Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Driving Miss Dalia" lands Tessa in Suburgatory

     ABC's comedy Suburgatory begins its 2012 run with "Driving Miss Dalia." Tessa (Jane Levy) passes her driving test, but Dalia (Carly Chaikin) doesn't. Again. So Dalia pays Tessa to drive her as she stalks her dream guy, Scott Strauss (Thomas McDonell). Sadly for Dalia, Scott is more interested in Tessa, which makes Tessa feel guilty, until Dalia talks down to her driver just a little too much. Meanwhile, George (Jeremy Sisto) is confused by Noah's (Alan Tudyk) want to keep him from joining the country club.

     "Driving Miss Dalia" is the first episode with any significant plot for Dalia, and that's OK. Looking like plastic, her character is about as interesting as the semi-durable material, too. Sure, this episode does allow Dalia to exhibit some personality and emotional reaction. But it's not enough to make her layered or spur any need to have her on screen. It's hard to tell if this is the actress's fault, or just the way the writers and directors would like to use her. Either way, it fails. Other series have done characters of Dalia's type before, but rarely has one been so completely boring. If there is never another Dalia story in Suburgatory, that would be quite all right.

     Tessa, on the other hand, continues to be the fan favorite that is easy to root for. Of course she should have Scott, as she is far more deserving of him. Her ill feelings at coming between Dalia, someone Tessa doesn't care for in the slightest, and "her" man only endear her further. The fact that Scott chooses Tessa, and Dalia has so little respect for Tessa, makes the pairing fine. Perhaps Dalia does feel slightly betrayed, but more likely the reaction of disbelief is the overriding main focus, so there's not even a problem for Tessa there. Tessa does nothing wrong.

     The Noah / George plot in "Driving Miss Dalia" is confusing at first, but then, brave and realistic. As Noah says when they fight, he loans George a toy and then gets mad that George plays with it. Noah acts like a spoiled child in his attempts to block George, but then again, so do plenty of people from time to time, especially in Suburgatory and places like it. Even best friends can make mistakes, treat each other poorly, and not want the other one around from time to time. Noah is being selfish, but his correction, including paying the membership fee George really can't afford, make up for it. It's not a dynamic seen often on TV, but it is in real life, so Suburgatory deserves credit for addressing it, and executing the story well.

     A little less believable is the way the country club treats George. He is dinged from membership by Jocelyn (Arden Myrin, MADtv), yet is allowed to join on George's family plan. He makes several scenes, including a wrestling match with the naked Noah, which should also be enough to deny his joining, and possibly even get Noah kicked out himself. The only explanation is that Noah holds some serious sway over the club or its board that it not talked about in the series. Otherwise, why would George be allowed to get away with such antics, and still be accepted? Not to mention, be allowed to be listed as a son on Noah's plan, something that is a very obvious falsehood.

     The only real complaint about this episode? Not enough Dallas (Cheryl Hines), who should have more scenes every single week with George! Their chemistry is amazing!

     For the most part, Suburgatory grows more sure of itself, and is more enjoyable each week. With a weak start, this could not be predicted, but it is fast becoming a must-see of the current season. Hopefully, this trend will continue.

     Watch Suburgatory Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

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1 comment:

  1. What a great way to bring to the series back...this may have been my favorite episode since the pilot, I love the back and forth between Tessa and Dalia. Loved the Scott dynamic, and I seriously laughed out loud when Tessa rear ended him and also the subsequent "Tessa, you just banged Scott Strauss" hahaa. Also, so happy to hear "Hey You" by Pigeon John during that scene, what a great song. Can't wait for tonight's episode!


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