NVTV 26: Black-Ish Halloween

Big strides for Black-Ish this week despite the absence of the show's usual MVP. The list of terrible child actors has shrunk from four to three as Yara Shahidi showed off some impressive deadpan chops. Charley Murphy returned, and was deployed with a bit more expertise. Tracee Ellis Ross turned in her usual great work but was actually given something to work with, and Anthony Anderson got to be more than just a narrator. The jokes were the most consistent they've been so far, and while the ending was telegraphed, it was also an ending that worked for the show, and didn't sell out any of its characters. Perhaps most importantly, after six weeks of pretending to be about race, Black-Ish actually showed some teeth with it's racial humor (mostly at the office).

On the negative side, the show still feels compelled to hold its audience's hand a bit too much... though sadly they may be a necessity for a hit network sitcom these days; Black-Ish is curb stomping every other show I'm reviewing in the ratings despite being somewhere in the middle of the pack qualitatively. Three out of four child actors are still butchering otherwise good material (the oldest son was particularly brutal this week, turning on-paper funny material into a real snore), and Pop's was conspicuous by his absence; since that absence likely means Hannibal is shooting again, I'm ok with it, but within the realm of Black-Ish less Pops is worrisome as he's been their most consistently funny character thus far. 

Overall, big thumbs up for this week relative to last week, and a moderate thumbs up in a vacuum. 

NVTV 25: Marry Me "Scary Me"

Swamped this week, so I don't have a ton of time to talk Marry Me. Basically, it continues to try to be Happy Endings and isn't even trying to hide it at this point, literally featuring a character (Derrick) from the older show. Marry Me isn't nearly as tight or as sharply written as Endings was at its best, but it's better than most of its competition, which is enough for now. Marion, Wilson, Gemberling, etc. are all still very funny, and it's likely that the writing will find more focus and panache as the series progresses. Tepid thumbs up. 

NVTV 21: Black-Ish "Crime and Punishment" and Boredom

I've got really nothing to add about Black-Ish this week, as it's the same show it's been every week. The bullets, to save us all some time: 

* The show still spends way too much time holding the audiences' hands establishing and re-establishing the episode's plot and them, which leads to a very slow comedic pace. In this particular case, it also took up so much time that there is no real B or C plot. 

*The show employs four child actors, of whom none are good and three are terrible. This week spent more time than usual with them, and that helps nobody. 

*Laurence Fishburne is routinely the best part of the show and rarely on screen for more than two or three minutes in an episode. That held true this week, as he got all the biggest laughs, but barely appeared for more than twenty seconds at a time. 

*Black-Ish is a show that badly wants to talk about edgy things, but is too afraid to do anything edgy with them. This week was no different, with an episode (and even a few funny jokes) about child abuse, but no real depth or audacity. 

*Beyond Fishburne, the rest of the adult cast is strong, but given very little of interest to do. Tracee Elliot-Ross got a few good moments to play this week, but poor Anthony Anderson at this point is basically just a narrator who happens to be on-screen. 

* The show is never bad enough to complain about, or good enough to recommend. It simply exists.