‘Fresh off the Boat’ Episode Review: “Where Are the Giggles?”

Fresh Off the Boat, Season 3, Episode 8: “Where Are the Giggles?”
Original airdate December 13, 2016.

fotb_s03_e08-7Microsynopsis:  The Huangs get free passes to see Jingle All the Way at the movie theater, but in their haste to get there early enough to grab the good seats, they leave Evan behind.  Louis and Jessica call Marvin, asking him to go over and keep an eye on Evan until they get home.  When Marvin enters the house, he steps into a Home Alone trap Evan has set, injuring his back.  Marvin sues Louis’s insurance company, but his muscle relaxant sends him into strange dreams, in which he is visited by three ghosts whose aim is to convince Marvin to drop the lawsuit.  Jessica, in a fit of guilt, promises to buy Evan the year’s most in-demand toy: Tickle Me Elmo.

Good:  This episode is crammed with all kinds of badness, but there are a few highlights.

  • The three ghosts payoff is hilarious.  I won’t be specific in case readers haven’t seen the episode yet, but that third ghost makes the super-tired A Christmas Carol sitcom device completely worth it.
  • Deidre is usually super annoying, but there’s something sweet yet still dispicable about her interactions with Jessica, and when Richard steps in and saves Jessica’s day, it’s a moment of grace that’s sort of the theme of this episode.  It’s my favorite moment.
  • Am I allowed to say that Honey, who is always beautiful, is especially so this week?  ‘Cause she is.
  • Did we already know that the big stuffed bear in Cattleman’s Ranch is named Mark?  Highlight!
  • “Except for the Sinbad lines, I laughed all the way through.”
  • Marvin is seen twice reading Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club.

fotb_s03_e08-14Bad:  These reviews are always subjective — I am only qualified to respond to something from my own point of view, with my own knowledge, experiences, and biases, but this week’s is especially biased.

  • I hate Home Alone.  Hate it.  I have never liked one moment of it, and I have seen it more times than I care to admit.  I found the Home Alone stuff in this episode annoying.
  • I love A Christmas Carol, and although I’m tired of the three-ghosts motif in sitcoms, I admit it’s usually pretty interesting.  However, would these sitcoms please get the name of the third (sometimes fourth, in shows that do a Jacob Marley intro ghost thing) ghost correct?  It’s the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  “The Ghost of Christmas Future” grates on the ears and makes me shudder.
  • I hate Elmo.  Hate him.  I love the Muppets, and I love Sesame Street, but Elmo is a crime against Muppetdom.  And Tickle Me Elmo is the worst incarnation of him.  Have you seen Tickle Me Cookie Monster?  He’s adorable.  Tickle Me Elmo is one of the worst things about the Nineties.  Everything you hate about Millennials is either Elmo’s fault or represented perfectly in Elmo’s existence and popularity.
  • Jessica is made out to be the bad guy when she doesn’t slide over to let Richard and Deidre sit in the middle of the row.  This is one of my major peeves.  People who arrive late should never ask for seating rearrangement if it means moving people who get there early.  “Would you mind moving over, so my date and I can sit together?”  Listen, I sympathize.  But as someone who is often on planes, in restaurants, and in theaters by himself, I am asked to move far too frequently.  Why is my seating preference less important than yours?

fotb_s03_e08-10FOB moment:  “You don’t dream in Mandarin, do you?”

Soundtrack flashback:  There’s a brief instrumental bit, in the scene where Marvin is visited by the Ghost of Kwanzaa Present, that sounds for all the world like Vince Guaraldi playing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” in the A Charlie Brown Christmas style, but I can’t track down evidence that this exists.  Yeah, I know it’s not a difficult style to emulate; I thought maybe this was a test of some sort.  I think I failed.

Final grade, this episode: Although I like the theme of extending grace (Marvin and Louis to each other, Evan to Jessica, Richard to Jessica, and (sorta) Deidre to Jessica), there are too many plot-related things that rub me completely the wrong way.  C+.

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About Mitchell K. Dwyer

@scrivener likes movies.
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