Amazon Prime Mini-Review – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Season 3)

Midge Maisel is back and her career is taking off for real.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

At the end of the last season, Midge. Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) was asked by singer Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain) to be his opening act on tour through the US and Europe, including the USO. This proves to be a good move for her, as she starts to get exposed to larger venues in Las Vegas and Miami, but takes a massive toll on her personal life and family life. Meanwhile, Susie (Alex Borstein), her manager, is attempting to help her new client, Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch), with her dream of becoming a legitimate dramatic actress. However, Sophie’s superstar personality makes everything difficult. Abe and Rose Weissman (Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle), Midge’s parents, are dealing with losing their apartment and Abe’s career after he quit in protest during the last season. They’re forced to move in with Moishe and Shirley Maisel (Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron), the parents of Midge’s ex-husband Joel (Michael Zegen). Joel, meanwhile, is dealing with trying to open a nightclub over a gambling den in Chinatown.

MrsMaisel - 1USO
Feel the love.

END SUMMARY

This season is the first time that we really start to get an idea that just getting the break isn’t enough. Midge has clearly gotten her big break with Shy Baldwin, but she now has to deal with all of the work of actually having an audience and a venue and how it impacts her life. She’s chosen her career over her fiancé Benjamin (Zachary Levi) because it makes her happy, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t regret things. She also spends a lot of time questioning her decision because it makes her unable to see her kids. It’s a good demonstration of the cost of success. 

MrsMaisel - 2Miami
Like dealing with Floridians. High cost of fame.

We also see Susie dealing with being successful for the first time in her life, managing to beg, borrow, threaten, and lie her client Sophie into a role as a lead on a highly-anticipated Broadway play. It’s made all the more frustrating because Sophie, who usually just plays the same comic character in her act, cannot bring herself to work well with others at first. I have to give credit to Borstein and Lynch, because their interplay is a damned-near-perfect representation of a person trying to direct a big personality who is used to getting their way. Having dealt with those in a number of capacities, watching Susie clearly suppress the reasonable urge to punch someone who is trying to ruin their own life was spot-on.

MrsMaisel - 3Sophie.jpg
It’s horrifying to watch rich people fail and realize they can’t really “fail.”

Most of the other plotlines are pretty entertaining, although none of them are really compelling. Abe Weissman’s character devolves a little as he loses his purpose and struggles to deal with how the “revolution” has changed since his youth. Rose is inspired to be more independent by Midge, but then kind of resents her for it. Joel dates a girl who runs a gambling den. All of them have some laughs, but I just never really cared about them much. 

Overall, I’m still enjoying the show, but it maybe needs to figure out what to do with everyone but Midge and Susie. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

25) Blue Harvest (Family Guy)

Family Guy is a rip-off of The Simpsons. Down deep, even they know it. Or, maybe they just have flat admitted it on the show, because no one cares anymore.

Most of the time, I would argue that Family Guy never reached the level of wit and FamilyGuyBlueHarvest.jpgoriginality that came from The Simpsons seasons 2-9, partially because they had the benefit of watching those episodes, which raises the bar a bit. But, this episode, despite literally being a re-make and parody of Star Wars: A New Hope, manages to be extremely clever and original.

SUMMARY

The show re-casts the movie with the Griffin family: Peter, Lois, Meg, Chris, Stewie, and Brian (Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mila “I never return Joker’s letters” Kunis, Seth Green, MacFarlane, and MacFarlane again). The episode starts with them watching TV when a blackout hits. In order to entertain his family, Peter decides to tell the story of the Star Wars, beginning with Part IV.

Alright, so, I’m not going to allege that a parody of Star Wars is wholly original. This was 2007. Spaceballs had been out for 20 years. The Muppet Show had an episode with Mark Hamill. The finale of the Animaniacs/Tiny Toons animated universe was a parody called “Star Warners.” Even Muppet Babies had done one.

FamilyGuyMuppetBabies
Yes. This happened.

 But, unlike all of those, this one is just Star Wars. Spaceballs, while a parody of Star Wars, and an amazing movie, just takes elements of the Trilogy and uses them to tell its own story. But this is not really an episode of the show inspired by Star Wars, this is just the movie A New Hope with the main characters of Family Guy playing the roles, and some jokes worked organically into the narrative. If you watch this episode, you get the gist of the movie, because it’s all of the key scenes, just played a little off-kilter.

ForceAwakens.jpg
It was slightly more original than when Disney Re-made it, though. (Kidding, loved TFA)

For example, it starts with the opening crawl, which, while it does technically summarize the gist of Star Wars, also contains a hilarious tangent that ends up being a stream-of-consciousness commentary about Angelina Jolie and catching the lesbian scene from Gia on HBO. That really sets the tone for this, where the scene that they’re parodying will quickly be conveyed in order to buy more time for them to lampoon it quickly.

Gia
The emphasis in the crawl is not on “lam,” however.

It’s this loving dedication to the movie itself that really makes it worthwhile, because this is a balance of showing the love for something and also recognizing that it is still flawed. Pointing out the almost total lack of female characters aside from Leia, pointing out that it’s kind of ridiculous that, in a super advanced society, R2-D2 needs to carry a message manually instead of just transmitting it, pointing out that the most notable casualty on the Death Star run is a guy named Porkins who is also really fat, pointing out that the Empire decides not to blow up an escape pod just because “there aren’t any life forms aboard,” etc. These are all things that come from acknowledging that Star Wars isn’t without its weak points.

prequels.jpg
Later, it would become its own weak points.

Conversely, they still manage to work in some jokes that rely on the Family Guy continuity, such as having Herbert the Pervert play Obi-Wan Kenobi, which results in a humorous twist on the generic mentor/mentee relationship between him and Luke FamilyGuyDroidsSkywalker. Having Brian play Chewbacca removes Chewie’s usual ambiguous growling and his movie relationship with Han Solo and instead replaces it with Brian and Peter’s brand of idiot/pretentious pseudo-intellectual friendship, but that really only serves to highlight how we never know exactly what relationship Han and Chewie have, in terms of balance of power. The same is true by giving R2-D2 and C-3PO Quagmire and Cleveland’s personalities, it both shakes up their relationship, but also reminds us that, since we never know exactly what R2 says, we don’t know exactly what is going on between them.

And then there are the random gags that serve to replace or speed up some of the slower parts of the movie. These are some of the weaker parts of the episode at times, but, at the same time, they manage to at least provide a break for fans of the movie to feel a bit of a tone shift so that it doesn’t JUST feel like watching Star Wars. Despite that, the episode has only a single Family Guy cutaway gag, all the other ones are actually worked into the scene. Plus, they had the discipline to not include Carrie Fisher, despite the fact that she was a recurring character in Family Guy (though, they broke down at Return of the Jedi, but, then, so did Seth McFarlane’s desire to continue). (update: Rest in Peace, you wonderful genius).

END SUMMARY

This episode manages to create a very unique experience. While the episode itself ends with the characters pointing out that other shows have done Star Wars episode, this one manages to stand out, and that’s impressive on its own. Add in the fact that they got Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo to reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold from the Vacation movies, and you’ve got an hour of comedy gold.

PREVIOUS – 26a: Rick and Morty

NEXT – 24: House

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.