack.

Finally, Just Shoot Me! has a lot of heart. In particular, Maya’s talk with her estranged father at the end of the episode (quoted below) honestly brought tears to my eyes – and how often can we say that about characters we just met?

Bits

– I love the title credits with the pencil breaking at the end. It’s a bit outdated for 2017, sure, but it still warms my heart.

– Hilarious introduction of Nina as she walks in, sunglasses and all, and starts picking at the models.

– You can see some of the crew’s equipment during one shot, especially the microphones floating over the characters’ heads. Oops.

Quotes

Anchorwoman: As I have told you over and over again, it should be “New York city police officials tell me gang violence is down”. That way, I am involved in the story.
Maya: You know, you’re right. People would love to see you involved in gang violence.

Nina: Welcome to Blush, America’s premiere glamor magazine. I am, of course, Nina Van Horn. My face appeared on over 40 covers. I was the Noxema Gotcha girl. You know… Gotcha. (the models just stare at her) Yeah, well, ask your parents.

Nina: Well, I want my old job back, but chances are that’s not gonna happen, but remember, just the fact that you’re here at all is something to be proud of. You’d be amazed at how many girls can’t find the building.

Nina: Honey, I don’t know who your agent is, but you need to grow six inches, lose 20 pounds, and find a hairdresser who gave up cocaine with everyone else.

Nina: You know, dear, you can understand why I didn’t recognize you. I mean, there’s virtually no resemblance.
Maya: Go away.
Nina: Ah, there it is.

Jack: Don’t you have a birthday coming up?
Maya: Yeah, in about 11 and a half months.
Jack: Good, I was afraid I missed it.

Jack: Don’t play innocent. You were heckling our wedding vows.
Maya: You let the woman quote The Lion King!

Maya: It just hit me. You are your magazine. You’re glossy, you’re slick, the cover’s great, when you open it up, there’s nothing inside.
Jack: I’ve got another one for you; I get fat in December.

Maya: Don’t you ever worry about the message you’re sending?
Elliot: (covers his eyes) Oh, hell, you’re one of those.

Finch: (into the phone) Maya says congratulations, but it’s in a tone that connotes disinterest. (Listens) Ooh, 8 pounds, 12 ounces.
Maya: Ouch.
Finch: (into phone) She’s making sport of your courageous wife’s pain. (Listens) Yeah. Blue eyes, dark hair, great lungs.
Maya: Just like Elvis.
Finch: (into phone) She’s comparing the baby to a bloated drug addict.

Jack: I’m terrified I’m gonna make the same mistakes with her that I made with you.
Maya: Then don’t. You know, there’s nothing magic about it. That’s your daughter in there. When she holds out her arms, pick her up. When she has a dance recital, don’t be in a meeting. And when she tries to push you away, don’t let her. It’s not what she really wants. Make her a part of your life. The rest will fall into place.

Rating
B+