21 October 2012

#2LR Too Late Reviews - "Working!!", section 2

When a show is struggling, there are a couple things that Hollywood usually tries in order to bolster its ratings without having to sever contracts to everyone else.  One is the "new character" route, the best example being "Full House", adding more and more infants to the lineup in order to squeeze out as many viewer shares as the kids' cuteness could manage.  I would hazard that they were most successful due to the fact that they literally built that show on as much kids' cuteness they could, so all they were really doing was just giving the audience more of what they want.

The other method that writers will use, especially in ensemble casts, is to throw a romance into the works.  This works because the romance almost becomes its own character, and ends up throwing conflict and humor in its own right.  The one major example I can think of is "Friends" with Rachel and Ross and Chandler and Monica, though television is littered with times that not only were romances introduced, but they even added another character (hey, it's Courtney Cox again!) to the show purely to put up a romance.

I say this because, as weird as it sounds, episodes five through nine of "Working!!" did both.

It's weird to see something that shakes up the core of a show happen so quickly, but it seems that there is happy news afoot.  "Working!!" is currently soft-pedaling the introduction of the new character Yamada (a young waitress), who has no background and lives in the restaurant's attic.  That's good news, because I think that if you try to make the new character the immediate focus then you've lost the focus you had on the characters.  So far, this doesn't have the same smell of desperation that other new characters have given off in the past.  Having this new character be present but not overly active is almost like hiding a time bomb in a basement.  At some point, some of the foundation will give way.  I would like to give extra points to "Working!!" for giving the new character a full part in the opening and closing credits... it was shoehorned, but not painfully so.

The only downside is that it seems painfully obvious exactly how the new character's conflict gets presented and even seems obvious exactly who will help resolve it... so I will watch, hoping to be pleasantly surprised that the writers will have some skill in completing the story arc.

The "throw a romance into the works" part comes from the main protagonist Takanashi, who is doing his level best to help Inami, one of the waitresses he works with, to overcome her fears and natural tendencies.  The show seems to be playing this off as an ersatz romance, which almost makes me wonder if this show is going into love triangle mode.  It's an easy way to generate conflict, but man it makes me feel slightly cheap because you know that the writers are doing their level best to try to play on your emotions ("I want X to win!") just to keep their viewers.  The worst part is when "love triangle" ends up turning into "harem", or goes full Ranma 1/2 and instead of lines between characters, there's scribbles.

The other characters introduced include Takanashi's family of sisters, who get more screen time in one of these episodes.  Much to the show's credit, they didn't go all fanservicey on the obligatory hot springs episode, there was pretty much no fanservice to speak of, though there is just a bit of a hint when the series focuses on one of Takanashi's sisters... she's just missing a Patsy Stone for full comedic drunken rampage.

It is quite impressive that there's so little restaurant-ing going on in the show so far...

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