Review of Episode 3 after the jump. You can also check out reviews of Episode 1 and Episode 2.
First thing's first – BET is foolish for not pre-empting all of its programming to air the State of the Union. The speech was boring as shit, but BET should have aired it. #FAIL.
This week's episode of The Game was built around two fights – the ongoing one between Malik and his best friend/former assistant Tee Tee and the one between Melanie and Jazz, Juvon's wife (played by Tae Heckard). And how the show handled both of these storylines exemplifies the best of The Game as we have known it and the worst of what is really endemic to this particular season.
So far, it's hard to really know how to respond to Malik Wright this season since there is no throughline in the three episodes of this season so far for Malik's character. In the premiere, we are led to believe that the Sabers are treating Malik terribly and that's why he is being an asshole. In the second episode, Malik's story is not advanced and he's basically the Malik from the CW version. And in this third episode, Malik the Asshole is back and we are led to believe that the fight between Tee Tee and Malik signals that the change in their relationship is the root of Malik's anger and general asshole-ish behavior, not the Sabers' treatment.
The problem of course is that the dramatic writing for this storyline is sorely lacking, which is truly unfortunate because Hosea Chancez is goin for it. But the show has yet to give us a real glimpse of the other side of Malik's anger, to ground the character's behavior in a real emotional place. There is no vulnerability in Malik Wright, nothing that helps us to understand what is going on. The scene where Malik calls Tee Tee is supposed to be that moment of vulnerability, but as good as Chanchez is in the scene, it comes a bit too late I think. Had that scene come before the big blowout between the two men, both scenes might have had more weight.
It also doesn't help that Barry Floyd (who plays Tee Tee) is a terrible actor. He simply didn't deliver in the big scene with Chanchez and the directing – a close-up of Floyd's unexpressive face and a really pointless tracking shot of Floyd's exit were terrible directing choices – only made him look worse.
The fight between Melanie and Jazz though captures The Game at its best because it is the kind of story that the show has used in the past to reveal something essential to understanding who the characters are. In this case, we are reminded that Melanie is a snob who truly believes she's better than everyone.
At this point, it is frustrating that Melanie is so oblivious that she doesn't see any similarities between her and the other Sunbeams. Melanie is living off of Derwin, having decided not to practice medicine (for reasons that the show really has to start to explore and probably should have hinted at in this episode) and so she's, at least in effect, the same as Jazz. Jazz makes that point nicely to Melanie (as does Tasha).
Tia Mowry Hardrict does a great job of keeping Melanie from being totally insufferable. Her inate likeability and her commitment to Melanie's unattractive qualities is a key reason that character works. Though, as the new Sunbeam President, she is strangely channeling Brittany Daniel in that first scene with the Sunbeams.
Overall, this was not as strong an episode as last week's. The smaller budget has created challenges that at this point I don't think will be shaken out in this season. The writers are having real difficulty writing to Mara Brock Akil's desire for more drama and writing around the challenge of the recurring status of Brittany Daniel and Coby Bell. Their absence in this episode was not just noticeable, it was glaringly apparent. The show has to handle their absences more smoothly. Just ignoring the existence of Kelly and Jason Pitts in episodes that the two actors are not appearing is not gon' cut it. Their characters are so central to the show's identity that they must be acknowledged in some way otherwise the show will just feel unbalanced from episode to episode. Hopefully BET will give the show a slightly bigger budget for the fifth season and shoot during Bell's hiatus from Burn Notice (not doing those two things would be a monumental mistake.).
Couple of other thoughts:
- It was nice to see Bumper Robinson as Juvon and familiar faces among the Sunbeams. It's a small bit of continuity, but given what I said above it matters.
- It was nice that Malik and Tasha actually had a scene together.
- The "Malik needs an assistant" story didn't really work (mostly because the actress playing the assistant was just terrible), but Tee Tee's "dyslexic chimp" joke was the episode's funniest line. Floyd's deadpan delivery clearly works so much better for comedy than it does for drama.
I’m loving your reviews! I hope you keep writing them.
I cringed doing the scene when Barry Floyd aka “TeeTee” was apologizing to Malik. His acting was awful! It’s obvious he’s not a dramatic actor. I only need funny one-liners from “TeeTee”.
I really hate how they are doing Malik. Also can we get some understanding as to why Malik is so anger? Finally a scene with him and Tasha but it was so short.
The episode felt empty without “Jason” and “Kelly”. I can’t see the show being “The Game” without them. They brought the funny. Coby Bell might be the best actor on the show.
The way Tasha read Melanie…now that’s The Game I know and love!
I was hoping they would bring back Bumper Robinson. I love his character even though it’s small. Now if only they could bring back Rick Fox. I know he’s not THAT busy. lol
The episodes don’t seem to flow like the original. In the first episode, we met Tasha’s young thang. In the last 2 episodes there have been no mention of him. There wasn’t even a mention of what Derwin and Melanie are going through because of the false DNA results. This episode felt like last week didn’t happen. And where’s the owner’s wife?
I really enjoy your blog. You say everything that I am thinking when watching these episodes. I must say that it has been truly disappointing. There are just so many loopholes in the storyline. Things from the previous season seem to not even be addressed this season. I would hate to see the show not make it to another season. I wonder if Akil has been listening to what fans have to say? I assume all the episodes for the season has been shot already.
Thank you. I do intend to keep reviewing the episodes this seasons.
I think you are dead-on here, the show feels incredibly disjointed. But I just don’t think the show will overcome this in this season given the budgetary situation.
Thank you. Yes the entire season has been shot so unless they watched the first three or four episodes and made adjustments later in the production, it is highly unlikely that some of these problems will be adjusted.
Though I suppose it is possible that they could just get back into their groove by episode 6 or 7, but I highly doubt that will happen. The loss of Coby Bell and Brittany Daniel is truly unfortunate.
I do think they’ll get a fifth season. The ratings for The Game on BET are not just good, they are fantastic. Record breaking. The network would be foolish not to keep reap the ad revenue that comes from being the most watched comedy on cable.
My opinion….this was the worst episode of The Game to date. All of your analysis are great, no doubt. But, for sheer entertainment value, it was a very boring episode from start to finish. Nothing of value was presented in any scene, to me anyways. The comedy that I remember from the past 3 seasons is almost null and void this time around. There’s nothing “meaty”/memorable about these episodes. Just spurts of drama and “flashes in the pan” of “good stuff”. Story-lines and acting from certain characters are mediocre at best. Especially Tee-Tee. He was one of my fave characters in season 3. Now, he’s just not funny. I like FUNNY!! This show needs to get MORE FUNNY!! I actually said to myself after the show was over, “That’s it?”. Many plots are getting predictable. You knew Malik’s downward spiral would end him up in jail or something bad eventually. No Jason or Kelly last night. Fail. If ANY comedic relief was needed last night, it would’ve come from them, at least. If this season continues like this…I honestly believe it will be off-air again and for good. I sure hope not.
not all episodes have been shot, just the first 13 of season 4 🙂
in a radio interview with Tia Mowry and Pooch Hall they did mention that they were contracted for 2 seasons, you can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhkcP_od9M8
I liked the episode last night, there were some parts that were actually funny, so that’s good, i could actually hear the laugh track. I found myself really trying to like the episodes, but in all honesty I’m not feeling season 4 right now at all! Everything just speaks cheap to me, including the story lines, i don’t like it, it’s too dark. I noticed some comments about it being more “real”, it’s not like it wasn’t real before, it was very light,fun, funny,dramatic and entertaining, and it all blended equally and very well, now it’s too dark, dramatic, cheesy, cheap, not fun at all. ugh! I’m hoping they get a bigger budget for season 5 and bring The Game back because right now it’s in haitus :'(
I meant all of this season is shot. They only ordered 13 episodes this season, so they have all been shot.
I agree with this largely, but I still think the premiere is the worst of the three.