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Television

A.P. Bio Season 2, Episode 6, “Melvin”

The Jack-Lynette saga continues this week; he didn’t completely tank with Lynette after telling her he hated Toledo, but it cooled her off enough that she doesn’t want to do anything that could be construed as a date with him. So they plan very-unromantic movie night at Jack’s house, with Lynette suggesting John Wick 2. (“Will I be lost if I haven’t seen part 1?” “Do you know how guns work?”)

As we saw in the cold open, though, Jack has gotten into a prank war with his elderly neighbor Melvin (Christopher Lloyd!), which involves some dumb pranks as “stealing each other’s mail-order snacks”, “writing ‘Jack Is Stupid’ on the headline of Jack’s daily paper,” and of course, that classic, “having your dog poop in your neighbor’s lawn.” Melvin sets off his car alarm while they’re trying to watch the movie, to purposely annoy Jack; he tries to deal with it, but Lynette catches him in the act.

Of course, walking in on a date about to throw dog poop at an elderly man would be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. Lynette’s concern is the inefficacy of such a gesture. “Shove it in the mail slot.” Of course Lynette likes pranks.

Meanwhile, Durbin decides the yearbook photographer’s new rates are too expensive, and that he can shoot the photos himself. This leads to a slight but fun plot where on day one of the two-day shoot, he spends most of the time taking glam photos of the teachers (Michelle goes way too far in her set). So he has to cram everyone else in on day two, which means filing them through and snapping photos immediately, which leads to a dumb montage that is nevertheless pretty funny.

The prank war escalates until Jack and Lynette enlist the AP Bio kids to help them steal Melvin’s dog and hold it for ransom. This segment was maybe my favorite of the episode, because it got the kids involved, each in their own unique way. Marcus being pedantic. “Okay, this one’s a dud.” “Yeah, he’s the worst.” Anthony taking his sweet time. (“That kid’s got one gear.”) And Grace showing a cheerily psychotic side I don’t think we’ve seen before. (“Don’t tell me if that’s real blood.” “It is!” “Okay… Well, don’t tell me where you got it.” “My hamster!”)

In a bizarre side runner, Dale the janitor is missing his old mop, until his fellow janitor tells him she threw it in a magic dumpster that transforms it into something better. Dale sees Jack bring the dog to school and concludes Jack stole Dale’s mop-dog. Well, it’s understandable, sort of.

Jack is worried because they haven’t heard from Melvin yet… and when he and Lynette arrive at his home, they learn Melvin died. They freak out, of course, because they’re worried their pranks killed an old man. Then the officer tells them Melvin choked on a chicken wing, and all is well. And Jack knows just what to do with Melvin’s dog.

Oh, and of course, Melvin has a posthumous letter delivered to Jack where he reveals he enjoyed their prank war. Jack and Lynette are pleased they helped give his life meaning, but he gets the last laugh. “Every morning, I put my bare butt on your throw pillows.”

This was a fun episode, but I’m a little concerned that, after a killer one-two start to the season, the last four episodes have been primarily focused on the adults, without much room for stories with the kids. I really think the kids and the classroom are the strongest elements of the show, and as great as some of these stories have been and some of the adult characters are (Patton Oswalt and Paula Pell, and the weird dynamic they have in administration, certainly deserve mention), I’d like to see the kids get back onto center stage. This was one of the better efforts of that run, although I still think “Nuns” and “Happiness” are the best episodes so far this season.

EXTRA CREDIT

  • Six episodes in and no Devin yet. Very odd– he may not be showing up this season at all.
  • Great to see Christopher Lloyd back on screen. I wasn’t sure if he was acting much anymore– at least, I haven’t seen him in anything in a while, and he’s 80. Speaking of, I’m glad he’s had a long go of it, considering how long he’s kinda looked like an old man. (At least since Back to the Future, right?)
  • Michelle and Keith hired a clown for their anniversary?
  • Marcus gets dunked on by Jack: “You could split a pad Thai and a sparkling wine. That’s what I do with my college girlfriend.” “Mmm, I wouldn’t call the soft inner lining of a Duke sweatshirt a girlfriend.”
  • The whole scene of a 40-year-old man asking his teenage students for date suggestions is pretty good.
  • “Oh, okay, joke’s on you. I would love to be screwed.”
  • I cracked up at Helen choosing J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” as yearbook photo shoot-appropriate music.
  • Of course Dale calls the dog Moppy. Also, the tag where the dumpster seemingly is magic is exceedingly bizarre, but all the funnier for it.

HEATHER WATCH

See the header picture for one of the funniest moments in the episode. “Is that your dad?”

Also: “Nothing gets my father’s whore revved up like a night at the dog track.” “We’re still calling her a whore even though they’re engaged?” “Yeah.”

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