Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Jenna Fischer Wears a Floral Blouse & Black Heels” Review

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A large part of reviewing television is judging an episode on its own merits while also weighing it against what’s come before it. Therefore, expectations and understanding of what a show is can both help and hurt critical evaluation. In other words, expecting something out of a show, while natural, doesn’t always lead to fair reviewing. This all comes to mind because tonight’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, “Jenna Fischer Wears a Floral Blouse & Black Heels,” seemed slight and unambitious after I first watched it. But in retrospect, the perceived slightness is mostly due to the fact that Comedy Bang! Bang! did so many elaborate, inventive episodes last season. Though “Jenna Fischer Wears a Floral Blouse & Black Heels” was a simpler, less noteworthy episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!, its straightforwardness was intentional, and so instead of criticizing it for not going for broke, I should give it props for still be a charming and funny half hour of comedy.

A large percentage of tonight’s episode dealt with a mystery at CBB studios. Though portions of the “who has done it?” were entertaining, and Jason Alexander was excellent as an over-the-top detective, this was sort of a missed opportunity. There were inspired jokes, particularly near the ending once it became completely silly and Alexander turned into Inspector Gadget, but most of the storyline was the same joke – lights going off and people getting stabbed – and instead of it getting funnier as it continued, it became stale.

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Jenna Fischer was a charming guest that seemed in tune with the show’s vibe, but the stars of this episode were Paul Brittain and Taran Killam as the Calvins twins. Listeners of the CBB podcast will know the characters from their appearance earlier this year, and though they might be disappointed that this was just a shortened version of their appearance, disappointment at a discussion of horse fighting can only go so far. Things got dark as soon as they started talking, and because Brittain and Killam are such talented performers – and Scott mostly just let them go – their interview was enormously twisted and funny. Even Fischer couldn’t help but laugh at one point.

I’d have rather had a large-scale, memorable episode from Comedy Bang! Bang! tonight, but my expectations can’t be the barometer for whether an episode is good or bad. With twenty episodes this season and forty next season, not every episode is going to be truly memorable. This was fine as it was, even if it the laughs weren’t always there. The murders might’ve gotten old, but horse punching never does.