My Boys – “Jack and Bobby”

“Jack and Bobby”

July 31st, 2008

When you look up the TV Dictionary definition of “Jack and Bobby,” chances are you’ll find the short-lived WB Drama starring Christine Lahti (I watched the show for the first few episodes, but eventually got bored). However, there’s now a second definition: “See: Setup Episode of My Boys.”

Yes, this is a dreaded setup episode: one that provides little bits of comedy which stands on its own merits but, for the most part, chooses to simply lay the groundwork for the momentous summer finale that we’re getting in a week’s time (At 9:00pm EST, as TBS shuffles their schedule). And while I don’t want to come across as one of those impatient people who can’t stand setup episodes, this one just wasn’t any good: the major storylines seem to be heading in predictable and ho-hum directions, and some smaller things are being ignored in favour of the broad scheme of things.

And thus we have an episode where even a long-gestating development finally springing to life just doesn’t have the punch the writers think it does.

In the category of “The Same as Last Week,” Brendan is still pining after his club owner (Who is still absent this week, and might not make the wedding) with mixtapes and other attempts to seal the deal, while PJ is still dancing around with Jack. Nothing has really changed: we open with the same conversation between PJ and Stephanie about not telling Bobby, and at this point we have a pretty clear picture of where they’re taking this. They spend most of the episode in the same place as PJ struggles to balance her responsibility as Bobby’s friend with her newfound relationship.

The real change in the episode is the usual, a timely character assassination that gives PJ an easier decision. Jack slowly but surely emerges as a total slacker loser in this episode (In other words, everything Bobby said he was); he refuses to listen to Bobby’s request, and eventually picks one of the most pointless fights in the history of fights. In the interest of disclosure, my brother and I have never fought so much, so maybe I just don’t understand the nature of sibling rivalry: but, really, the only thing that turned that into a fight was either Jack being a mean drunk or just being a douchebag.

The change of scenery doesn’t do that storyline any good, but it honestly kind of helps Mike. I love Mimi Rogers, in particular her great work on FOX’s The Loop, and here she doesn’t get much to do but stand around and look alluring while Mike falls into her clutches. This, again, feels like one of those setup things, but there was a great use of various shots of Mike sleeping that really played into the whole “Nap Partner” idea. I also felt that Mike’s quest to get drunk of wine was a smart use of the character: he’s not am imbecile, just more simple minded than the rest of them.

And really, the show wants us to be talking about the Kenny/Stephanie hookup, making out like mad in a broom closet. However, it wasn’t surprising: not only has their constant antagonism always been leading to this moment (At least in the cliched world of television – it would have been really interesting to just leave them as enemies), but the entire episode was Stephanie giving Kenny advice about how he should look like less of an idiot. That they eventually settled on “You’re not disgusting/You don’t look like crap” was a clear sign of their hookup: how Stephanie reacts, in particular, will decide once and for all whether the character is mature  enough to have a real career.

So next week, it’s about payoff…or so we hope. The promise of a cliffhanger means that some storylines might be dragged through the mud yet again, so expect plenty of awkward Mike recovery, awkward Kenny/Stephanie interaction, the eventual blowup over PJ being trapped in the battle of the brothers, etc. I’m just hoping that Brendan isn’t left at the altar by Jon.

Cultural Observations

  • Andy officiating the ceremony is a total sitcom cliche, but more confusing is the whereabouts of Andy’s family. Considering that Elsa was once his family’s nanny, I would expect that at least his wife would be invited to the wedding (I mean, they invited Stephanie). I don’t think her pregnancy is far enough along that she wouldn’t be able to fly. Which reminds me that Andy’s potential infidelity sure went out the window quickly, and I just realized that his wife was pregnant through it all. Jeez, the show liked to gloss over that, didn’t it?
  • I enjoyed seeing Christopher McDonald, who I remember best from Happy Gilmore, in the role as Bobby’s father, although he looks like neither of them. It’s a one-note performance, but his antics were the most direct example of comedy in the episode and they hit well enough.
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