The Mindy Project: Season 2
Universal // Unrated // $29.98 // August 19, 2014
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted September 17, 2014
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Highly Recommended
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Mindy Project Season 2 DVD Review

The Mindy Project is a hit show on the Fox network that stars, is created by, is produced, is showrunned, and is written-by Mindy Kaling. The show follows Mindy, a OB/GYN doctor working in New York and searching for love. It's a modern romantic comedy series, and a program that's actually equally funny and charming. The Mindy Project is one of the best television series on air at the moment; one of the most originals gem within the current landscape.

Loved The Office? The Mindy Project is a hilarious, smart, and critically acclaimed series from writer/creator/star Mindy Kaling (who was one of the head-writers of The Office). The series is certainly something uniquely its own, but it's also clearly something that came from the mind that brought viewers a lot of the best episodes of The Office, which was one of the best of all sitcoms ever made, and it averaged at its peak about 8-9 million viewers a season. The Mindy Project averages about 2.7 million viewers so it's clear a number of Office fans are currently missing out on a great television show. As I said, did you watch The Office? Check out The Mindy Project. It's amazing. (That might sound like a long shout-out to get fans of The Office watching the show -- it is -- but that's because I'm sure a lot of those viewers would love this series if they gave it a chance.)

The basic story idea of the show takes place around the central character Mindy (Mindy Kaling), who works as a highly successful OB/GYN doctor living in New York. The premise establishes this and the show sometimes focuses on the ongoing obstacles she faces with patients in comedic ways. However, for the most part, that's just the setting established for the comedy to happen and the rest of the story is about Mindy's search for love in New York and the adventures (or bizarre misadventures) of her fellow goofball co-workers.  The show isn't about her work as a doctor to the same degree as it is a show that is meant to entertain, make people laugh, smile, and have a good time. (For those viewers out there who apparently keep asking about the show focusing more on serious topics: don't expect so many serious sub-plots from a sit-com, it's a comedy series, not a health show).

Season 2 shakes things up a bit from the first season. Mindy continues to have a lot of different relationships over the course of the episodes as she struggles to find the 'right guy' for them to mesh together, and her friends at work continue to act as skeptics. Yet the season finally does excel the romantic tension that exists between Mindy and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), which takes on surprising turn of events during the season. The two characters have a great chemistry together and the previous season's lingering suggestion that the two had feelings towards each other that go beyond being best friends has been replaced with a sub-plot that extends to the season finale about the course of the friendship and the looming question of whether or not they could become a couple. This is the main overarching storyline explored season two and it helps the show continue to groove as a quality production - instead of this subplot simply being dragged out for too many seasons.  

As to some of the differences in season two as far as the focus goes: Betsy Punch (Zoe Jarman), the sweet, mild mannered receptionist has had a reduced role on the series and now only has a occasional line or two. Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz) continues to have a pretty big part, however, the role has been slightly reduced to make room for a big new goofy personality: joining the cast this season with a huge part is Peter Prentice (Adam Pally), a new doctor working alongside them, who has some of the most high-energy of any of the characters.

Throughout the episodes Peter becomes a close friend to Mindy and offers his aid during numerous key moments (including a uncomfortable invite from one of Mindy's exes to his wedding reception). This character arguably has the third biggest role on the show now after Mindy and Danny. The good news is that the actor fully embraces the role and makes this an entertaining character from start to finish. Gwen Grandy (Anna Camp, who many may know from Pitch Perfect) has left the show in her role as one of Mindy's closest friends. This might have been the most surprising moves for this season, but the cast and writers have done a great job continuing the storylines even with some cast shake-ups.

As with season one, there is also a huge assortment of guest actors with the series, including the recurring characters played by filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass, Bill Hader, Chloe Sevigny, Timothy Olyphant, and James Franco (in another bizarre role to add to his resume). Not to mention some performers from The Office who peak in here and there. The Mindy Project already featured a wonderful cast, but apparently they needed an amazing assortment of memorable guest stars too.

The star of the show (and the reason this series has become so beloved by its audience) is Mindy Kaling. She's one of the most talented people working in the industry at the moment, both in film and television. There's a clear confidence, intelligence, warmth, and kindness to her personality. She's the kind of person capable of being an inspiration to others, and she has a genuineness to her that makes the character she plays on the show more relatable and enjoyable. As the creator, show-runner, head- writer, producer, and lead actress of The Mindy Project she has to do a great deal in making the show work from episode to episode. Yes, she gets a lot of help like anyone working in the TV business as there's a great staff of writers and creative-people involved in making The Mindy Project, but she is so clearly the heart of the series and the one making it work so well.

For a comedy, the writing benefits from telling a lot of good jokes. Considering the fact that the show aims to model itself after many romantic comedies in some of its storytelling approaches, it's wonderful that it models those aspects after the classics instead of simply falling into what is decidedly unfunny about many modern romantic comedies (though certainly not all of them). In an interview with Charlie Role in February of 2014, Mindy Kaling referenced the need to make the show a funny romantic comedy program - and that she's noticed how many films that now get made as romantic comedies skip the comedy part and forget how to be funny. This is one reason why The Mindy Project is so successful. It's funny... hilarious... and laugh-out-loud because of the quality jokes written by Mindy and some other staff writers.

Ratings-wise, the show is considered something that is "on the bubble" (this was the case for both season one and two). Yet the show's confidence in creativity and the quality of it is of a high caliber that would never suggest it could get cancelled. Hopefully that never happens. Mindy could make the show work for a long time, and the television landscape would be a significantly dimmer one without her creativity on display. The Mindy Project should be produced for years to come if season two is any indication. For fans of laughing, quality romantic comedies, and originality this is a show that absolutely must be checked out.

The DVD:


Video:

The good news is that The Mindy Project second season DVD release fares a wee bit better  than S1 with regards to the presentation quality. It's not a dramatically different experience from the previous season, but it's a reasonably engaging video presentation with a slight boost in the quality. The set presents it with the original television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. It certainly would still benefit from receiving a Blu-ray release (the show does air in HD), but considering the limitations of the format, these are good quality discs that are serviceable for a television sitcom (even if it's not ideal). Colors are good, contrast is strong, and detail is OK in most scenes. There are some moments of minor compression related artifacts, but for the most part it's a pretty clean, modern looking show with encodes that represent that effectively. Most fans should feel pleased with this reasonable presentation, presented in anamorphic widescreen.

Audio:

The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is impressive in the sense that the music dynamics of the score and dialogue clarity are reasonably strong, which for a sitcom is easily the most important thing to consider. Viewers shouldn't expect to find a fully dynamic surround field as it's uncommon to find such things with comedy series. Yet there is a reasonably enveloping soundstage, even if most of it is pretty basic by design.

English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are also included.


Extras:

The release includes deleted scenes from selected episodes of season two and a gag reel (12 min.) of goofs from the cast from during filming. Funnily enough, a large portion of these outtakes are focused around Mindy Kaling laughing uncontrollably while attempting to successfully deliver a comedic line: it's nice to know she finds it just as funny as we do.

Final Thoughts:

The Mindy Project is one of the best sitcoms on television. The series is original, fresh, and has a genuineness to it that sets it apart from a lot of other shows on network television at the moment. The new season begun this week (at the time of my writing), and is now going to be available for viewing on Fox Tuesdays at 9:30 / 8:30 central time.  Hulu Plus will also have episodes available for viewing. Fans of the show should certainly consider adding the season 2 DVD release to their collections. The show was even better in its second season and season 3 should be promising for fans given the excellent season 2 finale.

Highly Recommended.



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