TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.17

Join me in welcoming back the lovely and talented Heather, who was kind enough to take over reviewing duties as I devoted my time and energy to all things Parks and Recreation this week!

TMP 317

Title Danny Castellano is My Nutritionist

Two-Sentence Summary Danny worries about the effect Mindy’s eating will have on their baby, while she is plagued with morning sickness and worries about Danny’s smoking habit. Meanwhile, the practice looks for a new doctor to replace Peter.

Favorite Line “Gandhi said ‘The British are coming.’ That’s how he got independence for India.” (Mindy)

My Thoughts I have traditionally liked episodes with titles that start with “Danny Castellano is My …” so I was looking forward to seeing how one of these episodes would play out now that Danny and Mindy are dating. Unfortunately, this episode was not the same caliber as “Danny Castellano is My Personal Trainer,” so my mixed feelings about this episode may be a result of expecting too much.

I may also have mixed feelings about the episode because an awful lot of it centered around a type of humor I don’t particularly care for. Morning sickness is a part of many pregnancy experiences, and I recognize that and may have even enjoyed a humorous look at the way pregnancy can make carrying on a day-to-day routine difficult for a woman. Instead, we got to (theoretically) laugh at all the creative and inappropriate places Mindy found to throw up, and that’s just not something I’ve ever found funny. Throwing up is unpleasant and makes you feel miserable, and I always end up feeling badly for the character instead of laughing at them like I think I’m supposed to.

It was perfectly consistent with the character Danny has been portrayed to be for him to be concerned and try to micromanage what Mindy eats during her pregnancy. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is important to him, and while he’s mostly accepted that they aren’t as important to Mindy, the fact that she’s carrying his child changes that acceptance. Danny likes to plan for things, as evidenced by the baby books, and to do things in a way that has proven to be successful in the past. It’s the way he’s lived his life, and it’s a part of his personality that isn’t going to change. However, it doesn’t make him any easier to live with when he wants things a certain way. He was looking out for Mindy in the way he thought was best for her, but he was making her miserable in the process.

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Miss You in the Saddest Fashion: Farewell, Pawnee

Parks and Recreation - Season 7

“What makes work worth doing is getting to do it with people you love.” – Leslie Knope

In the past, when I’ve written about series finales, I’ve used a format very close to the one I use to grade season finales. But as Leslie hugged Ann during Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation series finale, it hit me: That format wasn’t going to cut it this time. “One Last Ride” wasn’t just the first series finale of I show I actually wrote about weekly; it was the series finale of what I will now say is my favorite TV show of all time. (Sorry, Alias.) How could I fit something so huge into such narrow categories? How could I even try to slap a grade on something that was more of a life moment than a TV episode? (For the record, though, that grade would have been an A+.) How could any of us who’ve been so personally inspired by this beautiful show find a way to coherently talk about its finale?

Parks and Rec has always been more than a TV show to those of us who love it. It’s a way of life and a way of looking at the world with hope, positivity, and a desire to make a difference. In a television landscape that’s becoming increasingly dark and nihilistic, Parks and Rec was a bright light—a show that was unafraid to wear its heart on its sleeve in the form of likeable characters who genuinely cared for one another. And to the very end, Parks and Rec was true to itself. “One Last Ride” will be remembered as a series finale that was unashamedly hopeful, genuinely emotional, and—above all else—a joyful celebration of the love we feel for the people, places, and work that matter to us. As such, it was the perfect reflection of the series as a whole. The most you can ask for as a fan of any TV show is for a series finale that honors the soul of the show you love so much. Parks and Rec gave its fans exactly that, and I’ve never felt prouder to be a fan of a specific TV show than I am to be a Parks and Rec fan today.

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TV Time: Castle 7.16

NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

Title The Wrong Stuff

Two-Sentence Summary The 12th precinct team investigates a murder in a simulator designed to train astronauts for a 2018 Mars mission. The psychological effects of too many people in cramped quarters is also explored within Castle’s loft, as Alexis starts bringing more friends over and Martha gets a new boyfriend.

Favorite Line “To boldly go—oh, right over there.” (Castle)

My Thoughts Due to time constraints (and a brain that can think of little else but the Parks and Recreation series finale) today, I have to keep my thoughts on this fun episode brief. Therefore, I’m going to break them down into Five Fast Takes on “The Wrong Stuff.”

1. This episode didn’t really take off until its final act.
Sometimes the shift from dramatic Castle episodes to comedic episodes works, and sometimes it feels incredibly jarring. The beginning of this episode felt like one of those jarring times. After the intense drama of the previous two weeks, it was difficult to get back into the swing of a typical Castle episode, especially when a standalone episode like this one doesn’t allow for any residual talk of what happened with 3XK or for any residual effects to be shown by the characters. It took me longer than usual to go with the flow of this light Castle fare, and I think it’s because—for as much as I like the “fun and nerdy” cases—I’ll always favor the heavy stuff when it comes to this show. It was only when the twists started coming fast and furious that I really began to enjoy the ride.

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You Have All the Strengths: A Letter to Leslie Knope

Source: glamour.com

Source: glamour.com

Dear Leslie,

I’m not ready to say goodbye. I know all good things must come to an end, but that doesn’t make it easier to think about tomorrow’s series finale of Parks and Recreation. I’ve spent a long time thinking of the right way to bid farewell to a show that’s meant so much to me, and I decided to approach it (like I approach most things in life) the way you would: with positivity, with optimism, and with appreciation for the power one woman—if she’s the right woman—has to inspire those around her to be their best selves. You might not be real, but the impact you had on me is as real as it gets. So before I say goodbye, I wanted to say thank you.

Thank you, Leslie, for your passion. As we grow, we’re often led to believe that it’s cool to be apathetic; it’s cool not to care, or at least not to show you care. Because openly caring about things asks for a kind of vulnerability and honesty that scares people. So thank you for being brave enough to let the world see how much you care. Thank you for reminding me that a life well-lived is a life lived with passion and intensity. And thank you for never apologizing for feeling as strongly as you felt about the things that mattered to you. Women often feel a need to apologize for their feelings, especially if they’re strong, but you were allowed to own your passion unapologetically. And you were surrounded by characters who supported that passion and were inspired by your ability to care. The depth with which you cared about things was never mocked; it was celebrated, and it made me feel proud to be someone who only knows how to feel things strongly.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (2/15 – 2/22)

This week in television kicked off with another strong episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that focused on developing the dynamic between Jake and Holt, which is always a winning combination of characters to focus on. On Monday, Castle wrapped up its latest two-parter with a stunning psychological thriller. Tuesday featured a pair of penultimate episodes, as Agent Carter sped toward this season’s finish line with a literal bang and Parks and Recreation focused on its supporting characters in the last two episodes before its series finale. Also on Tuesday, The Mindy Project brought Mindy back to New York and brought her and Danny’s little secret out into the open within the practice. Finally, Wednesday gave us another compelling hour of Suits, an episode of Nashville that made me cry more than once, and a stunning examination of honesty and innocence on The Americans.

This was another week of standout episodes and moments on television—from Nathan Fillion’s amazing work on Castle to Deacon’s tears while watching Maddie play the guitar on Nashville. However, one moment stood out above all the others, making me want to stand up and cheer as it unfolded—and that was Peggy’s astute examination of how the men around her view her on Agent Carter.

Agent Carter has never shied away from directly addressing the sexism women faced in Peggy’s time and still face today, but this was perhaps its most scathing takedown of sexist attitudes yet. The men around Peggy—even the ones who seemed to genuinely respect her, like Sousa—couldn’t see beyond their own preconceptions about women to even attempt to understand Peggy as a person and not just as a stereotype. Men have tried and often still try to write women’s stories for them, forcing women into narratives of their choosing instead of accepting that women can be complex human beings with unique stories and motivations that don’t always revolve around men. To the men around her, Peggy needed to be a character in their stories rather than the main character in her own—she was the lost soul taken in, the damsel in distress, or the romantic interest. And when she didn’t fit those narratives, they crafted new ones to paint her as a supporting character in Howard Stark’s story. But Peggy was having none of that, and the depth of her righteous anger over their lack of respect resonated so strongly with me, and you could feel it resonating so strongly with Hayley Atwell as she delivered each powerful line.

If you haven’t watched this scene yet—and even if you haven’t watched Agent Carter yet—I strongly encourage you to watch this video and appreciate this moment and this show for its proudly feminist viewpoint.

http://abc.go.com/embed/VDKA0_d1xlxy9c

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Because I Care: My Top 10 Episodes of Parks and Recreation

Source: eonline.com

Source: eonline.com

This is it, friends—the countdown to the series finale of the happiest show on television, Parks and Recreation. Over the next few days here at Nerdy Girl Notes, there will be several posts dedicated to saying goodbye to this show that has impacted both the television landscape and so many people (myself included) in such a positive way.

Today, I wanted to take a look back on my fondest Parks and Rec memories by counting down my Top 10 episodes of the series. This was the toughest Top 10 list I’ve ever created because there were so many phenomenal episodes to choose from. It was a Herculean task, but I settled on the 10 episodes I return to the most often, the 10 episodes that make me the happiest—because that’s what Parks and Rec is all about.

This is by no means a definitive list of the best of Parks and Rec, but I hope it inspires you to share your favorite episodes with us in the comments!

10. Soulmates (Season 3, Episode 10)
This episode was filled with fun elements: a classic Chris/Ron showdown over their culinary skills, Ann helping Leslie create an online dating profile, the awkward hilarity of Leslie going on a date with Tom without him knowing it was a date…But the real reason this makes my list of favorite episodes is twofold. First, it gave us the brilliance of Aziz Ansari’s monologue about his nicknames for food, which I can (and often do) quote word for word. (I can’t be the only one who now uses “sammies” and “chicky-chicky parm-parm” in everyday conversation.) Also, it gave us Leslie and Ben’s first meeting at what would become their wildflower mural. The final moments of this episode—with Ben suggesting he and Leslie eat lunch together at her favorite place in the world—felt so real in their simplicity. Watching it unfold for the first time felt like watching two real people slowly falling in love, and it was then that I knew I’d found a new TV couple to love with all my heart.

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TV Time: The Americans 3.04

The Americans 304

Title: Dimebag

Episode M.V.P: Matthew Rhys
The first three episodes of Season Three of The Americans featured (in order): A naked woman being strangled to death, the same naked, deceased woman having her bones snapped in order to fit her into a suitcase, and a husband pulling out his wife’s tooth with a pair of pliers. All three moments were unsettling, but none of them made my skin crawl the way Philip’s interactions with Kimberly did in this episode. In the hands of a less talented actor on a lesser show, this storyline could ruin Philip’s character. However, Matthew Rhys’s haunting work in “Dimebag” proved that this storyline will only serve to make Philip an even more complex character than before.

Rhys has always been great at conveying Philip’s mental and emotional state through his eyes, tone of voice, and body language, and that talent was used potently in “Dimebag.” It was there in the way “Jim’s” smooth talking could barely disguise the disgust in Philip’s voice. It was there in the way his back stiffened when Elizabeth asked who wore the pants in “Clark’s” marriage with Martha. It was there in the way he purposely didn’t look at Kimberly as she was dancing until he visibly steeled himself to do so at the end. It was there in the slump of his shoulders when he had to leave after his teenage daughter’s birthday dinner to seduce a teenage girl—his posture showing how much he hates the hypocrite this is causing him to become. And it was there every single time the camera lingered on his face as Philip looked at Paige with the sad eyes of a father contemplating lost innocence and his role in it.

I loved the way this episode focused on how much Philip loves his kids as he was being asked to do something that went against everything he believes as a father. The genuine warmth Rhys exuded in the scene that featured Philip and Henry doing flashcards as Philip talked to Paige about her birthday dinner brilliantly contrasted the disturbing nature of his new mission and the clear discomfort he felt about it.

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.16

As I began the process of saying goodbye to Parks and Recreation by working on some posts to be revealed before the series finale, Heather was kind enough to take the reins with this week’s review of The Mindy Project. After you tell Heather how great her post was, make sure you wish her a happy belated birthday, too, since her birthday was yesterday! 

Source: ew.com

Source: ew.com

Title Lahiri Family Values

Two-Sentence Summary Mindy and Rob move forward on the fertility clinic until Mindy’s drug-dealing brother makes her realize she doesn’t want to leave New York. Meanwhile, after some mistaken communication, Danny announces that he’s moving to San Francisco for Mindy (not dying, as Morgan thought).

Favorite Lines
Mindy: What are you, his math tutor?
Big Murder: You know, I became a drug dealer to break stereotypes like that.

My Thoughts It’s official: Mindy (and the show) are staying in New York! While I loved the opportunity that the fertility clinic in San Francisco would have provided, I wasn’t as excited about the setting of the show switching coasts and potentially losing most of the supporting cast in the process. Mindy opening her own clinic in New York (in Cliff’s old offices) seems like the best of all possible solutions. Mindy still gets to keep her professional dreams, and she gets to stay with Danny in New York.

While I’m happy with where the episode left Mindy, the jumps needed to make the plot move forward were not the smoothest. It’s very possible that I’ve just forgotten, but was this the first time Mindy’s mentioned that Rishi lives in San Francisco? So much of Mindy’s half of this episode revolved around him, so the lack of previous mention made it feel a bit forced. I enjoyed seeing Mindy in protective sister mode and it’s a good night any time John Cho is on TV, but it never felt like a compelling story.

I recognize the necessity of episodes like this one, which primarily exist to move the plot forward, but it doesn’t make me like them any better. I would have preferred to see Mindy decide that she would rather stay in New York to be closer to Danny’s mother/the baby’s grandmother, or because her life is there and she’d rather be there with all the other changes that are coming. It just felt too abrupt to have Rishi be the one to make Mindy realize that she wanted to stay in New York closer to her broken co-workers. A lot of things related to the fertility clinic plot happened very quickly with little discussion, so this new change in plans fits right in. But now looking back, it makes everything that’s happened feel a little too contrived for drama, which is not a complaint I have often had with this show this season. Whatever my feelings on how we got to the conclusion of this arc, I am happy with where it ended up and look forward to Mindy experiencing her pregnancy in New York with her former co-workers by her side.

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TV Time: Parks and Recreation 7.10/7.11

Source: vulture.com

Source: vulture.com

Title The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show/Two Funerals

Two-Sentence Summary As Andy prepares to move to Washington for April’s new job, he hosts one last episode of his beloved children’s TV show. And two deaths in Pawnee lead to major changes for the town and many of its residents.

Favorite Line “You’re what keeps me going. You’re my Verizon/Chipotle/Exxon.” (Andy, to April)

My Thoughts This final season of Parks and Recreation has been filled with such strong episodes that it almost made me forget that we were in the middle of the process of saying goodbye. However, this week’s pair of episodes went about as meta as it gets in terms of reminding the audience that the end is near for our beloved show. One episode was entirely devoted to a TV show’s final episode, and the other featured two scenes of characters saying goodbye at funerals. Through all the winks and nods to the audience, though, the show’s trademark sincerity remained. And in this penultimate pair of episodes, it was the supporting characters who were given the spotlight, reminding us of how much they’ve grown over the past seven seasons before we have to say goodbye to them for good next week.

My only complaint about this pair of episodes is that I would have switched their order, which is the first time I thought that all season. While I loved both episodes, “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show” (which I am going to just call “Johnny Karate” to save myself typing time) was so meta that it felt weird going into a more “normal” episode right after it was done. It would have felt more fitting as the immediate warmup to the series finale.

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TV Time: Castle 7.15

Source: tv.com

Source: tv.com

Title Reckoning

Two-Sentence Summary Castle and the rest of the team at the 12th precinct race to save Beckett from Jerry Tyson and Kelly Neiman. As the hunt for Tyson turns into a kind of psychological war between the mystery writer and the serial killer, Beckett works to free herself from Neiman’s clutches after the plastic surgeon reveals she has special plans for Beckett’s beautiful face.

Favorite Lines
Beckett: Every time I close my eyes, I see her face.
Castle: I see his, too—since that night on the bridge. You know how I deal with it?
Beckett: No.
Castle: I open my eyes and look at you.
Beckett: Thanks for coming to get me.
Castle: Always.

My Thoughts After seven seasons, Castle can still pull of a February sweeps two-parter like no other show in the business. In fact, it might have pulled off its most riveting two-parter yet with the one-two punch of last week’s twisted “Resurrection” and this week’s breathless “Reckoning.” This was Castle at its very best: confident, intelligent, emotional, and driven by pitch-perfect performances.

There was no easing into the action after the chilling cliffhanger of “Resurrection.” From the very start, we were put into Castle’s shoes, and the panicked, dark, increasingly desperate state he was in informed the tone of the episode from its first beats. In the world of television, some things are certain, and those certainties can sometimes keep us from losing ourselves in a storyline. We all knew Beckett couldn’t die, just like we all knew in this season’s premiere that Castle couldn’t be gone forever. However, the mark of a great actor is their ability to make you forget that you know how this is all going to work out. Stana Katic did that as Beckett wrestled with Castle’s disappearance, and Nathan Fillion did that in this episode. We might have known Beckett was going to survive, but Castle didn’t know that. And Fillion had to play Castle’s fear and uncertainty in such a way that it became real for us because it felt so real for him. I think the fact that I spent the majority of this episode watching through my fingers or crying (or both) speaks to how well he was able to get me to connect to Castle’s desperation, despite my knowledge that Beckett was going to be fine.

The characteristically excellent direction of Rob Bowman and score by Robert Duncan helped create the episode’s oppressive sense of tension without calling too much attention to themselves. Bowman’s penchant for shadows paired perfectly with the haunting musical cues to create an episode so dark and disturbing that I didn’t want go anywhere alone in the minutes after it was over.

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