Friday, October 12, 2012

Win Some, Dose Some.

Funny F*ckin' Friday
Ted finds himself in competition with Veronica and Linda is accidentally dosed with an experimental energy supplement that creates issues in both her work and personal lives.

The review for "Racial Sensitivity" can be read here.

Veronica (Portia de Rossi) has always been shown to be very devoted to the well-being of Viridian Dynamics, but it is Ted's (Jay Harrington) continued allegiance to the company that has seemed somewhat strange. Here we see that it's their competitive nature that keeps them both on payroll, each too proud to let the company fail, and it makes absolute sense in regards to their characters, despite the fact that the company has a tendency to do horrible things that contrast with Ted's personal beliefs.

Phil (Jonathan Slavin) and Lem's (Malcolm Barrett) initial horror that they've dosed Linda (Andrea Anders) with an energy patch quickly devolves into them convincing themselves that she owes them for the extra energy they've likely given her. It's absolutely ridiculous, completely in-character, and exactly what I expect from this show; in the end both characters are unsure of whether they should apologize to Linda or force her to apologize to them, and it's played well by everyone involved, from the actors to the people behind the scenes in the writers room and those operating the cameras.

The relationship between Veronica and Ted as they try to sell the wrapping paper is good, working together as a team, and it really highlights how well they can function on a project together. Later, when they've turned against each other, and their competitive natures have kicked in, this episode does a great job of showing how well they can function when in competition with one another, managing to bring both the best and worst qualities of their opponent out into play. This sequence brings about a number of great lines, my favorites being Veronica's comparison of she and Ted to famous duos, such as Batman and Robin, wherein she is both. Later she describes their battle as "two heavyweights going toe to toe, and [she's] Ali. And Frasier. And Foreman."

While the joke that Linda makes at her own expense is funny in theory, unfortunately the humor doesn't come across in practice, and when Ted later makes a similar joke, again at Linda's expense, it seems more insensitive than anything else, especially given the fact that his company just drugged her, leading her to kidnap a neighbor's child.

Letting Rose's (Isabella Acres) classmate win the competition simply due to the fact that she's disabled seems like the wrong message to send, especially when preaching equality to children. While the girl may be in a wheelchair, she is not completely incapable of accomplishing her own goals, and to act as though she is strikes me as somewhat insulting. More insulting still, it's implied that the disabled girl has only taken the lead out of sympathy, which undercuts her abilities even more.

The main cast delivers another great performance in this episode, especially in showcasing everyone's drive to win, even at the urinals. Slavin and Barrett play Phil and Lem's game of throwing hypodermic needles into the ceiling as if in a classroom with sharpened pencils, and the stiff competition between de Rossi's Veronica and Harrington's Ted extends to anything they possibly could compete at, including their hilarious race to the elevator. The only exception in this episode is Rocky McMurray's General McMillian, who has an intense crush on our protagonist; it comes across as though McMurray is simply reciting the jokes without fully understanding why they might be funny, and his delivery just fails to entertain.

Michael Fresno's direction of Linda's storyline in this episode is very Disney-esque, from her initial excitement at her burst of energy to the manic mood swings she experiences as the episode draws on. Running out in the middle of a meeting in order to go make a difference in the world, forcing Phil and Lem to chase her through the office to get their patch back, and bursting into tears at random during her withdrawals could be absurd on any other series, but here it works because Linda is not blamed but instead is shown as the victim.

Writers Elijah Aron and Jordan Young provide a very sharp script with many jokes that one might miss on their first viewing. A highlight of the episode for me is the commercial for Viridian Dynamics, wherein mentions of hurricane-proof dogs and an old woman fighting a baby to the death are seen as nothing but normal.

Linda's continued grudge against the company is exacerbated here while Ted's initial attraction to Veronica is more readily explainable. The cast of characters provides great entertainment, and the show has the potential to make the most outlandish story lines plausible in this world. The bond between Phil and Lem seems stronger than ever, and their dependency on one another to remain sane (and alive) is one of the greatest assets to this show.

The review for "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" can be read here.


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