Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Neighbors "Sing Like A Larry Bird" Review

I haven't written about The Neighbors since the episode about the Bird-Kersees getting lost in a mall. The Neighbors debuted to mostly bad reviews; however, a number of critics have sang the praises of The Neighbors since the time I left the show for Willa Holland on Arrow. I planned on writing a review for last week's episode but that didn't work out due to real life stuff. Lo and behold tonight's episode was a musical episode. Musical episodes are treated differently; they're special because television doesn't do musicals often. "Sing Like A Larry Bird" has three songs and an accessible story in which the aliens' situation is compared to E.T., in case any die-hard fans of musicals tuned in and had no idea what The Neighbors is about. Without further ado, here are some random thoughts about tonight's The Neighbors:

-The Neighbors appealed to me from its "Pilot." I enjoyed creator Dan Fogelman's sense of humor, and the entertaining performances by the leads. The Neighbors is quirky, sometimes clever, but it's not made of the stuff that Arrested Development or Community or The Office or any other witty, self-referential single camera comedy that makes audiences feel smart and like they have good taste. The Neighbors is a great sitcom for families to sit down and watch on a Wednesday night. It’s a harmless way to spend a half-hour in the evening. For example, tonight's B story is about Amber refusing to be grounded on the grounds that she possesses autonomy and therefore can say no to her parents. What power does her parents have if she says no? Indeed, the Weaver parents lose their power and watch their house fall into mass chaos. By mass chaos, I mean no chaos at all.

Amber, Jackie and Larry, have something in common: the Weavers don't let do anything fun. Apparently, in the months since I last watched the episode, the Weavers became the guardians of the alien community. The Weavers guard the aliens, make sure they do not reveal themselves to the public, and generally reject any idea the Bird-Kersees have. Larry and Jackie wish to see Annie on Broadway, but Marty thinks the night will end with government probes. Amber wants to see a Jay-Z concert on a school night. The lack of stakes in the A and B stories is astounding. All parties rebel against the Weavers. The Bird-Kersees find themselves with a well problem, while Amber soon understands her parents' plight when her little brother and sister constantly say no to her orders. Don't worry. The stories are easily resolved.

The Bird-Kersees deal with a reporter during the well crisis (Dick Butkus fell into a well). They behave strangely, give themselves up, but the reporter doesn't follow up on that stuff. The reason why is because any person wouldn't react to utterances about spaceships in a garage by suspecting the utterer to be an alien. No, we'd react like the reporter. If I were a producer, I wouldn't run the story. A boy fell down a well. If anything, in real life, The Soup would pick up the clip, McHale would make a joke, and it'd get talked about on Twitter for 12 hours, and then it'd be forgotten. The story's really about the Bird-Kersees inability to adapt to stressful situations. The Weavers swoop in and clean up their mess. Their song-and-dance (literally--this is a musical) about wanting to do stuff is quickly forgotten. Also, Amber grounds herself, bringing everything full circle neatly.

-The Neighors is a traditional sitcom--very traditional. One of the first scenes of the episodes involves Larry and Jackie storming out of the Weavers, only to walk into the wrong room. Marty whispers to his wife, "I don't think they knew they went into the pantry." Jackie and Larry exit the pantry sheepishly. Seen it before? Indeed. Boy Meets World used the same joke, and I'm sure BMW took that joke from an earlier sitcom. Cory's mad at Shawn because Shawn asked Topanga out. Cory planned on asking her out but choked whenever the moment came. Cory goes to Shawn's apartment after-school to berate him. He angrily leaves, only he walks into a closet. Characters wonder whether or not Cory knows what room he walked into. Indeed, Cory comes out and admits his mistake. The piped-in laughter erupts. The Neighbors doesn't use a laugh-track.

-The musical numbers are fine. The choreography’s not great, though. I'm glad The Neighbors had original compositions for the episode. I support any show that takes a risk, though I'm not sure what the risk factor of producing a musical episode is in today's television industry.


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.