“The Big Bang Theory” 9×01 – The Matrimonial Momentum

#Dramedy

One of the things that’s bothered me the most about The Big Bang Theory in its nine-year run was the lack of some much-needed emotional beats. The show was great at resetting any character development by the time the episode is closing out, much like Modern Family I guess, but as the years passed by, the gang behind TBBT started notice what an unhealthy decision this was. And then bang: the season 9 premiere happened.

This is hardly a complaint. I enjoyed The Matrimonial Momentum for all its low-key, downbeat moments as the episode focused heavily on not correcting or resetting everything they’d done in the season 8 finale (Sheldon/Amy breaking up, Leonard/Penny heading off to Vegas for a quickie wedding), but rather on exploring this untouched territory even further. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect Sheldon and Amy to reconcile by the end of the episode because that’s just what The Big Bang Theory does usually. And I’d be lying even more if I said I knew Leonard and Penny’s Las Vegas wedding would actually happen.

So both of those things happened. Sheldon and Amy remain broken up, and Leonard and Penny actually got hitched. And yet…something feels a bit off, no?

The show compromised the laughs for its more darker and sadder moments, a highly unexpected move on TBBT’s part. Sure, there were still a few amusing moments like the fact that no one ended up watching Penny and Leonard’s wedding or Sheldon trying to make his friends take his side in the breakup, but in general the episode’s tone felt dramatic. That’s a huge thing for the show to delve into as I’d been begging the writers to tackle heavy material for a long, long time and was particularly disappointed with how they handled Mama Wolowitz’s death last season. But now that I’ve seen how they do it, I might want the laughs back.

It just didn’t feel satisfying to watch Leonard and Penny arguing about 5 minutes into their marriage as we’d been waiting for this pairing to find their happiness for over 8 years. It also didn’t feel satisfying to watch an uncomfortably stalkerish Sheldon pine after Amy, nor was it satisfying to watch Stuart (who’s still on this show for some reason) manipulate the breakup to try to get into Amy’s pants (or whatever it is he really wants). So, for once, I wanted more comedy than drama.

Still, I appreciate the effort and I’m glad these characters have developed a little. But let’s not keep Leonard and Penny away from each other for too long. Not because I’m a dying fan (sometimes I could hardly care any less about this pairing), but because it’s exhausting to watch them circle around each other all the time, knowing that they’re the endgame couple the show wants us to care about.

***NOTES***

-Sheldon: We make everyone feel awkward. That’s our thing!

-Penny: Put us on the internet. I’ve always wanted a wedding with a comments section.

-Sheldon: Some important new information has come to light: women are the worst. I thought it was paper cuts, but I was wrong. No piece of paper ever cut me this deep.

Grade: B-

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“Scream” 1×08 – Ghosts

#MisdirectionDoneWrong

Another week, another ridiculously terrible/boring/unexciting episode of MTV’s wildly unsuccessful Scream. With Ghosts, I realized that the biggest problem of this show is its cast. Surely, they could’ve brought in people who know how to act better than that, right?

Either way, Scream has other problems hanging over its head as well. The second of many being the way it’s trying to mislead us into thinking that the killer who’s been loose over the past few weeks has been finally caught in the closing minutes of this week’s episode. I’m all for misdirection and whatnot, but who really believes that Seth is Ghostface? Especially because they just caught him and because it’s been so freakin’ obvious! So no, Scream. I’m not buying your attempts at misleading us. It’s cheap, unentertaining and boring.

I was also really annoyed with how everyone seemed to cope with Will’s brutal death. I really hated the guy too, mind you, but someone you go to school with was cut in half like 3 seconds ago, fellas! Why the hell are you still out there doing “normal” stuff and being alone in creepily dark rooms? That’s surreal.

And another thing (sigh). I know this MTV and everything, but can we please dial it down with all the pop-cultural references? They’re just so exhausting. No one in real life talks like that on a daily basis, and it really makes Scream “funny” rather than “scary” or whatever it is they’re going for.

One thing Ghosts did do right this time was give us more backstory. It wasn’t exactly a mindblowing shocker to find out that Daisy had a kid with Branson (simply because I still can’t care any less about this whole Branson/Daisy stuff), but it was nevertheless intriguing. Add to that Piper’s exchange with Emma about her “dad” and it does make you wonder whether Piper is Emma’s sibling or not. So, you know, there’s still something to enjoy about Scream.

A very small, small something.

Grade: D+

“Cristela” 1×22 – Movin’ On Up

Grade: A-

I love this show, and I hope it will live to see a second season.

I just felt like I needed to put this out there before I start my review of the season finale of a show that went from being a slightly silly family-comedy that I sometimes to watch to a show that’s right up there alongside some of my favorite new series of the year.

The thing about Cristela that’s so interesting is that it’s never trying to do anything different. It’s as sitcom-ish and classic as Home Improvement–yes, I’m going back that far–and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many shows have attempted this “classic sitcom” trope before and failed miserably, but Cristela somehow makes it work. Well, not somehow: it’s definitely because Cristela Alonzo is a brilliant actress, writer and human being.

What I enjoyed about the finale–and the series as a whole (SO FAR, I hope)–is it didn’t try to end with a shocking albeit ridiculous ending. It was a game-changing ending that definitely changed the status quo of the entire show, but it’s not something that makes you frustrated if ABC executives decide to be horrible people and not renew the series. It’s a delightful finale…a quiet one that still makes the show “go out with a bang”.

I’ve always admired Cristela‘s ability to be both a family-comedy and a work-comedy. More often than not I’ve enjoyed the office-scenes more than the ones at home because I just can’t get enough of the Cristela/Maddie/Josh dynamic, but the finale somehow made the scenes at home feel earned and amusing as well this time. Yes, Cristela may have finally gotten what she’s always wanted almost 3 minutes before the finale ends, but then it all somehow starts crashing down on her–in a good, funny-for-us-horrible-for-her kind of way.

I definitely want to see season two happen. It will be a tragedy if it doesn’t happen, actually. But then again, I thought Trophy Wife was the best new sitcom last year and that didn’t even live to see a second season. So I don’t know if I have my hopes up for Cristela (I do), but it will frustrate me so much to know that I live in a world where something as trashy as Two & A Half Men lives on to 12 years but a delightful, amusing comedy like this one doesn’t.

Please, ABC, if you’re reading: make.it.happen.