Welcome to a new Sitcom Tuesday! Coverage of 3rd Rock From The Sun will commence soon, but in the meantime, I’m excited to set the figurative table by resurrecting another entry from this blog’s nearly decade-long run. Here’s how it works: I’ll provide a link to a piece that I first published many seasons back, and then I’ll offer a bit of updated commentary. But, as I always caution, please be gentle; this early article is from a long time ago, and my standards have changed as I’ve changed — I’ve improved as a thinker, a communicator, and a television-watcher.
So, let’s revisit… The Ten Best JUST SHOOT ME! Episodes of Season Four: https://jacksonupperco.com/2019/01/15/the-ten-best-just-shoot-me-episodes-of-season-four/
In considering how my thoughts have evolved on the 1990s sitcoms we originally discussed, I realized that there’s not been enough time for my opinions to radically change between then and now. However, there are a handful of shows that remind me of our latest batch of ’90s samples in that I find them more personally enjoyable than intellectually laudable alongside the best of what this genre has to offer. Series like Martin and even Living Single would belong in that category, and heck, I would probably put some of our forthcoming subjects in there as well. For instance, another sitcom that I enjoy more than honor is Just Shoot Me!, one of the late ’90s and early ’00s’ good-to-middling efforts — comedically solid, with a couple of fun characters, but just not exceptional relative to its contemporaries. Oh, to be fair, there are a dozen standout excursions — many of them residing in the series’ third and finest season, the year before the one I’m rerunning, Season Four. I think Four is a better reflection of how this series, which is essentially a workplace comedy with a centralized father/daughter relationship, was seemingly forced to adopt one of the most prominent trends of this era: a rom-com engine. We see that mandate in Four with Maya and Elliott, whom the show tries to position, for lack of a better comparison, as its “Ross and Rachel” — a notion that it never fully embraces, even though a greater focus on character via relationships would have always been welcome inside its otherwise more gimmicky and idea-driven storytelling. Yet by this glaringly deliberate adherence to a ’90s trope, I’m also sort of reminded of the upcoming 3rd Rock From The Sun, a very different sitcom — a high-concept fantasy — but one that exists in this particular decade and thus also indulges romantic concerns more typical of those popular “hangout” or “Singles in the City” entries. Now, that’s not to say Just Shoot Me! and 3rd Rock are alike — they’re not — but both are reflective of their shared era in similar ways, and I ultimately feel similarly about them as mostly solid middle-tier offerings that I appreciate, rather than laud as the true best of this period… Of course, there are, again, standout excursions in both, like my MVE from Just Shoot Me! Season Four, “A&E Biography: Nina Van Horn,” a hilarious break from the show’s usual narrative format that works because of its intense spotlight on a well-drawn character. It’s a gem!
Come back next week for another sitcom rerun! And stay tuned for a new Wildcard Wednesday!