The Judge Daryl Loomis Project is to eat a hundred pounds of cheese in a month.
"The downside of being a woman who can make her own decisions is that you have to make good decisions."
When Mindy Kaling (This Is the End) left her role on The Office to start her own program, I didn't know what to think. Kelly Kapoor was a fun character, but she was always a little one-note, so I didn't know what this new show, The Mindy Project, would offer. I didn't give it a chance at first, because I'm a jerk like that, but when I finally sat down to watch it, I found a smart and funny ensemble comedy with a genuine charmer at the helm. The first season was very good, but still trying to find its legs. The second season shows a series beginning to come into its own, with all the laughs now on DVD from Universal.
Facts of the Case
When we last left Mindy Lahiri (Kaling), she had run off to Haiti with her fiance and given up her Ob/Gyn practice for love. We'll see how all that goes over the next 22 episodes
I'll leave the plotting at that, because The Mindy Project really builds off its previous episodes to drive the show, so I don't want to spoil anything. Regardless, given that Mindy is in a doctor coat on the cover, it should be pretty clear that Haiti doesn't go so well for her. So, returning to New York and her practice, her search for honest love continues.
When I first started watching the show, its heavy reliance on romance made me think it wouldn't last for me, but Kaling sells the show brilliantly. That's because she doesn't really glamorize herself; much of the time, she is a self-hating sad loser who is too neurotic and self-obsessed to really have a relationship, and the rest of the time, she's an ultra-competent doctor whose skills are never in doubt. This combination of workplace comedy and Kaling treating herself really poorly makes the show for me, giving it a feeling somewhere in between The Office and Louie, which is pretty hard for me to argue with.
This season takes us out of the confines of apartments and doctor's offices, with trips to Haiti, Los Angeles, and the Empire State Building being just a few of the stops along the way. One big romance dominates the season, and though when it started, I dreaded all the kissing that was going on, Kaling does the smart thing by undermining it almost immediately, making it a driving force on the show, but without it actually happening. There isn't the "will they-won't they" garbage that most comedies saddle audiences with; here, it's "yes they will if either one of them can get their head out of their backside long enough to see it," which makes for funny and refreshing television.
Kaling absolutely shines in the lead role. Her wit and charm are immediately evident, but her conception and writing for the show are equally excellent. Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) officially becomes the number one male on the show this season and, with some especially funny rants, steps ahead of the rest in both story importance and comedic success. Ed Weeks takes a backseat this year, much like Paul Schneider's Mark Brendanawicz in Parks and Recreation did. At times, the character is almost forgotten and there's no real loss felt. New this year is Adam Pally (The To Do List) as young frat bro doctor Peter Prentice, who took a little getting used to, but came into his own by season's end.
Additionally this year, we get another set of guest stars, including James Franco (127 Hours), Bill Hader (Superbad), Chloë Sevigny (Big Love), and Timothy Oliphant (Justified), amongst others. It's a good, fun group of people in this show, making it one of my favorite ensembles on television, especially since most of my favorite ensembles are about to go away or are already gone.
The Mindy Project doesn't always hit the mark with the jokes, but there are plenty of hilarious episodes throughout the season. When it doesn't come across as funny, it's mostly because the episode is really sad and that adds more weight to the show as a whole. It doesn't have to be a joke a minute to work, and it has a really nice balance of jokes and genuine heart.
The 22 episodes of The Mindy Project: Season Two are spread over three DVDs from Universal. The image, while not HD quality, is still pretty good, with strong colors, realistic flesh tones, and decently crisp detail. The 5.1 surround track is nothing special, but the dialog is perfectly clean at all times. Extras include deleted scenes for each episodes and a short gag reel, so nothing particularly special.
The Mindy Project might not be the most consistently hilarious show on television, but it's very smart and a lot of fun. It's a great showcase for Mindy Kaling, but with such a great ensemble around her, it's an excellent program, better than almost anything else currently on network television.
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