Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 4.04: "It's a Plastic Pumpkin, Louis Huang"

“Hope is for amateurs.”

Everybody knows I love a good Halloween television, although this one left me wanting a bit. I think there were too many plots happening at once (all Halloween-related, of course). At the center of it all is Louis, who true to his kind of child-like (in a good way) nature, loves Halloween. He has to deal with the fact that his boys are growing up and aren’t always going to want to spend Halloween with their dad. Louis had been hoping he’d still have a few more years celebrating the holiday with Evan, at least, but we know that Evan just wants to be a little adult, so he wasn’t having it. The other plots didn’t have as much substance, probably because there was too much going on at once. Eddie’s plot was good for some laughs as the boys try to get into a Halloween party thrown by a Senior, and Jessica and Emery’s plot had some good horror movie moments and a great fake-out at the end, but the heart of the episode was Louis. As I suppose it should be, considering Halloween is his favorite holiday and all. Oh, and Randall Park does a pretty decent Jerry Seinfeld impression, by the way.

The episode opens with Louis haggling to purchase the family Halloween pumpkin. It reminded me of the dad in A Christmas Story. Louis gets a black cat with a witch’s hat decoration thrown in for free, so he’s happy. Louis never stuck me as much as a haggler, so I didn’t quite buy this scene. Back at the house, Louis announces that he has also bought family Halloween costumes – they’re all going to be characters from Seinfeld. Louis is going to be Jerry, of course. He gives Jessica an Elaine costume, but she turns it down. She wants to use the calm of everybody being out for Halloween to get some work done on her Jennifer Hong mystery novel. Somebody on the writing staff must be named Jennifer or Jessica and was born in the late 70’s early 80’s. They were the number one and two names at the time (and my parents’ first and second choice for my name, because apparently they weren’t creative about naming). I always like seeing a character with one name use the other for some reason, because it makes so much sense for those of us born at that particular time.

The boys all turn down Louis’ invite, too. Emery doesn’t want to partake in a superstitious holiday like Halloween during his bad luck year, although he is willing to wear the Kramer costume and stay in his room. Eddie is just plan offended that Louis wants him to be Newman, so much so that he backs out of the room while continuing to stare disapprovingly at Louis. Plus, Eddie and his buds have their own plan. They are going to sit across the street from the Halloween party a senior girl on the dance team is throwing wearing tough costumes hoping they’ll be invited in. Evan has purchase a plastic pumpkin that sings the Addams Family theme, much to Louis’ chagrin, so as Jessica points out, he’s clearly still at least a little into Halloween, but he already has plans to go to Deirdre’s adult party (he got invited through the HOA). Louis tries to convince Evan to wear the George Costanza costume and help him hand out candy instead, because adult parties are boring. Evan says he’s in, but then he ends up going to Deirdre’s party anyway. That’s where Louis finds him after he has a disastrous attempt at guessing a Trick-or-Treater’s costume.

Eddie and his boys meet up for the party, and everybody looks pretty tough other than Brian, who is dressed as Prince. Brian is instructed to sit behind everybody else. Then Walter starts gushing over the little kids walking by in their Halloween costumes (particularly an Ariel and a Pikachu), and the rest of the guys tell him to be quiet. He bails, as he’d rather spend his Halloween gushing over little kids in costumes, apparently. Nicole stops by and lets the guys know that she’s going to a party with all the high school’s women’s sports teams. I’m not sure I’m liking the direction the show is taking with this Nicole is a Lesbian plot. It was handled well in the first episode where it came up, but it’s just been a cheap joke ever since. Anyway, Brian thinks that party sounds better than waiting on a stoop in the heat, so he joins her. Then the varsity football team walks by and thinks Brian is crying, when he’s actually just sweating in his Juggalo makeup. Brian bails, too, so it’s just Eddie and Trent left. Trent manages to scare Eddie off with this awesome monologue about how Halloween is easy, it’s showing emotion the other 364 days of the year that’s hard. Eddie gets weirded out and leaves, and then Trent gets invited into the party.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Emery tells Jessica, who is having some writer’s block, that he heard a weird noise coming from Grandma’s room. When they approach her door, they hear a man’s voice saying to come inside. They open the door, and they are surprised to see it’s just Grandma in the room, and she’s pissed that they invaded her privacy. Emery is convinced that some horror movie level spookiness is going on. Jessica tries to calm him down until a small group of people show up at their door, say they need Jenny, and Grandma rolls off with them. Jessica thinks a possessed grandma plot could be just what her novel needs, so she agrees to follow the group with Emery. Grandma goes into an old church, and when Jessica and Emery follow her in, they think she’s part of some sort of coven. There’s a person making weird noises, another person reading words like “butcher,” and yet another person brewing something in a cauldron. It turns out, however, that it’s just Grandma’s ESL class. She wanted to understand what her family was saying when they were speaking English really fast, but she didn’t want them to know she knew what they were saying. Also, she kind of has a thing for the teacher, Bernard, played by none other than George Takei (the voice Emery and Jessica had heard was a tape he made for her).

Louis keeps trying to get Evan to leave the party, because it really isn’t age appropriate, no matter how mature Evan thinks he is, but he keeps getting waylaid by people wanting to talk about their problems, or Honey and Marvin wanting to talk about baby names. Evan is making non-alcoholic drinks, which isn’t making some of the partygoers too happy. Eventually Louis gets Evan to leave, Evan dresses up as George, but Evan’s not happy about it. He does a pretty good grumpy George impression while handing out candy. Eventually, Evan and Louis have it out. Each accuses the other of not acting their age. Evan says that he’s definitely a kid, but not the kid Louis wants him to be. This gets through to Louis, who says Evan can go back to Deirdre’s. He even offers to walk Evan over when Evan realizes how late it is and gets scared. I think Louis is just happy to still be needed by one of his sons.

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