Okay, I know that title is somewhat deceptive, because Black-ish didn’t air last night; most of ABC’s regularly scheduled programming didn’t. Of course, the State of the Union cut into ABC’s schedule, but they did have time to air two new episodes of Fresh Off the Boat.
I really enjoyed the first one, “A Man to Share the Night With.” Louis discovers Eddie shaving, and solemnly declares him A Man Now, pleased to have another “adult” male around the house to hang out with. (See the title.) Eddie’s been shaving for months, but he’s not gonna spoil the moment for Louis. Louis decides to let Eddie stay up later to watch Letterman with him, but Eddie starts taking advantage of the extended bedtime hours to hang out with his friend Dave (the tall skinny one) instead. This leads to some conflict between Eddie and Louis, who was expecting Eddie to be his late-night buddy.
Louis heads to Marvin to get advice, and Marvin suggests reasserting himself as the pack leader / dominant male. We get some great absurdism out of this when Marvin shows Louis a filmstrip of himself confronting an elephant from when he was “building the rail to Mombasa,” which my research indicates happened in the 19th century. Marvin isn’t young in the filmstrip, either, so apparently in the show’s present he’s about 140 years old and also served in the British Empire.
We get a nice resolution, though: Dave, who doesn’t have a father, has been behaving in an increasingly unhinged manner (at least in part driven by that, considering his frequent mentions of the topic), and this culminates in his plan to break into a department store and steal his dream mannequin. Eddie smartly uses new, hardass Louis to get out of helping Dave, and Louis provides the presence and guidance Dave has been lacking, to talk him off the ledge and come back and watch Letterman.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family is watching the Winter Olympics (Nagano!) and rooting for Michelle Kwan in figure skating, except Grandma Huang, who is rooting for Tara Lipinski. (Classic Grandma: “She’s strong, beautiful, and hungry for gold. She reminds me of a young me.”) Jessica has taught Evan and Emery to root for Kwan as an ultimate example of an Asian-American success story driven by hard work and discipline. When Kwan finishes second (Grandma: “You come for Lipinski, you best be ready”), Jessica is convinced Evan and Emery wouldn’t be able to handle the news, so she at first lies about the results, then when her cover is blown by Honey (“They were having a sale at the salon on Lipinski bangs”), she concocts a conspiracy theory that the real Michelle Kwan was replaced with a slightly worse version.
Evan and Emery actually come up with some fairly substantial evidence, so Honey decides they need to talk to the most plugged-in name in figure skating, Nancy Kerrigan. She provides explanations for each seeming piece of the puzzle (and, as she points out, she knows from conspiracies), and in the end, Evan and Emery add a note to her book signature that the conspiracy is real, because they decide Jessica can’t handle it otherwise. A neat way to flip the original premise of the story.
In the second episode, “We Need to Talk About Evan,” we start with Louis and corporate partnet Matthew (Matt Oberg) bonding over getting their families together at last. Jessica develops a petty rivalry with Matthew’s wife Amy; meanwhile, their son tells Emery and Eddie that he knows how to unhook a bra, giving them a quest for the episode.
Evan discovers that his school hands out a Student of the Month award now, and he didn’t get it. The principal explains that the award calls for well-roundedness, not just academic excellence, so Evan pushes himself to engage in more and more extracurricular activites, and the pressures eventually cause him to snap and throw glitter in the face of another student (they’re working on Spring Fling). This sends Evan to the school’s guidance counselor, played by one of the regulars from Nahnatchka Khan’s last series, Ray Ford. (And when I wrote his name down in my notes, I added half a dozen exclamations points afterward. If Luther wasn’t one of your favorite sitcom characters of the 2010s, you are wrong.) Jessica, naturally, is innately suspicious of the idea of counseling for one of her children, but after her pressure on Evan to abandon it and talk to her instead leads to him having a panic attack, she comes to embrace it, putting a nice button on her rivalry with Amy at the end.
Meanwhile, Louis is mad because people only come to the restaurant to meet Kenny Rogers or otherwise ask about Kenny Rogers merchandise. He wants to be recognized, too, so he develops “Louis Huang’s five-alarm chili” for the menu and starts aggressively pushing it on customers. When no one’s buying it, Matthew finally steps up, pretending to be a weary traveler of a customer. Unfortunately, he’s allergic to Szechuan peppercorns (“That’s the fourth alarm!”) and goes into anaphylactic shock. This seems like a disaster to Louis, but it actually gives his chili a reputation around town as a challenge. As a customer explains in one of the funniest lines of the episode, “Apparently some four-eyed block of cream cheese tried to eat it… passed right out.”
Eddie and Emery steal one of Grandma Huang’s bras to practice on, continuing to fail in their attempts (Eddie accidentally re-hooks the clasps at one point). They blame the pillow they’ve got it set up on, so they move it to a… figurine, I guess? Statue? I don’t know what to call that thing. And Evan walks in on them in the garage, giving him enough material to talk to Mr. Tim (that’s the guidance closer) for days.
Good pair of episodes; I liked the first better than the second, but both worthy efforts, and also the second one has Ray Ford.
- Some of the quotes in this review may be inexact. I try to be a stickler most of the time, but my notes were spotty in some places.
- Jessica refers to David Letterman and Paul Shaffer as “The old man and his piano gremlin.”
- While Eddie’s going out, Grandma is going to a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “It has a beautiful man in high heels.”
- The featured guests on each of the three episodes of Letterman that air during the episode: Cindy Crawford, Andie MacDowell (Marvin calls her “a ruddy-cheeked delight”), and the cast of Baywatch.
- Emery and Evan’s research reveals that Michelle Kwan was a musician as well as a figure skater, and her band was apparently called “Third Eye Kwan.”
- “I wonder when my dad goes to sleep. Or where.” How can you not feel for Dave?
- Louis to Eddie and Dave: “How about, just tonight, you guys can stay up through the musical guest?” Announcer: “And musical guest: Paula Cole!” Eddie: “We’re good, thanks.”
- Seriously, I need some answers about Marvin’s real age and the nature of that filmstrip.
- Sorry, Matthew, but I’m not buying “I’m Too Sexy” as a road trip song.
- The nervous looks Eddie and Emery exchange when Grandma Huang discloses “My favorite bra is missing” were a nice touch.
- I’ve been watching some classic The Office lately, so when I saw Angela Kinsey I cracked up upon remembering Roy saying “Who’s the tight-assed blonde Christian chick? Her.”
- What was your favorite Luther moment from Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23? The possible list is long, but the one I probably say to myself the most and then laugh about is “You’re pretty, but you’re Sean Astin pretty. Not Van Der Beek pretty.”
- Programming note re: The Mayor. As I mentioned previously, the show has been cancelled, which I found very disappointing, as it had charm and potential. However, ABC did air the final four episodes, which I was not aware of, so if you’ve seen them and want to comment, feel free. I may eventually write about them once I see them myself.