Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the case of in media res opening

Illustration for article titled Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the case of in media res opening


Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): We know The A.V. Club recently called for a moratorium on in media res openings, but please indulge What’s On Tonight, as we’re currently suffering from the shock of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine season finale—which begins with a drunken Jake declaring he’s been fired, then works back from there—with arriving so early on the schedule. A shock that’s clearly telegraphed by What’s On Tonight’s haggard appearance, ragged clothes, busted glasses, and the strange, generically Mezo-American belt wrapped around its waist. Before What’s On Tonight collapses in a heap, Molly Eichel swears she heard it say “Pleasant”—what does it all mean?


The Originals (The CW, 8 p.m.): Flashback to February, when What’s On Tonight began this tedious attempt to drum up attention for TV Club’s Tuesday bubble shows by sticking The Originals and Cougar Town in this section until their readership improves—or until they’re dropped from regular coverage. Did Rowan Kaiser decide he’d had enough of this charade? It’s hard to tell, because at this point in the story, his dialogue is all exposition.


New Girl (Fox, 9 p.m.): Oh look, there’s New Girl guest star Alexandra Daddario, who’s already accustomed to this time-hopping sequencing thanks to her recurring turn on True Detective. Erik Adams is too busy wondering how Apartment 4D ties into the Carcosa mythos to notice that Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s episode count is teetering dangerously close to 22.

Cougar Town (TBS, 10 p.m.): An ailing Chick accepts an invitation to move in with Jules and Grayson—unbeknownst to Jules. Unbeknownst to What’s On Tonight, Les Chappell is seen shuffling a deck of cards in the background, the camera lingering on his technique just long enough to show a card bearing the same marking as the belt in the Top Pick cold open.


Glee (Fox, 8 p.m.)
Supernatural (The CW, 9 p.m.)
Trophy Wife (ABC, 9:30 p.m.)
Person Of Interest (CBS, 10 p.m.)
Justified (FX, 10 p.m.)
Kroll Show (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.)




Celebrity Closets (E!, 8 p.m.): Perhaps there are skeletons in those closets, relating to What’s On Tonight’s ultimate fate? No, no there aren’t—this is also a red herring because the premise of this show sounds far too dull to be involved in something so exciting.


Bad Girls All Star Battle (Oxygen, 9 p.m.): What’s On Tonight flips the channel, and finds itself in the middle of a reunion-special skirmish. What’s On Tonight narrowly avoid getting clotheslined by one of the baddest all stars of the Bad Girls All Stars…

Friday Night Tykes (Esquire, 9 p.m.): …only to get creamed in the face with by a bad pass during the Friday Night Tykes finale. Glasses broken, but temporarily fixed with some athletic tape swiped from the sidelines.


Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan (BBC America, 10 p.m.): Startled, but undaunted, What’s On Tonight forges forward, asking for help in dealing with this blasted in media res setup from someone who knows a fair deal about in media res setups: Former Lost star Dominic Monaghan. But before that can happen, a shadowy figure drops a bag of snakes on What’s On Tonight. Monaghan arrives to help, but not before the snakes rip What’s On Tonight’s sleeves to shreds.

Superman II (Hub, 8 p.m.): While kneeling before Zod, What’s On Tonight wears out the knees of it pants.


Wreck-It Ralph (Starz, 8 p.m.): The stopover at Litwak’s Arcade is a welcome respite—this in spite of the nonstop pixelated action of Wreck-It Ralph. While dropping quarter after quarter into the crane machine—there’s a Fozzie Bear plush in there that What’s On Tonight must haveBrooklyn Nine-Nine passes its 21st episode. When the crane finally holds onto Fozzie long enough, What’s On Tonight discovers a familiar-looking belt wrapped several times around the bear.

NBA Basketball: Thunder at Mavericks (TNT, 8 p.m.): Suddenly, the walls quake, shaken by a tremendous racket from above, as if the sound created by an atmospheric electrostatic discharge was doing battle with a bunch of Wild West renegades. Cut to black.



Meanwhile, hundreds of miles and a couple decades earlier, Surviving Jack’s Christopher Meloni berates his TV son into manhood, observed by a time-traveling Sonia Saraiya. Flash sideways to a bustling studio, populated by puppet builders, animatronics wizards, and tinkerers of all stripes, working to bring the stars of Dinosaurs to life. These artists will inspire the bickering reality-show competitors of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, though Erik Adams wishes he could just watch everyday Creature Shop action instead. But he can’t. The story must push on from this tangent of arguable necessity.



Now back to the present timeline, where the source of the noise that leveled the arcade is not late-season Western Conference basketball action, but rather a tremendous floating orb from outer space. In a blur of ’70s video-effects technology, an artifact of tremendous importance appears before What’s On Tonight: Shout! Factory’s MST3K Volume XXIX, the DVD set that brings with it one of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s greatest late-season triumphs: The Pumaman.


But just as soon as it appears, so does Donald Pleasance (What’s On Tonight didn’t mutter “Pleasant”—it was “Pleasance”!), all duded out in a Klaus Nomi getup and ready to do battle for these four DVDs that could control the world. (Plus, he’s a big Mamie Van Doren fan, so he’s been waiting patiently for an official release of Untamed Youth—featuring a new interview with Van Doren herself!) Using the ancient Aztec mind-control powers of the DVDs, it appears Pleasance will win the day.  Until, that is, the faces of a dozen TV Club writers appear to What’s On Tonight in a vision. “Use the belt, What’s On Tonight! Become The Pumaman” they intone in unison. “Also, don’t forget to set the DVR for the Brooklyn Nine-Nine finale. It’s airing in March for some reason.” But What’s On Tonight doesn’t hear this last part, because it’s already put on the belt, acquiring the crimson cape and sensible slacks of The Pumaman. Leaping at Pleasance, What’s On Tonight grabs the DVDs, at which point the screen fills with a blinding light. Cut to black again.


RuPaul’s Drag Race: Fade in on the scene from Top Pick, from a different angle this time. What’s On Tonight in rough shape. No sign of Pleasance, but a note is now attached to the DVDs.

Dear What’s On Tonight,

Thanks for defeating the evil Donald Pleasance. By the by: We kept Brooklyn Nine-Nine on all through the Olympics in order to clear out space to bring The Mindy Project back in April. Turns out we ordered way too many new comedies this year. (LOL remember Dads?) Please enjoy these MST3K DVDs and the eventual burn-off of Us And Them as a consolation prize.

PS While you blacked out, you missed Drag Race’s latest Snatch Game.


The Outer Space Aztec Gods Who Program Fox On The Side

What’s On Tonight carries on, clutching the DVDs ever closer, passing by the floating heads of the TV Club writers. “Plesance,” What’s On Tonight mutters. “Pleasance.” Then the collapse.


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