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Dan For Mayor, “A Cleanse Getaway” (1.11)

“I’m not drunk now.” – Claire


So, last week’s episode was a stronger one than we’ve been seeing in the shows first season. Did writers Mark Farrell, Paul Mather & Kevin White and director Paul Mather keep it up? More after the jump…

This episode took both a step forward and a step back, frustratingly enough. The A plot, Jeff taking over one speech for a throatsore Dan and finding the rush of speechifying exhilerating and taking them over entirely, was one of Dan For Mayor‘s better comedic plots. The intertwined C plot, of Allan knowing his strength as a kiss-ass and offering himself up to the Dan and Vargas teams, only to screw them both over through his own stupidity, also largely worked. So, that’s 2/3.

Unfortunately the B plot was completely misconceived, and brought back a plot that was inevitable and yet I’d furiously hoped would die a silent death. Claire, after calling off the wedding, tries to bridge the gap with her horrible parents (who are not funny so much as they are infuriating), and the ensuing mess leads her back to Dan. The plot isn’t just frustrating because it’s composed of pieces that are either badly formed (Mike, with fun actor Benjamin Ayres doing his best with an awful character), not funny (Claire’s aforementioned sires), or showing an annoying side to them (Claire, when not doing campaign-involved plots, tends to be a damp squib). The core problem is where it leads, to the Dan and Claire reunion that the show has been trying to sell since the pilot – despite the fact that Dan and Claire have absolutely no chemistry and they share few scenes except when shoved into to supplement this misplaced romance plot. Their friendship is fun, but beyond that it isn’t, it hasn’t been, and I predict it won’t be.

That said, Laurie Murdoch is giving the best comic performance of the show (and has been for weeks), and the friend-chemistry between Dan (Fred Ewanuick) and Jeff (Paul Bates) is finally clicking like it should have from the beginning. The show just needs to dump Benjamin Ayres (to find a worthy character) as well as the boring Agam Darshi (whose character Brianna could have been another Kelly Kapoor in a stronger series, with a stronger actress), and use Mary Ashton (Claire) and Suzanne Coy (Anita Vargas) in ways that show their talents off properly. And, maybe, have its three writers spent a week in the writers room with the writing staff of Community, so they can begin to punch up their scripts to a higher standard.

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