I didn’t have super high expectations for the last of the first-season remnants, and maybe that’s why I liked “A Weekend In The Hamptons…” much more than the previous ones. It seemed like a return to form, with two of the three characteristics I like best about the show making a reappearance.
First, there’s the weird sweetness buried deep beneath the shouts of “SCROTUM!” These may essentially be cartoon characters doing cartoon things, but the relationships between them don’t reset after every episode as if they were Simpsons or Animaniacs. It’s been surprisingly endearing watching different sorts of friendships developing between these weirdos—Chloe-June now is different from early Chloe-June, which is different from June-JVDB, and Chloe-JVDB, and JVDB-June’s mom, and Chloe-Luther, and June-Mark, etc. And, for the first time, we get to see a JVDB-Mark pairing here, as they drunkenly work out JVDB’s Dancing With The Stars demons via being terrible at dancing and basketball together. Because when you’re trapped in a bag with memory cats, you gotta punch your way out.
The second thing I really like about Apartment 23 is the unpredictability, which... half came back. If you have to analyze TV on a regular basis (or maybe if you just watch a lot of TV?), it can sometimes get a bit disheartening how often, given Point A, it's possible to accurately extrapolate plot points B through E, as if the characters are wind-up toys that will only travel in straight lines. But this show is good at avoiding that most of the time—these characters don’t feel interchangeable, and they feel alive enough that if you wind them up at Point A and aim them at Point B, they might eventually turn up setting fire to Point J.
And that doesn’t come entirely from the McFarlane School of Non Sequitur Comedy, though the writers have clearly audited a few classes there. Characters on Family Guy, American Dad, or the shows that picked up their characteristics can easily accomplish “Wow, I didn’t see that coming”—hell, they barely have to try, because they can just parachute in some aliens or whatever. Apartment 23 has a remarkable record of landing both “Wow, I didn’t see that coming—” and “—but it makes perfect sense; ooh, I should have seen that coming!” (Examples: June’s new boyfriend being Chloe’s dad, the jam-fetish site, even Chloe’s new boyfriend’s dialogue heard with martini goggles on and off in “Whatever It Takes…”)
Here, we definitely got a good surprise in Chloe sort-of being married to Willoughby, aka Nick Thune, but it doesn’t really have the second “ooh, I should have seen that coming!” factor, and also doesn’t really go anywhere beyond the initial “No, that’s Bernard. My husband” punchline. Hell, they’re not even really married—they just got pretend-hitched at a wedding party where everyone dresses up like brides and grooms, which is something that I would like to throw as soon as possible. In fact, Chloe really has the least interesting stuff going on in this episode of all the characters. Well, I guess she does get to have sex with Lenny Kravitz in the bushes—and it’s still good.
(The third thing I really like about the show? When the writers give Krysten Ritter something really good and crazy to work with—shorthand is “Tranq Gun Chloe”—Ritter always seems down to run with it. But, like I said, there wasn’t so much of that tonight.)
So! Since this one was supposed to be the first-season finale, it makes sense that all the characters end the episode on the verge of big changes. June’s finally got a finance job! JVDB’s going to make a movie! Mark is single, and resolved to tell June how he feels! Poor Robin’s about to quietly vanish off the face of the earth! Even though it’s only a few weeks until the next new episode after the holidays, knowing that it’s going to be all (presumably more polished) second-season episodes from now on is something to look forward to.
- Though there’s no direct shots of the labels, Mark appears to be drowning his sorrows over his breakup in something that looks very much like Mike’s Hard Lemonade. My hopes of seeing what his eating-disordered, controlling demon-lady girlfriend could possibly look like are crushed. (Perhaps the last piece of trivia we learn about her is that she doesn’t like it when Mark shops at mom-and-pop stores, because the food might be dusty.)
- Of course June’s disaster kit has a label with a frowny face on it.
- I’d heard some of Nick Thune’s stuff before, but had no idea that he looked like a weird cross between Ian Somerhalder, Adam Scott, and Chuck Bass. (Maybe the Chuck Bass part was mostly the bow tie. Speaking of, have you read Sonia Saraiya’s writeup on the series finale of Gossip Girl yet? Because it is solid gold.)
- “I’ve never seen him like this! He’s stopped Googling himself!” One of the terrible symptoms of JVDB’s DWTSPTSD. (Sorry.)
- “That hat was given to you by Mr. Jason Mraz.”
- If I see that Dior perfume commercial with Natalie Portman and that goddamn Serge Gainsbourg song or hear “Every kiss begins with Kay” again, my X chromosomes are going to explode. Jesus.
- Luther has a rocking chair in the bathroom… the Luther-Robin pairing didn’t gather much steam, but I loved his weird little monologue.
- “Who was that actor that I thought was Claymation—NATHAN LANE!”
- “When you said you had new twins, I thought you meant a boob job!” I looked up Olivia Dudley, the actress who plays the poor new mom, because I couldn’t place where I’d seen her before. The answer is 5 Second Films (and it took everything I had to finish writing this review instead of immediately watching a hundred of those in a row like Pringles), but since it took a little clicking around also learned that she was “pot smoker (uncredited)” in Walk Tall: The Dewey Cox Story and that her boobs have their own Facebook page.