The TV Series
Conventional wisdom says that the third season of a hit television sitcom is where everybody relaxes, settles into a groove, and has fun. Such a fate should have befallen CBS's 2 Broke Girls, but its third year - newly released on DVD from Warner Home Video - found the appealing "best friends trying to get by" formula sullied with plot detours, tweaks, and a host of unnecessary new characters. It's still funny in small doses (meaning on a week-to-week basis, not in the all-you-can-eat binge a DVD set promises), although whatever goodwill this show gained from the hilarious first season and the shrill yet amusing second season has just about vanished.
In all fairness, one can't blame the producers of 2 Broke Girls for wanting to trying out new things, since keeping a long-running show fresh in this Twitter-addled age is a top priority. At its essence, the show still centers on the dynamite chemistry of its lead actresses, along with the nutty surrogate family of supporting characters at the dingy Williamsburg, New York diner where the two women work. Kat Dennings' bodacious, sarcastic brunette city dweller Max and Beth Behrs' slim, hyperactive blonde former rich girl Caroline are still waitressing while attempting to make a success of their cupcake-making business. In season two's finale, the store was relocated to a walk-up space next to the diner after their previous location in a hipster-oriented shopping plaza proved to be a huge bust (no pun intended). The close proximity between diner and shop now allows Max and Caroline to operate the shop as a late-night venture feeding club kids and local stoners as soon as they finish their waitressing shifts every evening - real convenient, eh? The setup allows Max and Caroline to experience new adventures while smack-talking customers and series regulars Han (Matthew Moy), Olaf (Jonathan Kite), Earl (Garrett Morris) and Sophie (Jennifer Coolidge, who inexplicably gets an avalanche of audience hoots whenever she appears).
More than anything, this season of 2 Broke Girls trudges by on tired, worn-out humor (more jokes about Max's endowments and white-trashy childhood, yay!), unmemorable plots, and head-scratching tweaks to the show's format. The fourth episode introduces a new server at the diner - Luis, a sassy gay Puerto Rican played by Federico Dordei. Despite being written as yet another dumb stereotype, Luis is actually a pretty funny character - but, like everything else this season, he's another device the creators threw into the show halfheartedly, hoping it would stick. Five episodes later, as Luis fades into the background, it's suddenly, mysteriously decided that Max needs to go to a Manhattan pastry school to hone her technique (this, despite making cupcakes that impressed the mighty Martha Stewart in the first season). From here on out, most of the series focuses on Max attending pastry classes, with Caroline tagging along and improbably taking an office job at the school on the premise that she has the hots for Max's handsome (and married) instructor, Nicolas (Gilles Marini). While inexplicably wedging-in new characters and settings isn't a new 2 Broke Girls trick (remember Peach, from the first season?), these developments just came across as desperate and unnecessary. With the addition of Mary Lynn Rakjskub as Bebe, the school's ditsy administrator, and Eric André as Max's goofy classmate, Deke, it seemed as if the classroom was replacing the diner as the show's primary setting - then they go off on another tangent as a romance develops between Max and Deke (who starts off annoying, but becomes somewhat endearing as the season moves on). The relationship hits a snag when Max finds out that the hipster-slacker boyfriend who lives in a converted dumpster is really a wealthy trust fund kid - but why should we care? Apparently the people behind the scenes saw that the Max/Deke thing wasn't working out too well, since the season finale has Caroline and the gang from the diner celebrating Max's graduation with no Deke (or Nicolas, or Bebe, or Luis) in sight.
Dennings and Behr still hold enough interest for me to resist bailing out on the show, despite its shrillness and desperation. Another unfocused season like this one, however, may further alienate the dwindling number of viewers who are still tuning in (the prospect of Kim Kardashian guest starring in the upcoming season's premiere episode doesn't bode too well).
Warner Home Video's DVD edition of 2 Broke Girls: The Complete Third Season consists of the following episodes, spread over three discs:
The DVD version of 2 Broke Girls' third season sports a good, clean 16x9 picture. Shows like this tend to be overlit and brassy looking, but overall the image looks good and professional, even with several episodes stored on each disc. Like its CBS schedule-mate Mom's first season, the discs' mastering has a sharp, clean image with well-saturated color and a pleasing light/dark balance.
The discs' Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack is a good, clean mix with pristine dialogue kept in the central channel. Each episode also includes an alternate Portuguese-dubbed soundtrack, along with subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Portuguese.
On Disc Three, several unfunny Deleted Scenes (18:44) and a decent Gag Reel (7:47) are included. As with other Warner TV-on-DVD sets, a fold-out booklet with episode titles, credits and plot synopses is included as well.
In another example of retooling a hit show for no good reason, the third season of screechy sitcom 2 Broke Girls took Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) out of the diner and into pastry school. With the additions of several unnecessary new characters and a distinct lack of focus, this season had few highlights in what was a chaotic and only sporadically funny 24-episode stretch. Call it the year of And What the Hell Happened? Skip It.