The Mindy Project sure gets a lot of flack, considering the fact that it's one of the more progressive shows currently on TV – one of the only, in fact, to star a woman of color. Oh, and there's the little detail that it's also written and produced by said woman of color. To pay credit to Mindy Kaling, of whom I'm a big fan, she is one of the few figures in network TV who seems to be making a difference.
But that doesn't make it any easier to watch as many of her female characters slowly get sidelined in favor of new male characters. Shauna is all but a dim memory, and Gwen Grandy, along with pretty much all of Mindy's female friends, have disappeared from the fabric of the show completely. Zoe Jarman's hapless receptionist Betsy Putch is the latest to leave the show, after a season wherein she got roughly one line of dialogue per episode. Even the female cast members that remain (Xosha Roquemore and Beth Grant) are, in general, woefully underused.
Jarman's departure has extra sting to it, as she was one of the last original cast members left standing. And the fact that she's the latest in a long string of ladies to leave the show, likely for good (she's been invited to guest star in sSeason 3, but hey, so was Anna Camp) doesn't exactly bode well either.
Kaling has said that above all, she just wants "to use funny people." We're all for that, but would it hurt to audition a few extra actresses before hiring another funny man? Our fingers are crossed for an ultra-talented comedienne to join Shulman and Associates as Betsy's replacement... or better yet, another doctor.
The Mindy Project might need a name change. Mindy Kaling's show's moniker, a nod to the nondescript title given to many television pilots, is in danger of becoming outdated very soon.
Fox Broadcasting Chairman of Entertainment Kevin Reilly sent shockwaves through the industry when he told the Television Critics Association that the network was no longer going to participate in the traditional pilot season, when a number of prospective TV shows are rushed into production for an initial episode so that executives can decide which ones to add to their schedule. Pilot season has been an ingrained way of doing business for TV networks and producers for so long that it's hard to imagine it disappearing.
The time is right, however, for the other networks to follow Fox's lead and get rid of the outdated model. The simple fact is that most pilots are a waste of time and money. There are advantages for the people involved in the production of the shows, since pilot season has traditionally been one of the busiest times in Hollywood with everyone from actors to grips to caterers getting an extra payday. The issue is the quality of the pilots themselves.
Writers languish for months over pilot scripts, since they are a project's initial calling card. When a network orders a pilot, though, the rush to get the work from page to screen typically leads to a harried work environment. Many good ideas and scripts have been killed by the execution of the pilot as time and money take precedence over creativity and craftsmanship.
Reilly pointed to the model used by cable networks where shows are developed more slowly and in an ongoing fashion, with only the shows that the network is truly interested in airing going into even initial production. He also noted the success that cable has had with shorter seasons — something that was borrowed from the British tradition of doing compact runs of shows.
As much fun as it might have been to wonder what The Coolio Project was like when it appeared on production lists — or better still to get a copy of the unintentionally hilarious results — the creative process works better with more time and patience.
It's time for the other networks to follow Fox and dim the lights on the traditional way of doing pilots. The creative energies of all involved would be better served elsewhere.
Dr. Lahiri got out of the city and onto some reappropriated upstate farmland this week on The Mindy Project, when her former pastor boyfriend booked a DJ gig at the fictional Pennyfarthing Music Festival. Casey, aka DJ Sacrament, is delighted by every hula hoop and old-timey mustache he sees. While Mindy, like any self-respecting city dweller, finds the whole thing to be a little aimless. "Like the '60s," she says, "but without any kind of higher purpose." Road trip episodes are always good for a change of pace, and this one also allowed Mindy Kaling and her fellow writers to send up every annoying aspect of these indie rock fests. We hold the following music festival truths to be self-evident.
1. "Is there going to be a single black person performing at this festival?"
If you mean the bands Black Kids, Black People, or The Black Keys, then yes. If you mean actual black people, then no, probably not.
2. Gratuitous shirtlessness
Mindy's lightning-fast indoctrination into festival culture comes courtesy of a really, really big dude, whose unclothed girth "rolls" into her mouth.
3. Adults in dumb costumes
A quick scan of The Mindy Project's well-cast and accurately wardrobed extras reveals fairy wings, flower crowns, weird animal masks, and the aforementioned handlebar mustache. For some of us: Halloween. For hipsters: a Tuesday.
4. The square who takes it all too seriously
Dr. Castellano forgoes that whole "free spirit" thing in favor of a well-studied map and an "in case we get separated" plan.
5. Performance art that's no different than what you'd see during kindergarten freetime
And if you don't give it a wide berth, then you'll end up an unwilling participant.
6. That special soul dancing all by himself
Where are your friends, dude? Should we call someone?
7. The guy who gets stoned and thinks he's invincible
We wouldn't be surprised if Morgan's pot cupcake binge and cannonball onto solid ground are based on a true story.
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.