Chris Messina, Mindy Kaling
Having recently been renewed for a third season, disproving TV's usual out-of-sight/out-of-mind policy, Fox's The Mindy Project emerges from a three-month hiatus with back-to-back episodes (Tuesday, 9/8c) demonstrating Mindy Kaling's devotion to screwball comedy. A concept which Amy Schumer would probably find a way to make sound really, hilariously dirty. (Her uproarious Comedy Central sketch-com Inside Amy Schumer returns at 10:30/9:30c, making this an especially happy April Fools Day.)
Mindy picks up in the immediate aftermath of the romcom cliffhanger in which Danny (Chris Messina) planted a kiss on Mindy while mid-flight, leading to slapstick mile high-jinks in a cramped airplane bathroom. Making out in inappropriate quarters becomes a running gag for these two. And not unlike New Girl's Jess-Nick hookup among roomies, this too-close-for-comfort relationship between co-workers is not without complications — starting with Danny's Catholic guilt and the fact that Mindy hasn't exactly severed all ties yet with Cliff (Glenn Howerton), who's back to pitching woo once he reads the eloquent e-mail Danny helped Mindy write. Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader (seen in the pilot as the ex whose wedding Mindy nearly ruined) appears in the second episode, when a sex tape from their past resurfaces, causing Mindy no end of panic.
Amy Schumer would most likely just advise Mindy to chill and enjoy the notoriety. Inside Amy Schumer is triumphantly raunchy as it toggles between stand-up vignettes, person-on-the-street interviews and barbed sketches with a gamy sting. Typical of the show's aren't-we-fabulously-awful approach to sexist culture is a meta spoof of an all-male focus group asked to rate Inside Amy Schumer. Their consensus: "Way less face, but more side boob." Paul Giamatti shows up as God when Amy turns to prayer during a herpes scare ("I really need to stop making so many white girls," He mutters), and Michael Ian Black scores in a mock ad for an "interracial marriage photographer." This show and its blithely, brashly irreverent star are on fire.
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[On the other hand, Comedy Central's grisly new animated pastiche TripTank, which premieres Wednesday at 10:30/9:30c, left me cold as it revels in over-the-top grotesque nihilism, like when perky Ricky the Rocketship bundles kids into his hold for a fatal ride to the moon. "Dead children are not cool!" Ricky screams. Not super funny, either. Though visually provocative, including an impressionistic nightmare odyssey with a homeless late-night host, the tone becomes grating long before a Looney Tunes parody rubs our nose in bloody roadkill.]
THE TUESDAY GUIDE: April Fools stunts: Former Drew Carey Show co-stars Drew Carey and Craig Ferguson trade places, with Ferguson hosting CBS's The Price Is Right (check tvguide.com listings) — with Geoff the robot skeleton and pantomime horse Secretariat as models — while Carey hosts The Late Late Show (12:37 am/11:37c) with his Price entourage. Guests include the comedy legend Carl Reiner. ... National Geographic Channel gets in the April Fools spirit, turning over its prime-time lineup to veterans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in a "Total Riff Off," mocking the likes of Bad@$ Animals, Unlikely Animal Friends, My Dog Ate What? and Man v. Monster. Yes, these are actual shows. ... The fat lady has sung, metaphorically, for McKinley High on Fox's Glee, which jumps several months ahead this week (8/7c), and significantly, the official cast list now includes only those who made it out of Lima to New York City: Rachel, Kurt, Artie, Santana, Blaine and Sam (with a guest appearance by Mercedes). ... Courteney Cox directs the season finale of TBS's Cougar Town (10/9c), in which Jules gets shocking news at her annual physical. ... CBS's durable NCIS (8/7c) wraps its two-part New Orleans spin-off "backdoor pilot," while the original spin-off — oxymoron alert — NCIS: LA (9/8c) sends the team to Afghanistan to rescue Kensi. ... Personally, I'm more intrigued by the notion of Reese and Shaw going undercover at a high-school reunion on CBS's Person of Interest (10/9c). ... And finally, two DVD alerts: All of the best "Oh, Rob!" moments are preserved in a special release of The Dick Van Dyke Show: Classic Mary Tyler Moore Episodes (Image Entertainment), featuring 20 of Laura Petrie's most memorable situations, including "Never Bathe on Saturday" (when she got her toe stuck in a bathtub spout) and Coast to Coast Big Mouth (when she opened up a bit too much on national TV). ... If you missed the devastating mystery series Broadchurch on BBC America last summer, you can now binge on the DVD (Entertainment One), starring the excellent David Tennant and Olivia Colman as detectives investigating an unthinkable crime in a small beachside town.
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