“The Mindy Project,” created by and starring Mindy Kaling, was one of the most pleasant surprises of the last TV season.
Kaling, memorable from “The Office” and a brief role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” stars in the Fox sitcom she created as a NYC doctor in a private practice populated with oddball types. Yes, we’ve seen the wacky lead surrounded by wacky supporting characters before. It’s a formula that proved tried and true as far back as Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart’s sitcoms.
But “The Mindy Project” makes it all seem fresh and funny.
The series returns on Sept. 17 but Fox has put the episode online and On Demand in advance. So we could check it out. And of course, we did.
If the second season premiere seems kind of … light and frothy … well, that’s okay. The first season tackled some real, uncomfortable problems that often boiled down to Kalin’s character, Mindy Lahiri, feeling more than a little insecure and out of step with the rest of the world. We were treated to her every dating disaster – is there a more awkward situation than being on a double date and seeing the man and woman who aren’t supposed to be matched up hit it off incredible well? – and office faux pas.
The new episode picks up with Mindy living in Haiti with Casey (Anders Holm), her missionary boyfriend. Before the teaser is over, however, she has a medical emergency and is back in NYC. After her recovery, she goes back to her office only to find she’s been replaced in her private practice by a doctor named Leotard who’s played by James Franco. (Is Franco in every movie and TV series right now? Is that some kind of contractual thing?)
Meanwhile, fellow doc Danny (Chris Messina, wry and evasive as always) is trying to settle into a new relationship with his ex-wife, played by Chloe Sevigny, which includes trying to improve their intimacy. And Mindy and Casey draw closer to their wedding.
Naturally, things go astray for both couples.
The show is so funny and fast, you almost have to rewind it as you’re watching to catch all the quickly thrown-out jokes.
There’s a lot to like about the characters, especially the screw-loose male nurse Morgan (Ike Barinholtz), who’s armed with the best non-sequiturs on TV.
And the repartee between Mindy and Danny is especially smart and funny. The two would seem to be perfect together: Perfectly wry and thorny in their every encounter, I mean. Here’s a “will they or won’t they?” relationship that is as absurd and enjoyable as it is low-key.