Jack Nicholson, ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and the return of Carrie Mathison

Comedy and drama on the small screen.

‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ (photo credit: PR)
‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’
(photo credit: PR)
The great movies continue on HOT Drama with James L. Brooks’s As Good As It Gets on August 26 at 10 p.m. James L. Brooks has not made many memorable films in recent years, unfortunately, but he is best known for three amazing dramedies from the 1980s and ‘90s — Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets.
Television fans may also known him as the man who co-created several of the best comedy series ever — The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi and The Simpsons.
Everyone has heard of The Simpsons, of course, but for those of you too young to recognize these first two series, go to YouTube, where you can see clips and sometimes complete episodes of these shows. Taxi in particular is as fresh now as it was when it first came out. If you want to introduce your kids to the show, look up the clip where Reverend Jim takes his driving test, and you will create 21st-century fans of the one of the 20th century’s funniest television shows.
As Good As It Gets won Best Actress and Best Actor for its stars, Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson, and ought to have won Best Picture, but it came out in 1997 and was swamped by the Titanic tsunami.
Nicholson plays a reclusive, angry and very nasty writer who suffers from severe OCD, and Hunt is the only waitress tough enough to deal with him at the only diner where he will eat. The two gradually bond, and he begins to feel more connection to the outside world, including to his gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear), who has recently been seriously injured.
In its depiction of the Nicholson’s character’s mental illness, the movie is ahead of its time, and it features many great lines and some moving moments.
Although many recent series have been disappointments, the musical comedy show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on YES Drama at 9:15 p.m. on Saturday nights is getting better all the time. You can catch up with episodes you missed on YES VOD.
I initially avoided it because it sounded so formulaic: Rebecca, a young New York woman, a Harvard-educated lawyer, moves to a small town in California to essentially stalk the sweet boyfriend from summer camp she hasn’t seen in years after they run into each other one day by chance.
But while the premise might not sound very promising, the series is flawlessly executed, with incredibly gifted and appealing comic actors in all the leading roles.
Rachel Bloom, who plays the title role, is one of the show’s co-creators. She is a stand-up/improv comic who also creates music videos she posts online. She was the surprise winner of the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical this year — a particularly apt award because this series is both. All the genres and categories are getting blurred these days, and there have been a number of series that combine music as a key element of the plot: Glee, Empire, Nashville, Smash and others. But what’s fun about the musical numbers on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is that they are completely unrealistic fantasies, where the characters act out their inner thoughts.
The real engine that drives the plot is that fact that we can all see that while Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III), the object of Rebecca’s affections, is a nice enough guy, Greg (Santino Fontana), the witty, sardonic coffee bar guy with low self-esteem and great charm, is a far better match for Rebecca, even though she can’t. They sing some wonderfully funny songs together, especially a Rogers-and-Astaire type black-and-white tap number called “Settle for Me.”
There are also some fun supporting characters, including a yoga instructor who is Rebecca’s nemesis. If you enjoy the show, you’ll be happy to hear it’s been renewed for a second season.For those who miss Homeland, there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that a date for Season Six has been set, but the bad news is that it isn’t until January 2017. The new season, which sounds quite topical, will be set in the US just after a presidential election.