"Pulling Your Weight" S1 / E4
- B+ Community Grade
I'm sorry for posting this the day after the episode aired. I was out late covering a show for the ol' AV Club Chicago, which started 45 minutes late. (It was a freakin' awesome Michael Jackson cover band, so it's all good.) Certainly, visions of dick-hugger pants have been swimming around your minds all night, so here's your outlet.
This was a strange episode for Michael And Michael, one that I feel should have been the pilot. For one, there were more taped sketches and show-within-a-show banter than any other one, and the in-episode fight between Showalter and Black started right from the get-go. It was perhaps the best display of the show's potential, on all three of those fronts., something I wish I had seen earlier.
And to all this I say: Nice work. The video sketch stuff, which dealt with a company producing dick-hugger pants and a gymnast who performs with a twisted ankle, wasn't overtly funny—novel, yes—but I think that's the point. Or rather, that's what the point should be. The real-life stuff is already so cartoony and silly, it's sort of nice to have State-like over-the-top video gags heighten that reality even more. The guys are comfortable being a little lame on the show, so it follows the sketches would be lamer. Embrace the lame, I always say.
The live banter stuff, absent from the last episode, came back tonight by borrowing from the main storyline: Michael Ian Black is accused of not pulling his weight around the office. So he and Showalter, in front of a live audience, walk through what a typical day is like for Black—in the most passive-aggressive way possible. After watching them fight behind the scenes, it's even more delightfully bitter to hear Black call Showalter a "fat Screech," then show the very telling visual.
But the best stuff by far, and as usual, is the stuff that happens in "reality." This episode was superior to the pilot, in that the conflict was established right up front. Showalter thinks Black is lazy, and he tells him in the first few minutes. (Black had to take a break from Twittering and Googling himself to even listen.) This causes Black to blatantly mock Showalter by staying super late to work on a sketch, then talk to Biederman behind Showlater's back about how he has to stop working every 90 minutes to make sandwiches. He's the lazy one (and fat). So Showalter tortures Black during the zombie sketch, running him ragged and doing take after take until Black vomits and heads to the hospital. The same one-upsmanship we've seen before, but starting from a much more extreme place.
The real strength in "Pulling Your Weight" is that the rest of the staff fawns over Black, which lends a real sense of desperation to Showalter's actions; even at the hospital, when it becomes obvious to Showalter that Black is faking (dead giveaway: Black's wife was at a jewelry show, and too busy to come to the bedside of her almost-dead husband), the rest of the staff continues to coddle Black. The truth's revealed just in time for the credits, giving a button-ending to a clean 21 minutes of great Comedy Central TV. The Michaels have created a modern indie-comedy variety show—get onboard while the gettin's good. I'll mush up your gordita for you.