in Shocktober

The Mindy Project – “Halloween”

Season 1, Episode 4
Original Air Date:
October 30th, 2012

So The Mindy Project is another show I didn’t know much about going in, but thankfully, as the fourth episode of a half hour comedy, I didn’t have a lot of catching up to do. It’s also a show that actually made its Halloween episode actually about Halloween, so that’s another big plus for me. I guess this is exactly what I was looking for when I picked so many shows I had never watched for this year’s Shocktober. Just a fun slice of a much bigger pie. Basically, I’m happy to be going out on a nice note. Let me tell you about it.

The episode begins with Mindy (Mindy Kaling) on an innovative “breakfast date” with Josh (Tommy Dewey), who is a jerk. It’s very sitcom-y in that he’s an obvious bastard but she’s, for whatever reason, charmed by him. Anyway he negs her into coming to the ESPN Halloween party that night and demands she really bring it in the costume department. Mindy doesn’t want to go, but at work she runs into her ex-boyfriend Tom (Bill Hader!) and realizes how over her he is. This causes Mindy to spiral a bit and she decides to call Josh back and accept the date.

So now Mindy needs a banging costume on short notice. She gets her coworkers to get all the costumes they can find and she tries on some combinations in a fun montage. We get hits like “Tinkerbell Tailor Soldier Spy” and “Dirty Harry Potter.” But none of the costumes are sexy so Mindy loses her nerve. Out of nowhere she calls Anna Camp who puts her on with her daughter, who explains that Linus is the hero of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and not a loser, which gives Mindy the courage to dress up as Diane from Cheers and go to the party.

There’s also a b-plot where two of the other doctors, Danny (Chris Messina) and Jeremy (Ed Weeks) sneak off to Long Island to get their driver’s licenses. Danny’s hung up about how a “real man can go where he wants” but Jeremy (a Brit) is just tired of using his passport as ID at bars. It’s actually the funnier part of the episode but has nothing to do with Halloween.

The one downside to watching this episode is that it is clearly from a show still finding its footing. Mindy is an OB/GYN but her work really just gives her coworkers to hang out with, she could be anything. Similarly, it’s clear the writers are just starting to figure out what to do with the cast. Mindy bounces her costume ideas of two receptionists (Zoe Jarman and Amanda Setton) plus a nurse (Ike Barinholtz) who all don’t really seem to have personalities yet or reasons to all be there. Danny and Jeremy’s plot has more of an arc than Mindy’s does and since it focuses on just the two of them it’s easier to start to like their characters.

And that’s the whole game with sitcoms, isn’t it? Once they’ve got you convinced that these friends are *your* friends, you’ll be on the hook for as long as the show runs. Given that The Mindy Project ran for six seasons between Fox and Hulu, I bet it hit that stride at some point. Just like I did with these reviews, to the point that I’ve very much been on autopilot writing this whole thing trying to get it out the door before midnight. Thanks for reading this far and have a happy Halloween!