The biggest shift in Delocated’s three seasons happened between seasons one and two, when the show went from producing 15-minute episodes to half-hour-long ones. Because I was catching up on Delocated in one long binge, I probably noticed the change more than someone might if they hadn’t seen a new episode since season one ended. And while I do think Delocated has for the most part kept the packed energy of that first season, there have been a few episodes that have felt strained, that probably would have been better served trimming the fat and streamlining the story. Or, possibly, eliminating the story all together and just focusing on jokes.
“Midnight Munchingtons” is such an episode. Jon wakes up one morning to discover that someone has prepared a nice meal in the middle of the night. TB suspects the Mirminsky family has parachuted inside the apartment and enjoyed the leisurely meal just to fuck with Jon; The Glaze thinks it’s a case of Nocturnal Eating Syndrome, or NES as he calls it. They convince the FBI to set up night-vision cameras around the apartment, and to everyone’s surprise, Jon is an incredible night cook, capable of whipping up fancy dishes without even the slightest culinary know-how while he’s awake. They pitch Midnight Munchingtons as a cooking show to Susan at the network, and she’s on board.
The rest of the episode builds off of this conceit: Sleep Jon can do things Awake Jon can’t. In the taping of the Munchingtons pilot, Jon fumbles his way around the kitchen, snores loudly, dry humps a pillow and calls it a night. He soon attracts the attention of a sweet young woman named Marlo, who it turns out only likes Jon when he’s asleep. So The Glaze suggests they try night-dating, and soon Sleep Jon is roller skating, eating ice cream, even having sex with Marlo. Watching Jon Glaser flop his body around with his eyes closed is a gag that just refuses to get old, especially given the enthusiastic reactions of Marlo and the less-than-enthusiastic reactions of TB. This is also an episode that capitalizes on Jon’s low-grade fame, like the episode where he makes soothing baby tapes. We’re all asked to buy into the fact that people wouldn’t question how dumb a concept his show is, simply because he’s relatively famous in that world.
It’s a great gag, don’t get me wrong. It’s such a great gag, though, that everything else feels extraneous. With the Mirminsky family and David out of the picture, “Midnight Munchingtons” builds on the elements of Delocatedthat were introduced at the beginning of the season. Jon deals more directly with the members of the Wang Cho gang, who are still concerned with milking Jon for every penny he’s got. They introduce different tiers of service to get Jon to buy more into the gang, but Jon starts to take advantage of his super-dragon-level status by venting all his frustrations to the gang’s members, expecting them to listen. They get fed up and demand that he leave, which prematurely ends the game that might have been explored in greater detail were it in its own episode, but now feels cursory to everything else that’s going on.
There’s also the matter of Jon’s depression upon realizing that Sleep Jon is much happier and more charismatic than Awake Jon. Upon realizing that Sleep Jon is getting all the action Awake Jon wants to get, he begins wallowing around the house and submerging himself in a bathtub. (I wonder how the masks hold up to getting soaking wet—Glaser told me that he only has a finite supply, so hopefully the masks can withstand repeated washings.) Jon’s emotional state changes all the time on Delocated. He’s either manic or depressed, and in both cases he’s completely codependent. It’s difficult to provide any nuance on the show, because there’s just no precedent for that kind of thing. Therefore, whenever Jon starts complaining about how upset he is at Sleep Jon, I find myself wishing for more Sleep Jon visual gags, which can cover a much wider range than the same ol’ groans Jon always makes about being lonely or miserable.
Though it’s not a super-strong Delocated episode, “Midnight Munchingtons” does demonstrate that the show has become much more of a showcase for Jon than it has for any of the supporting characters. It has a powerful comedic ensemble, but continues to be at its best when the focus falls on Jon—the least deserving recipient of that kind of attention. It’s harder to hit that point as strongly in 30 minutes as it might be in 15, but Delocated can do it. It’s done it before.