Friday, December 7, 2012

Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23

Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23
Episode 4: It's a Miracle
Episode 5: Whatever it Takes
By: Carlos Uribe

Don't Trust the B— in Apt. 23 is about Chloe, a total crazy girl, and June, an almost crazy girl. It also has James Van Der Beek playing himself.

Spoilers Ahoy!

It's a Miracle:

It's the Thanskgiving episode of Apartment 23 and it's a pretty great one. June is sad that she can't afford to go home for the holiday so she tries her best to help people in the city. This leads to a hilarious montage where all her attempts at charity misreably fail. June's plight moves Chloe convinces Chloe to find a way to get June to go home for Christmas. This involves a large and elaborate plan. The first step is that she'll spend Thanksgiving with her family and she's dragging June with her. The situation is complicated because Chloe's father briefly had an affair with June. They didn't consumate it but it came close. Chloe reveals that her mother knows that the mistress is June. Her mom is okay with June coming over for Thanksgiving dinner because her whole family now thinks that June was in a terrible horseback riding accident. June has to pretend to be disabled so that she can be accepted into the home in peace. This leads to a lot of great visual gags, including one where she has to get on a staircase elevator that moves painfully slow. It does make June realize just how great having working legs really is.

It is Thanksgiving dinner where Chloe reveals that June has been faking her injury this whole time. There is a really great scene where Chloe forces June's body out of the chair and June's body just plumps down. The visual joke is funny but it's made better by the mother's declaration that Chloe does this to her all the time. June does stand up eventually as she tries to pass off as miracously healed. Only a single old lady actually buys it. June blurts out that the only reason she did it is because she thought it was the only way Chloe's mom wouldn't mind having her over since her husband had an affair with her. This is the first time Chloe's mom hears about this and June is kicked out of the house. At the end of th episode, Chloe reveals that her parents have asked her to find a new roommate and she got some money. Chloe gives June half the money and reveals she did all of this just so that June can be with her family. It's a really nice scene that helps to really show just exactly who Chloe is. She might lack morals but she's willing to do anything for her friends. It is a crucual characteristic to show because the series needs Chloe to be immoral but likeable at the same time. Having her act crazy to help her friends is one way to do that.

There is also a whole sub-plot involving James Van Der Beek and Luther. James signs up to do charity work at a church so that People magazine will take a picture of him. Once the picture is taken, he tries to leave but the charity organization predicted this. They find James and threaten to tell the world that he pretended to help for the publicity. James and Luther are forced to actually help the poor. It's a funny, albeit predictable story. A large problem I've been finding with James Van Der Beek is that it has become painfully obvious what his plots are going to be. A huge part of Apartment 23 is it's unpredictability with Chloe and at times June. Having a character that has become this predictable therefore feels like the writers aren't really trying anymore with James.

It's a Miracle was almost a great episode-held back simply because the writers went with the predictable, albeit funny, jokes for James Van Der Beek and Luther.

Whatever it Takes:

When Apartmenr 23 finished airing last season, it had only shown about half of the episodes produced. What happened to those episodes? They were held over so that they could air this season. I believe this is the first episode from the first season to air this season. Need proof? Simply look at the James Van Der Beek story. What is he doing? He's meeting his dance partner on Dancing with the Stars. That was a plot that the end of the first season had been pursuing but it hasn't been mentioned until now. Which is insanely odd to watch a plot that hasn't been shown in a while reintroduced all of a sudden. This isn't the episode's fault as there was no way the producers could have predicted that it would air after the second season had already begun. This is just a case where the episode order did influence the enjoyment I got from it. It doesn't help that even taking this into consideriation, Whatever It Takes is the worst episode this show has done. It has some funny moments but most of it is filled with lazy and weak jokes.

Since we're already talking about him, we might as well cover the James plot first. It's basic: James meets his dancing partner, she ends up being terrible, and June's mom tries to give him advice on how to resolve the situation. James tries to switch partners with Dean Cain only to fail. June's mom's advice is to get him to finance the movie that his dance partner wants to be a part of. Since James doesn't want to appear as a fool on national television, he accepts. The problem with this plot is that I can name the only time I laughed: when Dean Cain was mentally flipping James off. That's because the joke was original while the rest was largely what you would expect. Making matters worse is that this inadvertently continues the streak of episodes in the second season where James has been placed in predictable predicaments. Once again, this isn't completely the fault of the episode since it was supposed to air before the streak even began.

What about the main plot? Yikes. June wants a job but the only way to get it is to have her roommate and best friend drunk date a mentally disabled individual for a few days. When the best friend tries to get sober, June practically roofies her best friend. She didn't need to do that since Chloe was perfectly fine dating a man whose worth over three billion dollars. That just makes June's behavior worse. When June realizes that the man has a wife and a kid, June decides to quit this job and to get Chloe to break up with the guy. There were some funny moments that worked but it was mostly filled with a lot of moments where I didn't think what I was watching was funny. This is partly because the show went a bit too far with June's behavior. That she roofies her best friend so that Chloe will continue to sleep with a mentally disabled guy is simply reprehensible in a way that definably crossed the line. That's because the show didn't act like the behavior was terrible but justifiable. Once the series tried to justify June's behavior and I realized what was wrong with the episode besides the weak jokes: it simply didn't have any restraint.

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