After last week’s action-packed episode, “To Catch A Paparazzi” (an episode of television featuring both Gooding brothers), “A Night In” has a high bar to clear, just in terms of keeping up the pace and possibly taking things to an even crazier level. It’s a lofty goal, because “To Catch A Paparazzi” was legitimately a cocaine-fueled nightmarish hellscape. By the time the “actual” To Catch A Paparazzi shooting rolls around, the episode has to end soon, because there’s no way it can possibly keep this nonsense rollercoaster rising.
Then Scoles kidnaps Jack, Ben, and Del, and we’re into “A Night In.”
What’s important to acknowledge about “A Night In” is that it doesn’t top “To Catch A Paparazzi” in terms of insanity, because it neither needs nor wants to. Both are absolutely fantastic episodes in their own right, the two best of the series so far. But “A Night In” is actually a smaller scale (as far as Big Time In Hollywood, FL does smaller scale) affair, focusing less on how crazy things can get—even though things do get crazy—and more on the real life consequences their week of chaos is taking on them. Well, the real life consequences this week of chaos is taking on Ben.
At first, “A Night In” feels like a breather episode. “Filler” isn’t quite the right word in a heavily serialized comedy series such as this one (and neither is “bottle episode” for this particular episode), but there’s certainly the impression early on that this will be a small break from the chaos. The B-plot being date night for Alan and Diana is the key to that assumption, as it is full of easy, breezy jokiness between the old married couple and delicious twist off wine, while the A-story, in theory, is just (“just”) a bizarre hostage situation.
But nothing is ever that simple in Big Time In Hollywood, FL, because even the most straightforward things must also become the most complicated when it comes to Jack, Ben, and Del the simpleton. Part of that is the simple idiocy of the main duo (or trio), some of it Jack’s sociopathic tendencies (in addition to his delusional tendencies), and another part is just absolute dumb, bad luck. “A Night In” has Jack and Ben explain to Scoles the whole situation they’re in, misunderstandings and all, and for a brief moment, it’s all fine. Someone else is in on the world of stress they’ve created for themselves, and it’s great, for a moment. They’re laughing, they’re drinking, and they’re finally getting to let their hair down.
Then Scoles sticks his gun in his mouth and shoots himself, and because the the brothers (and Del) can’t do anything the easy way, they turn that into a whole debacle. What could be as easy as wiping some fingerprints and leaving Scoles’ motel room ends up being the most ridiculous staged suicide scene ever—for what is already a real suicide. But in terms of the show, it works, not just because the brothers can’t do things the easy way, but because Del—who had never had a drop of alcohol before this night, if you can even call that the reason—can’t help but let his CPI certification take over when he attempts CPR and chest compressions on Scoles’ corpse. On two separate occasions, both with the man being very dead. What becomes less of a simple problem is still one the trio manages to bungle up more than necessary, and it’s great.
It also leads to Jack sending a death erection dick pic to his own mother, Diana (or “DD,” as Scoles has her in his phones), in an act of logic that only makes sense to him.
On a less narrative level, a major highlight of “A Night In” (and Big Time In Hollywood, FL as whole) is the editing style, particularly the mirroring from scene to scene that happens for most of the episode. Comedy Central has been making a name for itself in the past few years for the distinct and unique cinematic styles of its sketch comedy show, but even Big Time In Hollywood, FL has that going for it, no doubt in large part to creators Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf’s approaches to storytelling. Just look at their past work on Next Time On Lonny.
Once the episode gets to a certain point, it’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch the transitions between A-plot and B-plot scenes. From the slap fight between Jack and Del (and the playful slap from Diana to Dan) to the wiping off a magic markered on penis (and toweling off blood from Scoles’ mouth) to the lighting of cigarette (and the flames of a TV fireplace, because this is South Florida) to the Viagra (and the bullet). Back and forth, back and forth. Like televisual tennis. Big Time In Hollywood, FL is a visually-appealing series, and part of that stems from how it’s not afraid to make some interesting decisions. It’s impressive for a complex show that surprisingly only works with an A/B story plotting.
The key to Big Time In Hollywood, FL is to think of the situations Jack and Ben find themselves in through their eyes (in order to possibly see why they think any of their plans would work) as well as your own, more (presumably) rational eyes. There’s head-in-the-clouds characters, and there’s slacker characters, but this takes it to another level of impractical. “A Night In” finally has Ben explain that things aren’t great—for either of them but especially for him—and acknowledges that his head isn’t necessarily as in the clouds as his brother’s; he’s just along for the ride. Until he isn’t, and that’s how the episode (and the midpoint of the season) ends. It ends with this absurdist comedy going for real emotions. That’s not exactly what one goes into Big Time In Hollywood, FL expecting, but it’s hard to say it’s not for the better.
- Let’s see if your cries (yes, there were cries) for Big Time In Hollywood, FL coverage were real. As soon as I got this assignment, I finally decided to binge watch all of Next Time On Lonny, which was simultaneously the best and worst thing I’ve done in a while. I spent an inordinate amount of time on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” episode. I also watched the whole series twice.
- Scoles: “It’s called To Catch A Prick. And you guys are in the first episode.”
Jack: “You’re shooting it right now?”
- Alan: “Oh no! For the love of St. Pete!” Florida!
- Del (with the second bullet): “I got it!”
Jack: “Oh. Good. Hopefully the police won’t notice there’s two holes.”
- “I KILLED MYSELF. LOVE, HARVEY.” Great note.
- At first, I found it strange that Alan would put on the leather jacket as he was storming out of the bedroom, but oh boy did it make sense as soon as he made the phone call to Scoles.
- Jack: “You wanna give up the dream?”
Ben: “The ‘dream’? In the last week, I’ve gotten a man killed, lied to the police, tried to flee the country, checked myself into rehab, was almost raped and then pumped full of lithium, broke into some random family’s house and tortured some dumb school teacher, was kidnapped and then had a gun shot into my mouth, which, by the way, was one chamber from killing me!”
Jack: “It’s been a bad week!”
Ben: “You think?!”
Jack: “How is that my fault?!”
- “Congratulations. This investigation just went federal.” The fun has arrived. “The fun” is one of my nicknames for Keith David.