Remember those drunken nights when a bunch of thirty-something-year-old doctors hijack a college kegger? Or when our favorite OB-GYN, Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), got drunk and arrested for swimming in a private pool? Well, that’s not the vibe in “The Mindy Project” 2.0.
The FOX sitcom following the episodic dating and work life of Dr. Lahiri continues, but at first glance, it looks like “The Mindy Project” got a makeover.
In the season two premiere, “All My Problems Solved Forever,” Mindy’s finally settling down with steady pastor boyfriend/fiancé, Casey (Anders Holms), whose proposal replaces those hopeless crushes, flings and one-night stands. Her charity work in Haiti takes over for her New York City job. And Dr. McDreamy — a.k.a. Paul Leotard (James Franco) — fills in her NYC office as a new OB-GYN/sex therapist.
After 24 episodes of failed flings and a parade of suitors (including cameo appearances from Bill Hader, Tommy Dewey, Josh Meyers, Seth Rogan and B.J. Novak), “The Mindy Project” 2.0 looks mature and dull.
Mindy’s wardrobe of hospital scrubs and colorful, sparkly and fun form-fitting dresses are replaced by drab sweaters. Her long, luscious hair’s chopped off into a short, but flattering Rhianna-esque boy cut.
Meanwhile, Mindy’s getting married (as opposed to ruining ex’s weddings). But happily ever afters don’t make for good T.V. (or in Taylor Swift’s case, good love songs).
The old Mindy Kaling had attitude and style. She knew who she wanted and selfishly sought after it — even when she played “The Office’s” Kelly Kapoor and chased after “male prima donna” Ryan (B.J. Novak).
In comparison, this new “improved” introduction, in which she converts to Casey’s simplistic do-gooder lifestyle, is bland.
At least James Franco knows what’s up. He’s hilariously smug and ridiculously arrogant as Dr. Leotard, consulting co-worker Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) on his sperm.
“You notice they’re behavior,” Franco says. “They’re listless. They’re unhappy. They’re apathetic.”
While Franco’s talking about Danny’s sperm, he could have easily been describing the show’s audience — tired of watching season one’s re-packaged leftovers, served stale and uninviting.
Mindy Lahiri still imagines that she lives in a rom-com. And her co-worker crew of nurse Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and doctors Reed (Ed Weeks) and Castellano still cheer her through the disappointments. But the routine is starting to get old.
In fact, the only tasty appetizer left is Kaling and Messina’s easy chemistry. Dr. Lahiri and Dr. Castellano are adorable and endearing (exchanging letters between continents like two characters out of “The Notebook”), but enough of the unrequited pining, platonic friendship and foreplay! Did it take Jim and Pam this long to get together in “The Office”? When will this relationship become the main course?
This half-hour rom-com sitcom lacks fire and heat and after a one season of failed flings, season two is starting off cold and unsatisfying.
“The Mindy Project” season two premieres at 9:30 p.m. EST/8:30 p.m. Central on Sept. 17 on FOX. Or you can catch a sneak peek on Hulu right now.