May 21, 2012

Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23: "Daddy's Girl"


The first episode of a sitcom has to establish a number of things, from character to plot. That pilot has to show where we’re going to be, and who we’re going to be there with. Tone begins there, but won’t be fully grown until about half a dozen episodes have aired, give or take. The sense of world building, the idea that minor characters have a voice, what a typical episode will look like, and how various characters will interact, all gets a major jump-start in the second episode.

“Daddy’s Girl” is a slight step up from the pilot, mainly because June is becoming more defined, as are the minor characters around her. June wants a man, because she wants a baby, because that’s the life plan that she gave herself, and Lionel Richie’s “Hello” keeps playing in her head to remind her. She mistakenly complains to Chloe about her problem, and Chloe offers to set her up with a cute biker. Taking a cue from the show’s title, June waves her off, but Chloe finds a way behind her back and sets her up with the man anyways. He’s attractive, smart, a great listener and… Chloe’s dad.

Reveals are difficult in sitcoms, because most every one of them has been done, countless times. I’m sure some sitcom has pulled off this stunt before, or something close to it, but it hasn’t been run into the ground, like, say, if Chloe set June up with a girl, or with an unattractive man. That sense of genuine surprise is a nice piece of Apt. 23 that we haven’t seen before. It comes up again when it’s revealed that Chloe’s parents are still together, and her mother is in a wheelchair, weeping for the return of her husband. Chloe, being the bitch that she is, shrugs it off. She blames her mother for never taking her horseback riding or ice-skating, wheelchair be damned.

June is astonished at Chloe’s behavior, and the behavior of Chloe’s father, who seems as nonplussed as his daughter. If the show is going to continue in this fashion, with Chloe seemingly doing something nice, only for her inner ugliness to come boiling to the surface, June will have to learn to adapt. It won’t really make sense for her to act incredulous every time Chloe does something evil. For now, as the show is still young, it works, but not for too much longer. It’s the House problem. By the end of the first season, everyone should have learned to shut up and listen to Dr. House, but they didn’t. They continued to act as if this was the first time he gave a crazy solution, and he must be wrong. Chloe’s a bitch. She can stay a bitch, but all of the characters will have to realize that.

Speaking of other characters, James Van Der Beek continues to be a problem. While Beek is funny in his attempts to prove himself as a thespian, rather than just Dawson, his “character” still lacks. The neighbor obsessed with Chloe and the pervert in the building next door are also one-off jokes written as characters (though the pervert, Eli, gets a nice moment explaining to Chloe what her problem is). The best non-lead right now seems to be Mark, the man who was supposed to be June’s boss on Wall Street, and is now her boss at a coffee shop. He seems a little weary and confused. He looks to be our real eyes in this world. Though, right now, those eyes are still a bit hazy. Two weeks in, and Apt. 23 still isn’t positive about what it is, though it’s certainly working in the right direction.

Grade: B

Miscellaneous:

  • Van Der Beek proved how self-aware he is with a Funny or Die video a couple years ago, making fun of a meme of Dawson crying. By now, the joke that he gets that he’s washed up isn’t really enough to sustain a character.
  • Mark’s easily the funniest character on the show right now, if nothing else. He comes away with the episode’s two best lines:
    • “We can only make love in water.”
    • “Oh hey, a stuffed animal from a much older man. Nothing weird about that!”

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