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Portlandia 2.02 "One Moore Episode"

A tv review article by: Dylan Garsee, Nick Hanover

As allergy season goes into full swing, Portlandia shows off an allergy parade that yields some fatal results. Meanwhile, Fred and Carrie, as Doug and Claire, decide to watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica before heading off to a friend's birthday party. Several days later they've lost their jobs, suffer bladder infections and are thrown into a quest to track down Ronald D. Moore in order to get him to write "One More Episode." Elsewhere, Carrie has started dating a man with an unfortunate tattoo.

Dylan Garsee:  LET'S PUT A REVIEW ON IT!

Nick Hanover:  Last week, when we discussed Portlandia's season premier, we were both disappointed with the lack of cohesion and how the overarching plot of that episode bogged it down. So it's good to see that Portlandia immediately corrected that with this second episode, which had a strong and hilarious overarching plot and some of the best sketches in the show's brief history, odd fire pit sketch notwithstanding.

Dylan:  Everything about this episode was great, most likely because it felt the most subdued. Every one of the sketches seemed like they could happen in real life with very little changing. Even though I said last week that Portlandia would do better if it followed the UCB formula, I now think that the show would be great if it continued to do these types of sketches that explore the strangeness of everyday life. The knot store sketch with Jeff Goldblum was probably my favorite of the night (besides the main BSG plot) because it felt so real. I could see something as crazy as a knot store existing in Austin-- or anywhere for that matter-- as opposed to the feminist book store owners from previous episodes, who were too detached to be funny.

Nick: I've never lived in Portland, but I've spent a lot of time there and have a ton of friends living in the city and I can tell you that Fred and Carrie aren't having to make too much of a leap of imagination for these ideas. It's to the point where I had to actually check to make sure there wasn't a real life knot store in Portland. I actually think the opening Allergy Parade sketch was better though, because it nicely displayed Portland's love of weird parades with the friendly neuroticism that sums up a lot of PNW life and had some great visual touches, like the man on stilts who represented the physical reaction a peanut allergy.

Dylan: I liked the cold open with the parade, I just felt it went on just a tad too long, maybe cut out a float or too. Although that stilt guy was hilarious, as well as the animatronic but not really Pad Thai allergy float.

Nick: This is one instance where I genuinely feel its length was as important to the sketch's point as the actual comedy. It's a parade, of course it's going to go on too long, that's what parades do.

Dylan: Speaking of going on too long, but in a good way, when the couple first starts watching Battlestar Galactica, the little "45 minutes later" "8 hours later" "3 Days Later" just made me giggle, because that's such a cartoon mainstay, and seeing that technique in a live action sketch brought some subtle silliness.

Nick: That BSG sketch in general just nailed it, which is all the more impressive given how easily that sketch could have been alienating and claustrophobic. A large part of its success came down to the chemistry between Fred and Carrie, who are turning into an impressively realized duo. Even throwaway lines like Carrie's "I love you, babe" before they popped in the first season disc added a nice emotional depth that paid off once they started heading down the full-on addict route, with surreal line deliveries ("Well, I just lost my job!") and twitchy behavior. But I think the true MVPs here were "Ronald D. Moore" and his wife, the latter of whom easily had the best line of the entire show with "Ron, get these white people out of my closet."

Dylan: I loved that they even used the musical cues from BSG, the tinkling piano and the brooding Cylon march, that sketch was just all around fantastic.

It also hit a little too close to home, because that's how I watch tv series. I did the same thing with Veronica Mars and Breaking Bad and The Wire and Homeland and American Horror Story and Twin Peaks and Six Feet Under and Carnivale and Mad Men ohgodIneedtogetoutmore.

Nick: I'll stage an intervention if you start stalking people who aren't actually the writers of the show but share their name.

Dylan: DAVID SIMON, MAKE ANOTHER EPISODE OF THE WIRE! TREME SUCKS!

Nick: I think what I loved about this sketch the most, though, was how into it "Ronald D. Moore" got. At first, when Fred and Carrie show up on his lawn, he seems confused. But when they explain themselves, you can see that split second realization on his face that he can totally have some fun with these people. The enthusiasm of Fred and Carrie wound up like a black hole in this instance, sucking everything into their little pocket of anti-matter. Which is how we wound up with the actual James Callis and Edward James Olmos popping up for a script reading, flanked by Ronald D. Moore himself in a cameo as a local theatre guy last seen playing the Mad Hatter, who has conveniently never even seen an episode of BSG but has been cast as Starbuck.

Dylan: The whole casting of the reading was hilarious, not only because they got James Callis, Edward James Olmos (or for those who watch Happy Endings, Eddy Jimmy) to quasi-reprise their roles, but the fact that they couldn't get Katee Sackhoff makes you wonder both what made her so busy that she couldn't be reached in the fictional universe that the show takes place in and also what the hell did Fred and Carrie do to get Callis and Olmos on such short notice?

Nick: I loved how fucking grumpy Olmos was, like some kids just woke grandpa up from a nap and forced him to "pretend" with them. Meanwhile, Callis is running with it and trying to get Olmos to play along. Olmos maybe got the best visual gag of the entire episode though, when the gang all gathered around to watch Doctor Who after Callis suggested it. Cut to 45 minutes later and Eddy Jimmy is passed out on Mrs. Ronald D. Moore's shoulder.

Dylan: Everyone was such a trooper this week. Edward James Olmos is probably now neck and neck with Aimee Mann as Portlandia's greatest guest star.  

Nick:  "I've never even been to outer space! Not once!"

Nick: Eddie Vedder fared surprisingly well in his guest appearance too, in the other big sketch that we haven't gotten around to talking about yet. Already moving on from Andy Samberg's rockstar bartender, Carrie was dating an otherwise good guy who happened to have an ugly Eddie Vedder tattoo that she couldn't keep her mind off. The premise was pretty ordinary and rote but Carrie really sold this sketch, which offered her a much better spotlight than last week. I especially liked her interactions with the Eddie Vedder tattoo, which started talking to her one night in a voice that was so not like Eddie Vedder's that it was brilliant.

Dylan: The tattoo's voice coincidentally sounds like how I pictured Vedder's speaking voice, like a reverse Billy Corgan.

Ignore that last metaphor, it doesn't make any sense.

Nick: Is reverse Billy Corgan the force we have to call on when the real Billy Corgan rises to the level of ultimate power and threatens the very fabric of reality?

Dylan: Reverse Billy Corgan comes to Earth from the fifth dimension, only to mess with Scott Weiland, and Billy won't leave him alone until Scott says his name backwards.

Nick: The punchline of the sketch, where Carried decides to just date Vedder, only for him to reveal that he has a terrible Ani DiFranco tattoo, was excellent but I still don't know what to think of the Looney Tunes close-out.

Dylan: Yeah, that was kind of stupid. I would have like to have seen Carrie then go on a date with Ani DiFranco, only to reveal she has a tattoo of Shawn Colvin, thus sucking Carrie into an endless loop of dating alt-rockers.

Nick: Would Courtney Love then appear and reveal that her body is covered in tattoos of alt-rockers she has decapitated and claimed the life energies of?

Dylan: Too soon.

Nick: It's never too soon for a Courtney Love joke.

Dylan:  I want to put Courtney Love and D'Arcy in a room together, and see who survives.

Or would the Earth just collapse from too much blonde crazy in one room?

Nick: It depends. Does that room already have a supply of drugs? Or will they be forced to find those on their own?

So, how many Eddie Vedder tattoos are we giving this episode?

Dylan: I'd say 4 Eddie Vedder tattoos. Or two Nelson tramp stamps. They're equivalent scores. How about you?

Nick: I agree with that, and hopefully Portlandia can keep up this progression.

 


Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights a pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.


When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.

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