Friends, I have a deep appreciation for Tim Daly stemming all the way back to his film debut in Diner. So while The Mindy Project’s stunt-casted dates for its title character can get a bit tedious (“from the tall and white, to the short and white,” as she herself puts it in this episode), it’s hard not to get behind this one. Here, Daly plays against type as a streetwise New York detective who sounds like he’s doing an impression of someone; I could be wrong, but I think he’s riffing on Danny, as his older, grittier future self. Even Danny’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-her girlfriend comments that his personality basically just seems like a “cranky old man character.”
One upside of the abrupt Mindy-Danny breakup is that now Danny stars in the B-plots, and this week, he gets an excellent cohort that we haven’t seen him with too much: Peter. Shulman and Associates is now always scheming to get more patients: A few weeks ago, it was a ballet company, and now, it’s thousands of Jewish women if they could just win over Rabbi David Adler (Peter MacNicol). At least this week’s effort gives us the effective Peter-Danny pairing, with Peter charming the rabbi and his family with jokes like “Harry Connick Jew, everybody,” and “Challah!” Unfortunately, the dinner party is ruined by a way-too-slapsticky non-circumcision reveal, but Peter and Danny’s argument afterward makes up for it. Peter seems to have more insight into the Mindy-Danny relationship than the two people actually in it, as it turns out that he’s mad at Danny not just for dating his sister, but for dating his sister when it’s obvious he really cares about somebody else. He knows Danny’s lying about his feelings, despite the feeble protests (“I don’t lie; I can’t remember the last time I lied, besides everything I said tonight”), and it’s a relief when he calls Dr. Castellano on it.
Because Danny’s affection for Mindy is obvious to everyone in the breakroom scene. Let’s face it, we’ve been starved for some Mindy-Danny time since the breakup, and this scene is delightful as Danny’s relief that he and Mindy are talking again is so readily apparent. They’re teasing each other; she’s calling him a dork. It’s just like how it used to be except, now that they’re exes, there are apparent worlds of hurt and deeper meaning under the teasing. The scene shows that the chemistry between these two is far from over and is undeniable.
But speaking of chemistry… in the week’s other so-farfetched-it-could-only-happen-in-a-sitcom plot, Mindy’s teenage patient (B.K. Cannon) moves in with her after her dad gets mad that Mindy prescribed her birth control. Fortunately for us all, that dad is portrayed by Tim Daly. Maybe Mindy’s type is handsome, grumbly curmudgeon types? Because she and Tim Daly play off each other so effortlessly in this episode as well. Unfortunately, this plot is also bogged down by improbability after improbability, culminating in a teenage sex party at Mindy’s house (Mindy: “It’s like a cognac ad in here!”), but it’s pretty much worth it just to see Tim Daly whip his ticket pad around and write Mindy up for “public female hysteria.” Or to bark at her to stay away from the bear claw she’s dropped on the ground. Daly’s cop character Charlie appears to be the perfect embodiment of the real man Danny ranted about way back in the show’s pilot, the kind of guy who would stalk the house naked with a baseball bat when he heard glass breaking. Charlie is able to instantly break up the sex party in Mindy’s apartment by threatening to plant drugs on the attendees, but he’s also able to forgive his daughter and even consider stopping having her tailed at college. That’s the thing about these curmudgeons; it’s when they finally show their softer side that makes them the most vulnerable, and the most attractive.
Danny has that trait as well, as he untangles Mindy from her scarf and earbuds on the subway (“You’re like a pelican in a fishing net right now”) and then remains delighted at her insistence that she will eventually be mistaken for her daughter’s younger sister in college. Even the Civil War general, a.k.a. the rabbi, can see Danny’s plain, unbridled affection for her. Yes, the relationship has been all over the place this season, but it appears that Danny had to lose Mindy to really want her back again.
Unfortunately for him and his bad timing, now he has some actual competition. Because at the end of the episode, Daly’s cop Charlie tells Mindy, “For the record, I’m not a guy. I’m a man.” Her knees buckle, and with good reason, as Daly completely nails that line. (I might have rewound that ending eight or 10 times or so.) It’s such a relief to see Daly in a formidable, impressive part, after playing that tamped-down hippie doctor Pete on Private Practice all those years; I’m already looking forward to see what next week will bring.
There are two more episodes until the end of this season, as Mindy and Danny no doubt continue to steer their way back to each other. But Tim Daly is an excellent detour.
- Danny tells Peter that the rabbi thinks he’s Jewish, and he replies, “Well, I could see that. I mean, you do complain about the air conditioning a lot.” Danny’s defense: “It’s drafty in my office!”
- Morgan grinds up Mindy’s birth control and puts it in her coffee.
- Also in the real man category: taking down a subway bully with a pink umbrella.
- This week in random comments from Mindy’s office staff: When Tim Daly walks into Shulman and Associates and sees Beverly, he says, incredulously, “Susan Robinson?” She replies, “No, I’m Beverly something.”
- “How many hours of energy did you drink?”
- The theme of Peter’s bar mitzvah was “Christmas In Connecticut.”
- You really have to give it up for a John Updike reference in primetime TV.
- “Miss, step away from the bear claw. The bear claw’s been on the street. The street is covered in urine.”