Is it possible to quit your job and move to a foreign country without missing your old life entirely? That's part of the premise behind the new season of Fox's "The Mindy Project," which followed one doctor's quest for love that took its fair share of detours along the way. The results may be somewhat routine, but the cast made the execution a little more humorous each week.
"The Mindy Project" followed Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and her quest to turn her love life into the perfect romantic comedy plot. The only problem was that she ended up choosing the wrong men to date. She even ended up quitting her job to move to Haiti with one boyfriend for six months. Mindy seemed happy with the decision after he proposed to her, until she was forced to come back to New York for a medical procedure that made her realize that she missed her old life. It also helped that a visit from former colleagues Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks) and Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz) helped to change her mind too. As a result of her visit, Mindy's wedding was put on hold when her fiance went back to Haiti without her. Much to her surprise, a new doctor named Paul Leotard (James Franco) has taken her place and he isn't willing to give up his stake in the practice just yet. He was willing to do whatever it took to beat Mindy at her own game, even if meant lying to their colleagues in the process to secure his odds. Luckily, Mindy had the support of her former rival/good friend Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) who had his own relationship troubles to deal with, but he was willing to ignore to help Mindy out. Will he help Mindy get her job back or focus on his ailing relationship instead?
In terms of questions, the biggest one was how many mistakes would Mindy make to get her job back. Kaling's character was known to spring into action without thinking about the consequences. A prime example would be in the series premiere when she attended an ex-boyfriend's wedding to only get drunk and make a huge fool out of herself in the process. The character's best response would've been to decline the invitation, but she went anyways to see if she could live without him and she could after a while. What made the show work for the most part was that everyone had good intentions, but their execution could use a little work in making things come true. The premiere had a lot of memorable scenes, but the biggest came when Kaling returned to her old stomping ground to realize that everything and everyone has moved on without her. There was a new receptionist who seemed like she wanted to be anywhere but there and even called Mindy a little boy in an effort to get rid of her. As for Franco's guest starring arc, he was funny for the most part but his over-the-top performance antics in recent years have managed to foreshadow his ability to generate laughs. He had a strong rapport with Kaling that worked when the two characters worked hard to mask their dislike for each other. Hopefully, Franco's character won't burn too many bridges because he could come back every now and again just to shake things up for Mindy. For the most part, the premiere episode seemed to work, except that the supporting cast was mostly sidelined by Franco's appearance and Mindy's return. Let's hope that future episodes will fix that sooner rather than later.
As for breakout performances, Kaling and Messina led the pack as their very different characters have managed to build a friendship that could turn into something more down the line. Kaling's Mindy was the perfect mixture of perky, spunky and silly at the same time. She wanted to believe that her life will turn into a romantic comedy, but she doesn't like it when the romance turned into a comedy of errors. Kaling's most memorable scene in the premiere came on her wedding day when she was talking to herself in the bathroom mirror. She gave herself the perfect pep talk when she realized that her fiance was going to the bathroom behind her. They scared each other to the point where Mindy's wedding dress got ruined in the process and she hid on her fire escape in the process. The scene was perfect in describing her character because things always never went according to her plans. Kaling had a great dynamic with Messina that allowed to be playful with each other whether they were insulting and supporting each other. Let's hope that the show continued to developed Kaling's connection to Messina's Danny for seasons to come because it was her strongest relationship yet. Messina, on the other hand, evolved from being the resident cynic into a strong leading man character who had a definite set of values that made him uncomfortable sharing details of his private life with the world. His most memorable scenes involved Messina's Danny being completely embarassed that his personal life was faltering around him. Messina gave Danny a sense of realistic embarassment as he was forced to see Franco's sex therapist and he couldn't believe what he was being told to do. His look of shock and discomfort made it worth watching such an uncomfortable moment. Hopefully, Messina and Kaling will continue to have their fair share of embarassing moments because that's when they excelled best.
"The Mindy Project" premieres on September 17th and airs Tuesdays at 9:30 PM on Fox. Xfinity is currently screening the premiere episode and it's also available on Fox's website until September 16th.
Verdict: Kaling has proven to being a charming leading lady, but the familiar sitcom plots could use some sprucing up a bit to keep viewers coming back for more.
TV Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)