by Julian Spivey
For two years while raving about Fox’s ratings-challenged “The Mindy Project” to just about everybody I knew I’ve often compared star Mindy Kaling to Tina Fey, which I believe to be the highest of compliments you can give to a modern female comic. I call Kaling today’s Fey because she can do everything … she created, stars in and writes her own sitcom and does each one of them to perfection.
Despite being the least watched sitcom on television when you look at the outdated, but still used Nielsen ratings the show has been miraculously picked up by the network for a third season. This can only be for one reason … it’s incredibly good and Fox knows it has something special. In fact, “The Mindy Project” has been the very best sitcom on television during its two year run.
Not only has Kaling crafted a show that I believe is the top comedy currently on the tube, but I believe it’s also the most romantic comedy, and maybe show, on television. “The Mindy Project” definitely pays homage, while still occasionally poking fun at the romantic comedy/chick flick genre. The friendship headed toward budding relationship between Kaling’s Dr. Mindy Lahiri and Chris Messina’s Dr. Danny Castellano was a key part of the beauty and hilarity of season two.
Earlier in the season the two had finally revealed feelings for each other in the fantastic culmination to the episode “The Desert” where the two make out on a plane from Phoenix to New York. Then when the series returned from a little over two month hiatus in April the two got together for a short-lived relationship that seemed to come and go in record pace for a sitcom. This was because Danny knew he really liked Mindy and couldn’t bear losing her as a close friend. But, a few episodes later he realizes he made a major mistake and wants to get her back.
In the season two finale “Danny and Mindy,” you just know a conclusion to the “will they or won’t they” storyline is coming with an episode title like that, the two are riding on a subway when Mindy spots a cute guy and the two have a little moment. Then lo and behold Mindy is reading a “Missed Connections” type segment of a publication and sees that this mystery guy is trying to contact her. It’s not long before we find out that this “mystery guy” is actually Danny attempting to be romantic and surprise Mindy in a rom-com manner that she would find alluring.
The whole thing fails miserably and Mindy is furious that Danny tricked her. He tells her that he did it all because he’s in love with her and to prove it will be waiting for her on top of the Empire State Building, a la “Sleepless in Seattle.” She refuses to go, but the staff of Shulman & Associates persuades her to do so. This is before they all hilariously find out that Danny isn’t actually on top of the Empire State Building. He went and stayed for an hour before figuring she wasn’t going to show. This leads to a hilarious send-up of rom-com clichés where both Mindy and Danny are bolting to meet each other atop the building. One of my favorites moments of the episode is that Danny’s sprint to the building is done with Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” playing in the background, which is a nice callback to Springsteen being a hero of Danny’s and just plain awesome because I would want Springsteen playing over my sprint if I were in the same situation. But, I digress.
When Danny met Mindy she was heaving and about to pass out on the ground after having to walk up a flight of stairs due to the elevators being down for repairs, in hilarious ‘Mindy Project’ style. The two realize their love for each other and the season ends beautifully with the two embracing each other in a kiss.
I am incredibly grateful to Fox for bringing network television’s funniest comedy back for at least one more season, especially because I didn’t think the series had a shot in Hell at survival giving its ratings. It’s nice to see a network rebuke the ratings for a change in favor of a show they believe in.
I do think it would be a good idea for Fox to allow “The Mindy Project” on Netflix like it does with “New Girl” to help its chances of survival for next season. I bet if the series was added to the popular streaming service that its viewers could almost double for the next season.
by Julian Spivey
The second season of A&E’s hit drama “Bates Motel” ended with multiple bangs on Monday, May 5 wrapping up a pretty solid season.
The bulk of season two surrounded Norman’s (Freddie Highmore) frequent black outs and what happens during these moments and the fact that Norma (Vera Farmiga) keeps the truth about them from him. It also focused on Norma’s rise in the town of White Pine Bay with her meeting influential people in town like Rebecca Creskoff’s Christine and Michael O’Neill’s Nick Ford. Despite incredibly interesting storylines from the two leads, it was Dylan’s (Max Thieriot) storyline that probably intrigued me the most with his dangerous job in the burgeoning local pot business and the early season reveal that his father was actually Norma’s brother who had raped her as a teenager.
In the penultimate episode of the season Norman is kidnapped and hidden in a box underground by Nick Ford, who threatens to kill the boy if Dylan doesn’t kill his boss, the insanely unstable Zane (Michael Eckund). Dylan tells Ford that he isn’t a murderer which leads the drug boss to attempt to kill Dylan before Dylan is able to fight back and kill Ford with a handy fireplace poker. The episode ends with Norman still trapped underground and the man who knows his whereabouts dead.
In a terrific opening scene from the finale Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is searching for Norman when he happens upon Dylan running from the scene of Nick Ford’s. Dylan explains that he just killed Ford and the two begin a frantic search for Norman ultimately finding him before the opening titles.
The rest of the episode is merely tying up loose ends from the season, but it’s all done in such an entertaining and suspenseful way that it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
We all knew that Romero was going to get his payback on Zane for torching his house and we knew it was likely going to be sweet. And, boy was it ever. With the help of Dylan and Zane’s sister, Jodi (Kathleen Robertson), Romero lured Zane to Jodi’s house with the sole purpose of killing him, in nice shotgun blast to the chest fashion, and putting an end to the second pot crime boss in White Pine Bay.
Sheriff Romero is a highly interesting character because not only is he an incredible badass and one not to be messed with, but he’s also one willing to let certain things slide for the good of the town (like the pot business) as long as things don’t get too out of hand. The seemingly budding interest Romero has in Norma romantically adds to the whole thing nicely. Also, Dylan is pretty much indebted to Romero now as him killing Ford was swept under the rug and this should be one of the more interesting storylines going into season three.
One of the nice moments from the season two finale was the touching scene in which Norma and Dylan makeup after the reveal earlier in the season of Dylan’s father being Norma’s brother tore them apart. It was a lovely moment between the two perfectly portrayed by the supremely talented Farmiga and Thieriot, but I believe the closeness between the two is bound to be short-lived as the close to incestuous bond between Norma and Norman really doesn’t allow for others to get too close.
Some would disagree I’m sure, but with so much else going on in this finale it almost seemed at times like Norman was pushed to the background slightly, although the final segment of the episode does beg to differ. Norman heads out to the woods near his house to commit suicide, which everybody knows is not actually going to happen because there wouldn’t be a “Bates Motel” or a future “Psycho,” as this is a prequel, without Norman Bates, but it still led to a nice scene between Highmore and Farmiga where she explains to Norman that he is her entire life (sorry Dylan) and that if he dies she dies too. Norman being the good momma’s boy he is obliges and puts down the gun.
The season comes to an end with Norman taking a lie detector test to prove whether or not he murdered his teacher Blair Watson, who was killed at the very end of the first season, and he recently began to suspect that he murdered her. Some shows would’ve chosen this moment to be a cliffhanger going into the next season, but thankfully “Bates Motel” did the right thing and gave us the results of the test. Norman passes, but only after he has another out of body experience where he sees his mother and she informs him that it was actually her who murdered Watson.
My favorite moment from the entire episode comes as the very last image where the camera pans around to reveal Norman’s face right after the lie detector where he’s just still with this frighteningly cold look on his face. I absolutely love this scene because it’s almost a direct homage to the very last image of the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film “Psycho.” It was a nice and fitting touch by the writer and director to end a well-done season.