HBO Comedy Block Week 5 Review

VEEP — THANKSGIVING (S5E5)

Forget everything else and just throw it out in the street, because it’s time for real talk folks…

Jonah Ryan is running for Congress.

Even without some of the better laughs of the season and the finest description of Selina Meyer ever uttered on the show, Jonah is a New Hampshire congressional candidate against the widow of Harry Sherman. It hasn’t even started yet and I’m positively giddy at the prospects of the comedy to come. This means I’ve done something right in my life. Somehow, somebody is looking out for me, because they knew I wanted this before I even considered it could exist.

While Selina works to stay in the Oval Office after her “debagging,” which left her looking like a demon from the seventh level of hell, everyone else is worried about himself or herself. It’s Thanksgiving on Veep, which is odd because we’re watching the episode in mid-May. That’s the breaks of the timing of the year, because David Mandel needed to get his characters in dining and living rooms in order for massive awkwardness and story progression to properly occur.

If not for the Thanksgiving setting, we don’t get the cringe worthy sequence inside the Brookheimer house as Amy’s father (Jerry/Gerry/Larry) goes after Dan for sleeping with both of his daughters. We never get Selina’s callousness in front of Catherine as it relates to the first Thanksgiving post-Meemaw. And, we never get the reaction of Richard Splett and the family to Jeff Kane (Peter MacNicol) first making Jonah’s year and then threatening everything he holds dear if all parties aren’t at the Ryan home for the holidays.

Also, I’m super-excited to have Peter MacNicol back on my television, even if he isn’t attempting to assassinate the President or bowing to Vigo the Carpathian before trying to steal Dana Barrett’s child. He can play a straight up douchebag, and can also turn around and hang out with Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz in an immensely endearing role. But this Jeff Kane guy, he’s the former. He may be a hobbit – an insult I can see coming from Ben before it’s all said and done – but he has angry man syndrome to the 42nd power.

Can you even begin to think of how poorly this whole Jonah thing is going to go when nephew decides he knows better than kingmaker uncle how best to win the vacant seat in the special election? How about when he goes off script in interviews or God forbid in a speech? It’s going to be brutally terrible, for everybody except the viewers. Us? We’re going to laugh ourselves silly. This is a stroke of real vision by the writers of this show. They simply chose to put an improved spotlight upon Jonah (and Timothy Simons, who has always batted 1,000 on the show) and just let him handle business. It’s going to rule, even if it’s brief.

There’s no show with more guffaws per capita than Veep, from Catherine naming turkeys “Drumstick” and “Cranberry” to Dan Egan allowing himself to become Tom James’ Gary, leading to that perfect spot where the two back into one another holding matching coffee trays. Even though we could all see it coming from eons away, it still worked immensely well. Also, after Ben comforts Mike by reminding him that his wife has a great rack, Kathy Najimy’s next on-screen appearance showcases her in the lowest cut top I’ve seen her in at any point on this show. It’s not that I went out of my way to notice, but because of the comment, if it wasn’t intentional, it should have been.

Tom James, as he tried to massage Dan Egan’s ego, referred to Selina Meyer as someone who treats her staff like an “alcoholic father who just stepped on a Lego.” If there’s a better way to describe this woman, I have no idea what it would be. The drunk who would blame his kid for that mistake is the same one that would make up a phony Chinese hacking story to rationalize his or her technical ineptitude on social media. The next thing that Selina blames herself for will be the first. I would be Team O’Brien, except I’m pretty sure he’s a terrible human being as well. As for Doyle, his cut the BS routine works so well as we’re all fully aware Meyer has never, at any point, kept anything even remotely close to a hundred on this show. Well, except for her desire to engage in sexual intercourse with Charlie Baird. That one was pretty clear to us, and everyone not named Gary.

But we’re again burying the key point here. Jonah Ryan is running for United States Congress, in a spot where Selina desperately needs the right person in place in New Hampshire to swing a potential vote from O’Brien. What else really needs to be said?

Bring on episode six.

SILICON VALLEY — THE EMPTY CHAIR (S3E5)

All I’ve got to say is THANK GOD. I was almost at the end of my rope with the stumbles of Richard Hendricks and at the second he unintentionally submarined himself as Laurie Bream was informing Monica of the larger plan, I actually rolled my eyes. I needed a win. And, through the eye of the needle comes Big Head and his Gavin Belson scoop that enabled Richard to barter his own stupidity out of the equation. That was the most Silicon Valley that Silicon Valley has ever Silicon Valleyed.

Prior to that moment, it was at least arguable that the chair was a better CEO candidate than Hendricks, because Gilfoyle made a damn good point about the chair never asking them to make a box. That was a terrific line that was at the essence of this show when it’s at its best. It was an honest, sarcastic piece of dialogue that was amusing while still being totally accurate.  

Seriously, I was actually angry watching Richard play egomaniac but still not be able to cogently make his points, and then when he did finally go off, it was at precisely the wrong time. Of course it was, because this is Silicon Valley. I was actually a bit annoyed. By the end of the episode, which was still very good despite my early frustrations, the show’s protagonists actually had a moment in the sun, and I’m going to plead with Mike Judge and his crew (despite the episodes already being in the can) to let Pied Piper just have some success for the next few weeks.

By the end of the season, I’m sure we’ll get the usual hollow victory and another string pulled that ends up sending the Hendricks peeps reeling into the summer. But, before Hooli unleashes the Kraken or some other company arrives on the scene or Richard contracts syphilis, can we just have some fun watching these guys…do well?

If the formula never changes, Silicon Valley remains a great show, but if we can occasionally get some longer spots of relief and positivity, our optimism will make us happier viewers. Whether that’s anything anyone cares about is irrelevant to me, because I just want to lure myself into the trap of believing good things are in these guys’ immediate futures. I know I’ll end up with egg on my face, but please, give me two episodes of people occasionally smiling before you pull the rug out from underneath us all.

Many less jokes than usual this week, but we still got plenty of Erlich fleecing Big Head and of course, the juicer issue. My new goal in life is to have a “fruit guy.” We also got to watch Dinesh and Gilfoyle outwit a senior citizen and the Geek Squad in the quest to recover a sensitive hard drive. That was entertaining television, including using “replace” to get a laugh at the tail end of the scene.

We also saw almost nothing outside of Raviga and Pied Piper (or their friends), as The Empty Chair was completely concerned with working Richard back into the CEO role, before again making him look like a dill hole almost falling out of the now occupied chair, in front of his new employees. That clumsiness still wasn’t as dumb as trying to block a reporter from exiting a parking spot when there are multiple escape paths available.

Richard is CEO, so he ended up being right as CTO when he went Donald Trump and fired everybody past the wall. My fingers are crossed that next week the group works on the platform, Erlich acts like an ass, and even if other sharks are circling, Pied Piper remains on top. As much as I enjoy this show, I did like the episode concluding with a regular heartbeat. It was a nice change.

Bachmanity Now!

I’m @GuyNamedJason. Seriously, do you know a good fruit guy? Ryan 2016.

Written by Jason Martin