Friday, November 23, 2012

Father, Can You Hair Me?

Funny F*ckin' Friday

Veronica's rivalry with her father develops into an intense battle between two opposing companies that threatens to destroy their family.

The review for "Trust and Consequences" can be read here.

Cold and calculating is how most people would describe Veronica (Portia de Rossi,) and while the way she presents herself in the office might seem, to some, as a false-front, we see here that that's simply not the case. Veronica's strained relationship with her father (Geoff Pierson) goes a long way to explaining why she acts the way she does, providing also a glimpse into how she learned to conduct her business affairs.

The relationship that Veronica has with her father speaks volumes about how and why she turned out so detached from the world, and it's great fun to watch unfold on screen. Veronica and her father, in running rival companies, steal a constant stream of ideas from one another, leading both to be suspicious of the other's actions, never more apparent than when Veronica has her father escorted out of the building when he reveals that he's dying, Veronica assuming that it's some kind of ruse. When the pair reunite they display how alike they are in their inability to relate to other people, with Veronica's father stating that "at least now [she'll] have something to talk to [her] sister about besides all her stupid babies," but that incapability to understand human emotion also proves a drawback, as they prove unable of relating to one another without stealing ideas. In an effort to maintain a relationship with her father, good or bad, Veronica plants the company's ideas in an effort to force her father to steal them and restart the rivalry, giving both something to talk about again.

Despite being geniuses, Phil (Jonathan Slavin) and Lem (Malcolm Barrett) often defer to Ted's (Jay Harrington) judgement without a second thought, so it's good to see Lem stand up for what he believes in here. Lem refuses to obey Ted's orders, refusing to back down for the greater good, and this is a conflict that is a long time coming, allowing Lem the chance to stick to his guns even though he so desperately wants to be accepted by Ted as a friend. Phil, on the other hand, claims he had been unable to stop Lem, stating that "[his] head was screaming no, but [his] mouth was chewing gum."

Ted pushes his daughter Rose (Isabella Acres) to continue on in her bid for class presidency as he very much wants to see her win and show how proud he is of his daughter the way that his father was never proud of him. Rose tells him that she doesn't want to spend all her recesses in meetings and instead wants to play outside in the sand making mud pies, but Ted convinces her to stick it out. This is not only selfish of Ted, but it's also a plot that we've seen before in "Win Some, Dose Some" when Ted wanted Rose to sell the most in a school competition when Rose, instead, wanted her classmate to win. It's understandable that it might be difficult to work Rose into the plots of this series, but it's unfortunate that the writers choose here to repeat the same plot from an earlier episode rather than simply have the character just appear in a lesser capacity here.

When Lem refuses to let Ted rush their trials into human testing, Ted threatens both him and Phil, not out of pressure from his bosses needing to make money, but because he wants to get the secret to hair growth so that he can make his bald father proud of him. It's refreshing that Ted's portrayed as a flawed character, but he's so selfish here that it clouds his better judgement and poses a risk to Veridian customers.

Guest star Pierson has very good timing in relation to de Rossi, and their on-screen relationship here is a pleasure to watch. Barrett and Slavin, both of whom have mastered the voices of their characters, are shown to have the capacity to infuse their performances with a great deal of neuroses and emotional vulnerability that might not come across from a different pair of actors.

Directed by Michael Fresco, this episode is full of visual gags that can be either hit-or-miss, but ultimately draw upon the satire of the series and expand upon the hilarity of their universe. Veronica's day out with her father, both of whom are unsure of how to throw a frisbee, flipping it like a pancake instead of throwing it like a disc, and setting the kite on fire on the telephone wires is a hilarious montage that I wish had gone on longer, or played over the closing credits. The joke that didn't work well, at least for me, was the inorganic materials in Ted's office being able to grow hair, which was funny on the surface, but makes absolutely no sense.

Michael Glouberman writes a lot of funny moments into his story, tossing in quips every few minutes to keep the laughter coming, and it works very well. The protocol that Veridian's scientists have to follow in testing is good as described by Phil and Lem, first on a rat, then a bat, then a hat, which is possibly a typo, then a cat... Part of what makes the series so funny is that the characters remain clueless as to how strange their situation is, and their deadpan acceptance of what's happening around them is always fantastic.

Veronica's approach to solving her social awkwardness is something akin to how researchers approach an experiment and whatever advances she makes in relation to other people is likely going to be some kind of business tactic.

The review for "Jabberwocky" can be read here.


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