Thursday, October 14, 2010

Men with Brooms: Death of the Birth Tree

First, a Canadian English lesson...

A twoney is a two-dollar coin.

One advantage of an ensemble cast is the fact that within a 22-minute show, it is possible to have 2 or more relatively simple story lines going on at once. It also provides an opportunity to group characters in different configurations in order to develop one-to-one relationships.

The primary storyline in "Death of the Birth Tree" is a character-development tale for the protagonist - standard stuff for a second episode. In this week's story, Gary must come to terms with the fact that various symbols of his youth are vanishing one by one, particularly a tree in the front yard of his childhood home. This sense of loss inspires great sympathy in new love interest, April. I have to admit that I was a little worried at first that the story would follow the use-sympathy-to-gain-personal-advantage angle to the end. That's a plot straight out of Situation Comedy Writing for Dummies. The chosen path was less predictable and I like that.

The second storyline to be introduced was the "Luck Sponge" tale between Tannis and Alex. This story wasn't as well-developed as the rest of the show (more on that in a bit) but I suspect it served mostly to establish a secondary love-interest possibility for the series.

The third storyline was the most fun: "Smugglers Kablam" as played out by Pramesh and Bill. This is not unusual for sit-coms. Go back and watch Friends now that you know how Ross/Rachel and Monica/Chandler ultimately work out. You know what were the funniest stories on that show? The Phoebe and Joey stories - almost invariably.

The story between Pramesh and Bill this time is a great one - the cool guy and the nerd find common ground over a ridiculously complicated board game. My first laugh of the episode was Pramesh's complaint that the Mouse Trap game set at the club contained only a real mouse trap. I love epic board games and was admittedly a sucker for this one. I didn't clock it but I'm guessing that in the end, this third story got more air time than the "Luck Sponge" saga. No doubt, it was an editing decision after filming but I'd say a great one. I hinted at this last week: Pramesh has that certain something. If there's a second season, I'll bet he gets a more prominent role.

Rani got short shrift in this episode, playing only supporting roles in two of the stories: Matt's confidant in Luck Sponge and twist-provider for Smugglers Kablam. Seven's an awkward number for an ensemble cast, I think. Most don't go above six and there's good reason for that. Let's hope she gets a more prominent story role in the near future.

I have a complaint about this episode: no curling! Yes, the club provides the main setting but I'm looking for more. It looks like the boys will be back on the ice next week.

The Links

Episode 2: Death of the Birth Tree (viewable only in Canada)

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