Recaps for Ben and Kate

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Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “The Trip”

Another week, another fairly strong showing from  Ben and Kate . "The Trip" isn’t extraordinary by any means, and it does slip up on some important character bits, which I’ll get to later, but on the whole, it provides all the necessary facets for an enjoyable episode of television. First, the side-plots, which, as usual, center around BJ and Tommy, for the most part. BJ, motivated by the discovery that Will has money, is motivated to get Tommy off his Kate obsession, to make sure Will sticks around to take her on vacations to all her favorites islands (including Thousand Island). The best bit of this was her telling Maddie "You must learn how to speak to servents." The Tommy stuff was good too, and took a step in the right direction, towards making him a more fleshed-out individual, but wasn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Guitar Face”

It’s conflict week on  Ben and Kate , and it’s not just the titular "Guitar Face," belonging to Will, that’s causing trouble; BJ is jealous now that Kate’s attention isn’t solely focused on her, and Ben is screwing things up for Tommy in pursuit of his own get rich quick schemes . And, with the exception of Tommy and Ben (which I’ll get to later), it all plays perfectly. The opening, with Kate and Ben tag-team parenting Maddie, is perfect, and shows off the easy chemistry the two leads have built up this season, while also letting Maddie speak just a little bit  more than normal. Eventually, I guess, she’ll have to be a real character, with personality traits beyond "standard child," but I appreciate that we’re getting there at a slow pace, rather than being thrust into quirky-child territory from the start. Will and Kate being annoyingly cute-couple-y would be horrible, if BJ weren’t there to react with the disgust any sane person should have to made-up text acronyms. But Will is looking a little too perfect, even if he is in a ZZ Top cover band called ZZ Scott, so BJ decides to spy on his ex-wife at a divorced women’s support group. The spying doesn’t last, though, and instead we get what may be the most interesting thing BJ’s done so far: she buys into Nan’s vague therapy-speak wholesale. Not that she believes it, or cares, or something; she just loves the attention. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Reunion”

If I were to put myself in the hypothetical shoes of a person who hates  Ben and Kate , and was asked to provide a reason for my hatred, the most logical thing I could think of would be that it’s a show that leans too heavily on it’s own nonexistent past. "Reunion" doesn’t do much to dispel that idea; it’s full of freshly-introduced back stories and revelations of personal history. For two of the main conflicts, it expects us to be invested  in long-standing grudges we’ve only just now found out about. Of course, if you were to ask the real me, wearing my own shoes, I’d cite that as evidence of the shoes excellence. Very little time is wasted on this show. Right in the opening (well, after the bit with Keith the turkey) we get introduced to Saruch (guessing on the spelling here) with absolutely no fanfare, as if we were already supposed to know who he was. His fashion non-competition with Tommy is a nice runner for the episode, the high note being Tommy’s entrance on clearly-Maddie-inspired Heelys. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Career Day”

It’s really kind of impossible for me to imagine anyone disliking  Ben and Kate . It’s just such an amiable, comforting blanket of a show. Look at "Career Day": it’s all built from familiar sitcom tropes (the friend /sibling interfering in a romantic relationship , the get-rich-quick scheme, countless other things), but it executes them all so well, and with such charm, that you can’t help but fall into loving it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this week, we’ve got the unbearably handsome Geoff Stults serving as Kate’s love interest . He’s a perfectly fine actor, but honestly, I just want this story to keep going so I can stare at his "too symmetrical" (according to Tommy) face. Less superficially, trying to navigate the beginnings of a relationship is comedy cold for Kate. The way she refers to sex with the sound of a creaky door opening and closing was maybe the funniest part of the whole episode. That, or the fact that she referred to her eyes as "lookin’ balls." Read More... //

FOX: Fall Reviews

By: Tim Holland BEN AND KATE , played winsomely by Nat Faxon and Dakota Johnson, are odd-couple siblings who share a house in this sweet-natured sitcom that generates big laughs due to its sharply-honed script and terrific cast that also includes Maggie Jones from We Bought a Zoo as Kate’s adorable daughter. But what else would you expect from the executive producers behind New Girl ? My advice: get acquainted with this charming brother-sister duo when they premiere September 25 at 8:30pm. THE MINDY PROJECT stars Mindy Kaling of The Office as an OB/GYN who is more interested in finding Mr. Right than she is in taking care of her patients in this comedic misfire that wastes the talents of everyone involved. Perhaps the title says it all: The Mindy Project comes off more as an in-the-works project than a fully-developed idea, let alone comedy. Mindy, the character, is so unlikable it’s difficult to care about her romantic misadventures. To be fair, the series is adding a few new characters that weren’t in the original pilot but, unfortunately, Mindy is still there. My advice: Don’t get involved with this pitiful Project when it premieres September 25 at 9:30pm. Jordana Spiro stars in THE MOB DOCTOR as a promising young surgeon at a Chicago hospital who is forced to be a part-time off-the-books doctor for the city’s Southside mob in order to erase her brother’s huge gambling debt. Spiro is terrific in the title role, and the pilot is intense, unpredictable and populated with well-rounded characters. My advice: Make an appointment with The Mob Doctor when it premieres on September 17 at 9pm.

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Scaredy Kate”

I can’t be sure, as I haven’t watched any earlier episodes since they aired, but "Scaredy Kate" might justbe the best  half hour  Ben and Kate  has put forward in its (short) life so far. It’s a Halloween episode, sure, but it doesn’t rely on kooky costumes or seasonal gimmicks for its laughs. Instead, it feels like something that arose naturally from the characters we’ve come to know, and hopefully love. So BJ is attempting to convince Kate to ditch her usual stay-at-home Halloween night plans, and try to go have fun for a change. It almost doesn’t work, until her hot neighbor stops by and invites her to a party, and she responds by mumbling incoherently and yelling "TRICK OR TREAT" after him as he walks out the door. And that’s where we get at the core idea of this episode, that Kate has no idea what she’s doing with men since becoming a mother, and she thinks she has to change the way she is to find a guy. Except she can’t really do that. And it’s absolutely hilarious. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Emergency Kit”

With "Emergency Kit,"  Ben and Kate  is really working on expanding its world, and it ends up hitting a little and missing a little, alternately. The core  of the episode , which centers on Ben bucking up against Kate’s overprotective parental anxiety, is strong, and provides the most reliable laughs of the night. That’s proof to me that, even when the episode isn’t as consistently hilarious as the last few have been,the basic  engine of the show is enough to keep it going for a long while to come. Tommy and BJ had a pretty good night too. Although we didn’t get any clear development of Kate and Tommy’s possible romantic involvement hinted at in the end of last week’s episode, he does shift towards the middle from his previous position solidly on Ben’s side. The way both Fox siblings use the same reverse psychology trick on him is delightful, as is his complete inability to lie about being sent to spy. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “21st Birthday”

"21st Birthday" is just one more in a run of solid episodes of Ben and Kate , and proof that this show is sturdy and dependable. The story is solid, the characters  are defined, and the jokes succeed more often than they fail. We’re only on the fourth episode, but the show already is filling out  its world and the history  of its characters in a way that feels natural and organic. So let’s start with the history, which popped up here much more prominently than it has before, in the shape of Ben’s ex-girlfriend (who we saw in the pilot as well) and Kate’s friend from her pre-motherhood days. Neither of those characters felt entirely three dimensional, which could have potentially brought the whole episode down, but the action around them was solid, and they didn’t need to feel like real characters, when we already have 4 real characters (plus a child) to work with. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Review “The Fox Hunt”

Slowly but surely,  Ben and Kate  is worming its way into becoming one of my favorite comedies on television. "The Fox Hunt" is the third in a string of strong episodes that have only gotten better, and the show doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The premise of the episode is a pretty common sitcom device. It’s a competition episode, tied up with childhood family trauma and boys vs. girls. But that’s just fine, because  Ben and Kate  isn’t interested in breaking new ground tearing apart sitcom tradition ; it’s interested in executing the tropes of the genre to their fullest potential, and it doesn’t disappoint. Fitting with the mythology of the characters they’ve already established so far, Ben used to win every single annual Fox family scavenger hunt, and Kate’s still a little bitter about it. It comes up when Ben finds out she wants to take some business classes and calls her stupid, even though he didn’t mean it (but really, he meant it.) It’s a solid jumping-off point, and the scavenger hunt allows for the main quartet of the show to go off into their own worlds for most of the episode, only coming back together in the end. Read More... //

Ben and Kate Season 1 Review “Bad Cop/Bad Cop”

It was clear from the start of  Ben and Kate  that Nat Faxon’s Ben was going to be a constant source of comedic energy; what "Bad Cop/Bad Cop" proves is that Dakota Johnson provides the other half of the titular sibling pair with enough to match. It is, however, of a different flavor, which is all for the better. If we had two cocky jerkwads at the center of a show, it would be insufferable. Instead, we get a Kate that’s crippled by anxiety , which propels the plot of tonight’s episode forward. Read More... //