Much like the first half of the story, this episode is a mixture of the positive and negative aspects of the series. The character development is definitely good material, and while the absurdity was dialed back a little bit to allow for a relatively simple resolution to Tom’s situation, there were still plenty of moments dedicated to classic misunderstandings and perfect comic timing. The lingering drawback was, as usual, the heavy-handed treatment of the “gay marriage” issue.
I like the fact that Tom was trying to cover for his brother, especially after learning how complicated his family situation has been in earlier episodes. As I mentioned in the review for the previous episode, this gives Tom a self-sacrificing personality that marks him as somewhat unique. I look forward to more exploration of this character and his complicated psychology.
I’m sure that some of the conflict between Jack and Danny hinges on the nuances of network television, but there’s enough context to make each confrontation worth the time. In fact, Jack and Danny have one of the most interesting relationships on the show, and it helps to keep Jordan’s high-wire act from being completely inexplicable. The situation certainly seems primed for Danny and Jordan to work together more and more, which is something to look forward to for many fans.
Matt may not be the management type, but when push comes to shove, he gets the job done. It gives him a bit more depth than the simplistic “Sorkin stand-in” role that he was initially given. Unfortunately, for all his good moments in this episode, he’s stuck in the middle of another endless dialogue about gay rights and Harriet’s comment, which is repeated often and with a lot of emphasis.
The problem isn’t that the show tackles complicated issues. As I’ve said before, any good sketch comedy show should be taking on the sacred cows and controversies of the general public. When the conversations feel natural, in character, and in context, then it works. In this case, however, a lot of Matt’s dialogue sounded like the writer preaching to the audience. There is a middle ground, and in episodes like “The Long Lead Story”, the writers managed to strike that balance.
This was a good episode, and by the end, I was still looking forward to the idea of more episodes. I still think the series is trying to find its voice, however, and the past two episodes are a good example of that. From what I understand, the focus will be shifting more towards character, and if that means more depth for the cast, I can’t complain. I only hope the preaching can be retooled into something a little more subtle.
(As a sidenote: I also have a new podcast associated with my various reviews called “Velocity TV”. Current episodes cover “Studio 60”, so it might be something of interest. Go to http://velocitytv.libsyn.com if you want to listen!)