Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mysteries of Laura S2E15 The Mystery of the Unknown Caller and S2E16 The Mystery of the End of Watch Part 2

Yeah, instead of a quotation from the episode in question, why don't I just throw up a video of what the experience of watching The Mysteries of Laura is like:


What is it? yeah just go back to Part I and read all that, nothing's changed.

So here I go trying to watch beyond the first twelve minutes of "The Mystery of the Unknown Caller." I thought I had stumbled upon a winning formula to actually get through this....

It still doesn't work!!!!!

Immediately the episode continues to dive into a poorly written cliche storm. Now that I've had a few days to sit on it, a lot of the writing, cliches and tropes would fit right at home on Disney Channel after all. The whole "oh I'm not totally bringing up this completely random yet specific subject up for a reason" switcheroo. The stock, one-note characters. The freakin' guest star, literally, the freakin' guest star. And it gets worse.

So Laura goes visits her dad or something and there's some cliche dialogue exchange here and there involving Laura trying to find Lily and Laura extorts the info from her dad with blackmail revolving around porn.



It leads to a phone call with one of Lily's supposed associates where Laura poses as a...uhhh...what's the word I should use with the consideration of what this blog is? A paramour? An escort? ...a random fuck buddy? Who might also be a pedophile? Anyway Laura gets there and pedo-guy-maybe is surprised that, yeah, Debby Messing is like hella old. And then Lily shows up and Laura chases her up an escalator where Lily doesn't realize that going backwards doesn't help and Debby (Ryan) just quite frankly embarrasses herself. And then Laura says some faux-witty one-liner that isn't worth repeating and Debby (Ryan) just has a look on her face that says it all - you know, over a year ago I was pretty much the Queen of Disney Channel. What happened?



...and I'm not going to lie, that's where I stopped watching, because it was pretty clear it was going to be pretty bad and I didn't want to write another ultra-long review going over every cliche and still have another episode to follow up with that. So I fast-forwarded all the way to the end where it turns out Lily's boyfriend was tied up with some drug kingpins and it leads to a really big bust in an airport hangar and I'm sorry even just reliving it is pretty ridiculous. This is what happens when someone realizes that they kind of have this semi-quirky "character" procedural drama that fails at even the "semi" part and then decide to have a Miami Vice-style big bust at the end. Oh and Jessie Lily will be sticking around being Jessie Laura's new semi-live in babysitter.

Ugh.

The Mysteries of Laura really is a very, very bad Rizzoli and Isles rip-off and even that show isn't exactly the greatest or most gripping procedural in the history of television - or even during just this television season, for that matter. Even just on broadcast, there's Chicago PD, SVU, and if you want drama without the procedural The Blacklist is way better. And every single one of those shows is also on NBC! Or hook up USA Network OnDemand and watch the best drama this side of AMC, Suits. Or for that matter Mad Men. Or freaking Shondaland playing right opposite of Mysteries of Laura. If you just demand having "quirky character"-focused procedurals for whatever dumb reason then there's a whole slew of shows that are so much more superior in every criteria imaginable, whether it's the "quirky character" part, having an actually compelling mystery or from a pure dumb entertainment standpoint - the aforementioned Castle on ABC, CBS's Elementary and Limitless, the aforementioned Rizzoli and Isles, or just throw up a few episodes of Monk from the Netflix archives. I mean...in this day and age with every other TV expert talking about "Peak TV" there's no reason to subject yourself to mediocrity. That goes for you the viewer/the five of you who are reading this, and that goes for you, Debbys.

Well we're done with the 16 minutes of  The Mystery of the Unknown Caller that I'm willing to tolerate, let's move on to The Mystery of the End of Watch.

If you're familiar with the last summer season sleeper hit of, what was it, two or three years ago or whatever?, or with procedurals in general, you'll know the term "End of Watch" refers to when a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. So yeah, spoiler alert, though I don't know what good it will do you since the spoiler is in the episode title itself. At the very end of the last episode while they were doing their big celebration press conference on the drug bust, Laura's boss ended up taking a bullet from an unseen assassin, sad face.


This has nothing to do with the episode, except that since I brought up the word "assassin" I just wanted to be reminded of something I'd rather be doing instead right now.

It turns out she has a kid who looks like he could be a young Josh Peck if all you're familiar with Josh Peck is Grandfathered (that's another show we'll have to look at). And then we have more cop cliches like the grieving cop who grieves silently and "just needs to process it in his own way." I have an odd feeling this episode's going to spend a decent amount of time spinning its wheels and devoting itself to filler much like the last one. 



Meanwhile Josh Lucas-I-guess invites his current girlfriend over who's freaking out over the captain's death and they find their mutual grieving to be...arousing?

In the meantime of the meantime, more cop tropes you've seen in literally every other cop show ever. In the process they found out Laura was the real target, because her name is in the show's title. Laura instantly thinks it's the crime boss she just took down, and they flashback to him being dragged off in cuffs shouting you'll be dead! Dead! in a way exactly as you'd expect in a Simpsons episode.



Of course he can always plead the "it's really German!" defense.

Laura wants to haul Mr. Bad Boss out of his cell for interrogation, only to find that he switched identities with another con scheduled for release that day, because the writers need to figure out a way to make sure this guy remains a threat and it's not like people in jail are threatening at all.



Oh, and we finally cue the intro credits.

It turns out the guy switched with him because he's straight up scared for his life, which I guess nowadays qualifies as a twist because usually it's oh I gotta pay off my student debts this and I wanna make it to my daughter's birthday that. It's actually refreshing to see someone for a change just say dude I'm afraid this mofo's gonna cut me up

Oh, and yes they actually did use the word "mofo" in this, because on NBC Quentin Tarantino circa 1995 is still fresh.

Anyway he has legit reason to be afraid, because this same crime boss mofo actually did cut up his own now ex-living ex-fiancee, and their kid is now a central lead in finding him before he continues going after Laura. Laura's especially afraid that he might go after Lily next, so of course I'm hoping she'll fail and Debby (Ryan) gets to move on to singing full-time. Or maybe Josh Lucas so they can find another cardboard cutout from the studio lot to replace him. 

As soon as they find out the location of the baby this leads to a scene where all of the important characters who more or less show up in every episode in full battle gear pointing their guns at a nurse holding a baby asking where Crime Boss Mofo is. This scene is played straight without a hint of irony or quirkiness. Fortunately Mr. Crime Boss is less a badass motherfucker and more a dumbass stupid-fuck who is over in the next room and easily taken down trying to climb a fence because he should've spent more time in jail actually hitting the exercise yard than concocting half-assed escape plans that somehow still work. 

Now we get to our standard interrogation scene, and if I went ahead and fast-forwarded some hot Debby on Debby action in the last episode you betcha I'm gonna fast forward through this.


This oft-promoted still image is the best I can tolerate.

Blah blah blah don't care don't care and my fast forward button lands on the captain's wake. And wait...Laura's last name is Diamond?



At the wake they discover the captain's son had been kidnapped. And then we get to something finally worth watching - a commercial for Universal Orlando Park (in Orlando, Florida!)

They start looking into the captain's ex who of course like everybody else who isn't a main character is a cliched scumbag and stalker, and because I guess the whole drug syndicate thing they insisted carry over into this episode stopped being a thing now.



They start thinking that captain's ex was the real killer all along and the timing of the drug bust was just coincidental, proving that the tie-in from the previous episode is a giant bait-and-switch.







They deduce that in order to stage such an elaborate hit he needs money, which leads to both the revelation that he needed a loan and a joke about how great minds think alike because three people shouted it out at the same time in the space of all the two seconds needed to figure out, hey, there's these things called loans that exist. 

Oh fucking goddamnit they're doing another one of these cliched scumbag profiles like they did when they "introduced" Lily.


At this rate I'm going to have seen all of 16 minutes of the entire episode when I get done with it...again.

At this point I'm skipping straight to the next commercial break and well what do you know....


They did get Miranda Cosgrove onto this network after all! NBC: where teen starlets go to have their careers die.

The show is called Crowded and it's about some empty nesters who have all their children come back to live with them, because if there's one thing rapidly aging Boomer-generation television execs love, it's finding ways to remind themselves that they're still better than Millennials.

Yeah. Sigh. ...we'll probably cover that one too. Just a heads up, I already covered how equally unspeakably bad Undateable is and I saw the episode of Grandfathered where Drake Bell shows up and...while I want to say overall it kind of sucked, there were some legitimate good ideas in it, plus it's hard to beat the duo of Bell-Peck (there's a reason why Drake & Josh is probably the greatest live-action show in Nickelodeon's history). But again, we'll get to that one later (maybe by the end of the week if it's still OnDemand?)


After the break, Laura actually gets home and we see more Lily again, adjusting to life in her new role, which is exactly the same as her old role. 


Trial version because I am a cheap bastard

It is LITERALLY JESSIE!!!

Oh oh oh oh ooo~ooh, Hey Lucy! Hey Lucy!

It feels like your sister investigating crimes ever~y day! Hey Lucy! Hey Lucy!

Also I just noticed I kept calling her "Lily" throughout this review. I'm too lazy to correct it.

Anyway, Lucy says something that inspires Laura on how to find the missing kid, in the meantime Josh Lucas does relationship stuff I don't care about, namely proposing to his girlfriend who isn't Laura. I got that much while fast-forwarding. Pretty sure I'm accurate.

Meanwhile Laura decides that there may be clues in the captain's old files, and take a guess that she used the same password the department originally gave to her - yup, the "impossible to remember" (actual show quote) randomly generated ones that you get at school or work or whatever. I guess this is a lighthearted quirky joke. It turns out there's a kid-finder app that the captain was using and with any luck this episode should be wrapped up and I can go back to watching What's My Car Worth? on Velocity.

...oh wait it's only the halfway mark of the episode? Damn.

Anyway they find the scumbag dad and take him down and find the son which kind of brings to question yeah what's going to happen for the rest of the episode. Oh wait, WHAT A TWEEEST the kid wasn't kidnapped, he came voluntarily. Ok.

Yeah the dad was trying to protect his son because he was spooked out. The cops are a bit perplexed why he would be spooked out, I mean nothing big happened other than his ex-wife getting assassinated on local television. Anyway they put him through a polygraph and of course Laura knows he's telling the truth despite the polygraph saying otherwise because this show has to throw out a TWEEST!!! literally. Every. Damn. Minute. 

Yeah when you start doing that the TWEEST!!! starts to lose its effect.

It turns out the ex is involved in yet another massive-scale criminal smuggling ring. Does everything have to involve Laura taking down huge crime syndicates? Well in this case it makes sense since it turns out to be the same one from the previous episode (uh I think) and they killed the captain not only to knock off a big wig involved in taking them down but they can also use her ex to pay them the life insurance money.


This naturally leads up to a sing operation and big action scene where the vestiges of the syndicate are taken down.


 

Of course they catch the bad guys and Laura says something that's supposed to be a witty one-liner. They wrap things up with the ex and his son and there's a scene where they honor their fallen captain. I have to assumed it's emotional because I just fast-forwarded through it. 

Laura goes home and Lucy's back and it's raining which is why you know it's emotional. And aww the Debbys hug. Oh and Laura found out about Josh Lucas proposing to the new girlfriend and this elicits Debby (Ryan) who up to this point was actually doing some pretty good acting to shout what the hell! in a manner that just makes it all too clear she spent waaaaaaay too much time on a network where the worst word she could say was "heck."

Oh, and she also says "seize the moment by the balls."


Just watch through the title card to get why I posted this here.

So Laura gets out and races to try to meet Josh Lucas before he makes his proposal and it naturally ends on an awkward quirky cliffhanger. Season finale yo! (In February. Rarely a good sign).

The Mystery of the Unknown Caller

Episode Grade: A gigantic big fat solid F minus Congratulations NBC you put out an episode that was worse than the Minority Report pilot.I at least managed to actually watch through all that, somehow. Even if say for example you are such a major, huge fan of Debby Ryan that you would almost literally watch anything with her in it...

...oh, wait.

Yeah. Let me stand as living proof that there is almost nothing redeeming in this episode. At all. I'm not even going to bother to conjecture on Christian and Sean going through with this if they didn't even like Debby on Jessie. She's been in the episode for maybe like 10 minutes of run time total. I don't blame Mike for completely sitting this one out.
Episode MVP: A tie between Mike from CAR*BROS (see top video) and Roman from Regular Car Reviews (see video right above).

The Mystery of the End of Watch

Episode Grade: D-, probably because I'm feeling generous. Debby (Ryan) was in this episode for even less, slightly under four minutes of run-time, but then again it's not her show. Then again, ummm...what is she doing here, exactly? Seriously.The plot wasn't necessarily any better or worse than the first episode, nor was the writing or the (rather poor for the most part) the acting. Given all the other entertainment options out there (watching the other shows I named, watching Regular Car Reviews on YouTube, tweeting about your Disney Channel blog, writing your Disney Channel blog) there's simply no reason why to watch this show. If you somehow manage to be an even bigger Debby Ryan superfan than I you're better off either DVR'ing whatever reruns of Jessie Disney Channel bothers to throw up anymore or just GIS Debby and stare at that. Given the low ratings (even for NBC) and "bubble" status of Mysteries of Laura that might be a moot point next season - I'm just glad it's the end so I don't have to worry about it until fall, if not forever.

I kind of feel a little bit what it was like for Christian and Sean to track down all the episodes of other shows with Row and Sabs in it, even though I legitimately like those other shows. I hate to think if they need to do the same thing I just did and track down a legitimate crappy paint-by-numbers droll-ama like this bereft of any actual tension or suspense just because it had Row or Sabs in it.



One time I did that back when I was really into Sarah Hyland and she was in SVU. See NBC that's how you do one of these shows. You still have SVU you know how to friggin' do this.

Episode MVP: Debby Messing because she legitimately has acting chops. Or Debby Ryan because she actually displayed some decent acting here too (very honestly much better than nearly everyone else. She earned that "and" credit, for multiple reasons, not the least of which just agreeing to be on it). Or Debby Ryan because reasons of waifuism


...so, Mike, care to join me for Grandfathered, Undateable and Crowded? Maybe throw in some Dads with Brenda Song too? Maybe dig up an old episode of Young & Hungry while we're at it?


2 comments:

  1. My point on both this and stuff like Undateable being just meh with the actors actually doing okay still stands, so i have nothing to add.

    Except you should be glad you (hopefully) didn't sit through Getaway because of Selena being in it. Now that's a bad one.

    ReplyDelete

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