A waffle in the bath

The Mindy Project – “The Other Dr. L”

When The Mindy Project has a problem standing in its character’s way, it knows only one solution: throw rom-com or workplace comedy tropes at it until it relents. Tonight, The Mindy Project had a Dr. James Franco problem, so the only real question was what they’d use to get him out of the picture. And amid all that, Danny plays basketball with Bill Hader and Kris Humphries, because why the hell not?

We open on Mindy in a Skype chat with Casey, attempting to recreate the whipped cream bikini from Varsity Blues. Of course, being Mindy, it goes terribly, and she finds herself being attacked by ants, and there’s an implication that there’s a gummy bear in her vagina, which makes the whole thing a little disturbing. The next day at work, Mindy attempts to reclaim her office from Dr. James Franco, but he won’t go down easy, and being handsome and charming, he’s got the whole office on his side. Danny’s even letting him stay at his apartment! Mindy is relegated to a closet (with a hot pipe, where Morgan dries out his swimsuits), has no patients, and is ignored by the rest of her office, who happen to be her only friends.

Mindy, desperate to find a solution, begins plotting once she learns that Dr. Franco is a huge lightweight. She challenges him to a shots-off where the winner takes back the office, and she beats him without mercy. As a gesture of goodwill, she takes Dr. Franco back to Danny’s apartment, but can’t find the keys, so she leaves him in the hallway to sober up (but not before stealing a weird, goofy drunk kiss). But who should arrive shortly but Christina, Danny’s once-again-ex, who helps a now-pantless Dr. Franco into their apartment for hot, steamy revenge sex.

The next day, Dr. James Franco comes clean to Mindy about having sex with Christina, and wants to come clean to Danny, but opts to just tell Danny he’s quitting the practice to join the army instead when confronted. Danny is suspicious, and accuses Dr. Franco and Mindy of having sex the night before, and Dr. Franco finally comes clean. Danny pounces on Dr. Franco, causing him to leave the practice for good, and restoring order to The Mindy Project for at least another week.

Last week I was worried that James Franco wouldn’t be properly utilized in his time on The Mindy Project, and I was glad to be proven mostly wrong by this episode. Every scene he and Mindy share is fantastic, most of all the shots-off, and his affable energy felt very much at home in the show. And then, the show did something weird: at the end of the episode, they gave him a voice-over (a recording of his resignation), and play it over a montage of life returning to normal in the office (and Danny burning his sheets), intercut with slow-motion scenes with him from last week’s premiere. It was one of the episodes weirdest moments, and remember, this is an episode where Danny plays basketball with Kris Humphries.

I was disappointed to see such a poor story for Danny this episode. Apparently Danny’s having trouble coping with losing Christina again, so he joins a single-men-only support group/basketball team, which also includes one of Mindy’s former flames, Tom (a returning Bill Hader). It’s a silly plot that never goes anywhere, and Bill Hader is strangely muted, except for when he gets ultra-creepy with Mindy at the bar. Along with the bizarre appearance of Kris Humphries, the story just felt like an undercooked mess cluttering up the sides of the episode.

But overall, I’d say “The Other Dr. L” was an improvement over last week’s premiere. At the very least, it was funnier (the whipped-cream-bikini bit and the drinking contest were both great set-pieces, something The Mindy Project excels at at it’s best), and with the megastar out of the picture, maybe the season can start to pick up some real momentum. I’d cross my fingers, but I’m just going to eat a waffle in the bath instead.

Stray Observations:

  • No mention of Dr. Reed’s weight problem this episode, minus the one mention of the waffle, which, okay, whatever. If they’re going through with the story, I at least want them to do it instead of stalling. We’ll see what happens.

  • Tamra, Betsy, Morgan, and Beth Grant are all mostly non-entities in this episode, each getting a couple of lines at most. Of course, Beth Grant’s is another funny-cause-she’s-middle-aged sex joke, but I’ll be honest, if she’s there, she might as well make ’em, cause they’re always good for a chuckle.

  • We actually got to see Casey in “Haiti,” aka a very sparse “int. cabin” set. This is the kind of involvement I’m okay with for right now: pop up for Mindy to do some physical humor in front of the webcam, then disappear. I don’t know if it’s a sustainable model, but I hope they’ll hold off on putting some drama between them.

  • Let’s be honest, Mindy blowing the smoke ring was pretty awesome. That whole segment was top-form Mindy Kaling.

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