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Freshmen comedies deliver scary good Halloween episodes

By Lombardo David
Friday, November 1, 2013

Holiday episodes of a television show are a high-stakes endeavor.

Halloween was immortalized on "Roseanne," "The Office" basically owned Christmas and Thanksgiving has been fodder for great episodes of "Friends," "How I Met Your Mother" and many other shows. On the other end of the spectrum are holiday misfires, which occur when shows rely on gimmicks or are unimaginative.

One of the most popular holidays to celebrate on television, especially in comedies, is Halloween, probably because you can do about 5 minutes of sight gags just based on the costumes. "The Office" was famous for dressing up its cast of characters for memorable cold opens and entire episodes.

This fall featured two Halloween episodes from two freshmen shows, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Trophy Wife," which both had strong showings.

The firs tone to air was "Brooklyn," which had the appropriately named "Halloween", Halloween episode. It had a few funny costumes, like a character dressed as Mario Batali, but it was successful because it used the holiday to explore other stories, instead of allowing the episode to be the holiday. In this case, it meant letting Andy Sandberg, who I don't love as a comedy lead, match wits against his precinct captain, played by Andre Braugher, who gave a particular dry performance.

I'm still not convinced this show is something I would choose to watch, but sticking the landing on a Halloween episode is a good sign for the show's future. Because this is a cop show, at least nominally, they should also have interesting stories to explore when Christmas, New Years, St. Patrick's Day and Cinco De Mayo roll around.

Coming a little closer to Halloween, this past Tuesday, was the "Trophy Wife" Halloween episode, "Halloween." (Again, another witty display of naming. I'm not asking for comedy gold, but at least a pun in the title!)

This show had been a reliable comedy until its fifth episode, which was stupid, cliched and boring. It returned to form with Halloween.

The strongest part of the Halloween episode was how it utilized its resources. There was something for everyone in this seven-person freak show to do, with ex-wife #2, the trophy wife and Bert off trick-or-treating and the rest of the clan conducting a kangaroo court, with a hung jury. (If you're a lawyer and you saw this episode that last line about the jury would have killed!)

My favorite part of this show has always been the one-line quips, which are regularly dirty or biting. Right out of the gate the show was firing away with quips, delivered artfully by Michael Watkins, as ex-wife #2. She is definitely my favorite character on this show and when she mistakenly assumes Bert needs an ironing board, a shirt with an iron on it and to carry a crisp shirt for his costume, because he wants to be "Iron Man," she won me over again.








"Trophy Wife" delivers Halloween laughs. (Photo by tvLine)

But it's the throw-away lines for Watkins that endear me to her the most, probably because I do things like this all the time. Here is a sample of Watkins, as Jackie, talking to trophy wife Kate, played by Malin Akerman:

Jackie: Can I give you money for this?
Kate: Oh, do you have money?
Jackie: Uh, no.
Kate: Then no.
Jackie: Okay, so we’re even.

Additionally, the episode displayed creative use of costumes, especially with Akerman. Instead of doing something that would highlight how sexy she is, her character wore a centaur outfit, which had legs dragging in the back. The second best costume was from Ryan Lee's Warren, who looked and acted like Ellen Degeneres.

The only troubling aspect was that I'm worried about Akerman's Kate having to spend time in future episodes with Bradley Whitford's Pete. Because the characters are married, I'm anticipating some alone time, which is too bad, since they play so well off every other character.

On Hulu, you can watch episodes of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and watch episodes of "Trophy Wife."

Follow @poozer87 on Twitter.

 
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