This week’s episode of Review is an exercise in how the sketch-like nature of the show allows Andy Daly and company to try out all sorts of different comedy stylings. We see many different sides of Forrest McNeil, and that’s a journey into madness in many ways.
The first thing asked of Forrest is to be buried alive. There are many ways to go about this, but Forrest decides to handle it by bribing a gravedigger so that he can bury himself in an actual graveyard. Mostly, he’s bored, until he gets a call from Suzanne saying that she and the baseball playing man Joe Dale Jr. are getting married. This then recontextualizes this review into a spiritual successor of “30 pancakes.” This time, though, instead of completely falling into despair, he finds a little something deep inside him that allows him to punch his way out of the casket after his dumb intern Josh forgets where he is buried. Then the gravedigger thinks he is a zombie and hits him over the head with a shovel.
Forrest, replete with bandage around his head, which remains for the rest of the episode, is then asked what it is like to give something six stars. Naturally, this is the first review that Forrest wants to veto. His system goes from one star to five stars, and so shall it always be. As he says, if he changes the system, then this all means nothing. If that doesn’t give you an insight into Forrest’s mindset, then what does?
He has a pretty amazing workaround, though, as he begins a new show called Assess which works on a scale from two to six stars. He’s asked to review the best ice cream, but since he gets a little bit on his shirt he can only give it five-and-a-half stars. This means inventing yet another show, Evaluate, where everything gets six stars. That includes getting kicked in the balls. A.J. does the deed, but the first time around she only hits one testicle, and the evaluation was about getting kicked in both balls, so A.J. has to line it up again. Six stars.
Look, is a dude getting kicked in the balls twice original or intellectual comedy? No, but the way it plays out is hilarious. Forrest rolling around on the ground, while A.J. looks on in horror, is hilarious. Plus, the context makes it extra funny. The context is what gives the kicks weight. This is, after brief reflection, the best segment the show has ever done. The fact that, in the middle of a second season, Review can play with its format like this, and do it so well, is a testament to the creators’ ingenuity and smarts. The little openings for the new shows, the way Forrest changes the décor ever so subtly for the different shows, it’s all brilliant. It provides great character moments for Forrest, and also has him get kicked in the balls. What more can a viewer ask for?
Following up on the greatness of giving something six stars would be hard, but fortunately Review is up to the task. Forrest is asked to review public speaking, and decides the place to do it is at the rehearsal dinner for Suzanne’s wedding. He has a scathing speech ready, but upon viewing his wedding video, with a still alive Suzanne’s dad, and upon getting drunk at the dinner, he changes his plans.
What follows is, unsurprisingly, an awkward mess. It gets sweet, and it looks like Forrest will pull it off, and then he tries to propose to Suzanne. Then he fights Joe Dale Jr. and bites him in the leg. Then he lets out the truth about Joe Dale Jr. and the catfishing. It rivals the cringe comedy of The Office in its prime. It’s a reminder of the linear storytelling this show can do. Clearly, something is coming to a head for Forrest and Suzanne, and watching it play out in fits and starts during review sessions has been interesting. Then in the very end, A.J. throws in a happy little bye, which causes Forrest, with great annoyance, to throw in a goodbye as well, in order to get the last word in. Great moments to the very end.
This was a great episode of television. It’s hilarious and innovative and has a real storyline running through it. The sour notes are few and far between. It’s a great showcase for Daly. If he needed an Emmy submission episode, this would make a smart choice. It’s an episode worth six stars, be you on the Evaluate or the Assess scale.
Chris Morgan is not the author of THE book on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but he is the author of A book on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He’s also on Twitter.