October 10, 2012

Quick Thoughts: BEN AND KATE, "The Fox Hunt"

While I'm still enjoying Ben and Kate (and happy that FOX ordered additional episodes), I have to admit that "The Fox Hunt" was not the show's funniest outing, but that's OK because it definitely made up for it in other areas.

One of the toughest challenges for a show is to establish a world that feels lived in and that creates the sense that the viewer is dropping in from time to time. "The Fox Hunt" was successful at doing just that while still getting some sizable laughs out of me albeit not as many as the previous two episodes. The entire half-hour revolved around Ben and Kate competing in a childhood scavenger hunt as a way to prove something to themselves and to one another. The "game" episode is by no means a new idea, and I can't even say that the Fox Hunt was one of television's best set-ups, but again that's OK because it fleshed out the relationship between the siblings while giving us all a glimpse into their past lives. On top of that, the hunt helped push the main plot along to as we find out that Kate wants more for herself and more for Ben too. To be honest, I'll take these kind of elements over belly laughs any day of the week.

Again, that's not to say that "The Fox Hunt" wasn't funny. I cracked up when Tommy ditched his tennis lesson to tag along with Ben, and I found Lucy Punch far less annoying this time around (although I could've done without her ex-boyfriend sub-plot). But like always, the episode's MVP was Dakota Johnson because I will never get tired of her frazzled charm... at least not anytime soon. Oh, and we cannot forget those final moments where the show tugged at the heartstrings just to undercut it with Ben crying and yelling at himself in the mirror. Good stuff.

In this new age of television, comedies have to either be very formulaic or so outside the box that nobody watches them, and it's starting to become clear that Ben and Kate's fine with being caught somewhere in the middle. It's using well-worn tropes like competitive siblings, but wrapping them in an oddball blanket that I find amusing and refreshing. In my book, that's a win.


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