THE BOOB TUBE (1/6/15): ‘Agent Carter’ / ‘Mindy’ / ‘New Girl’ / ‘PLL’ / ‘Cougar Town’

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I’m sad to report that it’s the day after Tuesday. Why? Because Tuesday is apparently going to be the best day to be a lady on TV from now on.

As I gathered from watching five shows with at least one female leading lady last night (New Girl, The Mindy Project, Pretty Little Liars, the series premiere of Agent Carter and final season starter of Cougar Town) and anxiously awaiting next week’s return of the ever girl-powered Parks and Recreation, the second day of the week is doing its part in changing the meaning of “the boob tube” as we know it. Unfortunately, I can’t physically review all these shows in full in one night. But I can do mini reviews, so that all these equally-deserving equality-creating series get covered in some way. And that’s what I did last night and hope to do for as long as all these shows are airing on one single, lady-filled night.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I invite you to tune in for the first ever edition of THE BOOB TUBE! Also, please forgive me in advance for any boob puns. And NO, the letter grades have nothing to do with cup sizes, you pervs.

New Girl: “Shark”
Sad to report that I started the night with a lacklustre return from this former favourite and right off the bat, we got Nick and Coach judging Winston’s new female partner (Nasim Pedrad). Points for Jess attempting to try and make a local difference and a strong-willed woman giving that schmuck Schmidt some of his own treatment, however. But that latter point actually loses some seeing as it is almost a rehash of Schmidt being attracted to his powerful lady boss, or really any lady who can dominate him. It would be cool if we thought Schmidt just got turned on by strong women, but it seems more like a fetish than a respect thing and at this far into the series, it would be nice to see more growth. Speaking of which, when are we going to get to see Ryan, the new bf of Jess as played by super sexy PLL alum Julian Morris, actually interact with everyone instead of popping up here and there and playing Arthur (Dudley Moore version, not aardvark, nor Russell Brand, version) on the couch.

C+

The Mindy Project: “Stanford”
A nice Danny/Mindy out-of-town romp involving her slightly inappropriate intro to her Stanford fellowship with a solid Legally Blonde rework involving Mindy coming to a classroom in a sassy pink number (hey, wouldn’t that have been the perfect time for a Wreath–I mean, Reese–Witherspoon cameo?). And Ana Gasteyer is funny as a woman trying to get footsie with Danny under a table, but also underused, which is a total crime considering her talent (hands up fans of her Sheila Shay from the late, pretty great Suburgatory). Couldn’t we have spent more time with her and her poor oblivious boyfriend instead of going back and forth to that strange basketball side plot with Tamra, Morgan, Jeremy and Peter? Even if it did involve Space Jam references, that was one B story that, unlike Danny at that dinner, didn’t quite score.

B+

Pretty Little Liars: “Through a Glass, Darkly”
After that kooky Christmas special that saw our poor dead and gone Mona playing ghosts of Ali’s past, we get back to the Liars’ present and thankfully has them (and Mona’s mom’s hand!) standing up to their possibly murderous friend. What’s more is we get a nice flashback of Mona and Hanna–the show’s best non-Liar gal pal duo–in which the former admits the latter might be smarter than Spencer (a stretch mayhaps, but Hanna has been doing some great Nancy Drew work these days). Not sure Aria makes quite the scream queen Hanna did at Christmas or if it was the right choice to have Ali arrested right off the bat, but hey, maybe it’s time for A change up or two 2015? Too bad one of those changes had to see our Liar who likes girls lose hers to California. You’ll always have the Rosewood airport, Paige and Emily.

B

Agent Carter: “Pilot”/”Bridge and Tunnel”
Since she made her on-screen debut in the Captain America movies, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter has been a glorious addition to the male-dominated superhero genre. In addition to being sexy in–surprise, surprise!–a non-showy way (think nicely tailored, sophisticated ‘4os garb, great hair and subtle make-up), she’s smart, strong and, best of all, stuck on standing up to the unfair standards of her time by schooling the male agents at the Strategic Scientific Reserve (a.k.a. the predecessor S.H.I.E.L.D.). In the first two episodes of Agent Carter, which aired back-to-back on ABC and Canada’s CTV Tuesday, we get to see her fighting off bad guys while looking classy as heck and taking the piss out of the discriminatory expectations of the time. In the first scene alone, we got to hear her respond to a pal’s assertion that she get to dating because “there’s a difference between being an independent woman and a spinster” with “Is it the shoes?” Later, she takes advantage of her coworkers’ sexist ideas of that time of the month and sneaks off to beat them to the punches. And in between all this action-packed fun, Atwell gets to actually emote as she suffers the sudden loss of her roommate, remembers her supposedly dead former lover Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Cap) and relates to an actress-waitress struggling to prove her worth to the dudes she serves. This is the kind of stuff that we’ve all been waiting for on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and will miss when Agent Carter‘s short run (it’s meant to be a placeholder between S.H.I.E.L.D‘s half seasons) is over.

A

Cougar Town: “American Dream Plan B”
The final season debut of Cougar Town walks that fine line between sweetness and silliness the show has called home since it decided to stop literally living up to its name. Sure, fast-forwarding so that Laurie is full-out preggo (she learned she was at the end of last season) might have seemed like a cop-out at first, but it also allows us to dig right into some serious issues for the gang, namely Travis’ fear of being a bad dad and Laurie’s pain at not being able to pound grape with Jules as per usual. Busy Philipps wears the faux belly well as she loudly maneuvers around the way you would imagine pregnant Laurie would, while still maintaining a slight vulnerability. And on the flip side, Dan Byrd gets to share some nice stepfather-to-incoming-father moments with Josh Hopkins, even while the latter is in full Matrix garb (to appease Travis’ nerd sensibilities, of course). And in between these tender moments, there is some sweet physical comedy, even adjusted to Laurie’s current state (think Jules pretending her grasping an invisible wine glass was her doing “Lego hands”).  While not the funniest episode ever, it’s a nice, warm welcome to Cougar Town‘s last round and shows that it can still be pretty well-done with age.

B+

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