Sullivan & Son: The 50th Anniversary

Thursday’s episode of Sullivan & Son was enjoyable at times, but very little actually happened.  Since the bar seems to be the only major setting, there is hardly any action.  Instead, the characters are free to have very stressful conversations. While this leaves possibilities for the characters to have revelations, there is very little effort to move the story forward. Episodes that are full of dialogue can be funny at times, but they can also get boring.   Despite the potential for Sullivan & Son to be humorous as well as deeply thematic, exclusively relying on slow moving episodes that are full of stress can be a bad idea.

It is the 50th anniversary of Sullivan & Son and things are getting complicated for Steve and his childhood friend Melanie, known as Mel. It is revealed that Mel’s grandfather originally owned the bar and lost it in a poker game against Steve’s grandfather, Jack. Despite this having nothing to do with Steve, Mel holds a grudge for some reason. Of course this is illogical and Steve had nothing to do with the loss of the bar. Mel acknowledges this and is still mad at Steve. Mel’s acknowledgement of  her own hypocrisy is supposed to be funny but it is actually very annoying, There is absolutely no reason for this to be a story. In fact, neither of them were aware of it until Jack brought it to their attention. The fact that it was a plot line shows the drawbacks of relying on one location for an entire episode.

Another plot point had to do with one of Steve’s regular patrons, Owen Benjamin. One of his old high school classmates arrives at the bar and she is noticeably more attractive than she was in high school. Trying to seduce her, Owen gets pointers from his promiscuous mother. This is showing a strange and unhealthy attachment that Owen and his mother have, but it just seems to be part of their dynamic. It’s absurd though it works within the context of the show nonetheless

The story line involving Jack and Steve’s mother, Ok Cha seems to mirror the chemistry between Steve and Mel. Their relationship evolved from a bet and Jack wanted to date Ok cha anyway but did not “have the guts”. He lost a bet on purpose in order to ask her out. Meanwhile, Steve has seemingly been attracted to Melanie since they were kids and they seem to have the same type of chemistry as Steve’s parents. Mel is cold and unforgiving and Steve is sensitive and appeasing.  These two exploring a relationship is contrived and expected, but may still be done well.

Hank,  the bigoted old man who pretty much lives at the bar, seems to be part of the story only to make unacceptable comments or react to the happenings of the characters around him. He is a mouthpiece for expressing stereotypical patterns based on ethnicity or gender. Despite this, he says things that are so ridiculous that they are funny. Brian Doyle-Murray’s voice helps too. With a less colorful tone, it might seem purely hateful as opposed to hateful and funny.

It’s difficult to tell where these stories are headed because they do not seem to be consecutive at all. A series of self-contained episodes is easier to write than elongated storylines and they may even still be funny. However, the lack of effort in moving the story forward can sometimes be very unappealing.

Posted on July 30, 2012, in Comedy, Primetime, TBS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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