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The Neighborhood - Welcome to the Repipe - Review - "Just Because You Got Hit One Time"

Second time's the charm. The extreme awkwardness of the pilot gets mostly swept away this week, as the show focuses on generation gaps. The culture gap has its moments too. Overall the entire cast seems to be enjoying digging into their characters, and they create some genuinely humorous moments.

This episode has a secret weapon. His name is Marcel Spears. As the youngest Butler son and "a grown man" with his own job, apartment, and comic books; Marty (Spears) is uniquely positioned to understand both his parents' perspectives and the Johnsons'. And ready and able to enjoy every twist and turn. Spears's comic timing is unparalleled. While it can sometimes feel like the cast is waiting for the audience to be cued to laugh, that's never the case with Spears. There's also a great contrast between Marty and his older brother Malcolm (Sheaun McKinney is very good too). Guess which one gets invited to bring his laundry home for Tina to do? It's the only way she gets to see her independent child. The opening scene with both brothers breakfasting on discount Fruit Loops, labelled "KIDS" is great. It's nice that Marty doesn't go out of his way to point out his superior standing to Malcolm.

This week's neighborly dilemma comes courtesy of a broken pipe at the Johnson house. Malcolm ends up working on it, with the help of Dave and YouTube. Calvin is outside throwing around a baseball with Grover. And Tina takes Gemma next door to lend her their shower. This situation produces a number of well-developed interactions. Grover gets smacked in the face with the baseball, in part because he told Calvin he was an excellent baseball player. That's what his dad tells him. Calvin is more honest, telling him he's not good at all, but he also encourages Grover to not give up but keep trying. It's more subtle commentary, this time on the difference in parenting styles between the Butlers and the Johnsons.

This comes back around when Malcolm fixes the pipe, and an astonished Calvin can only chirp out lukewarm approval. Dave points out how a little support might boost Malcolm's confidence. This is something we just saw Calvin do with Grover, which speaks to how parents can sometimes be farsighted with children.

Of course then there's the Story of Gemma and the Wig. When Tina shows Gemma to the master bathroom, Gemma comments on Tina's wig displayed on the vanity. Later, when she comes out, Gemma decides to try it on. Audience laughter is usually very canned on these shows, but in this moment it built with such trepidation! Marty walking in, Gemma's complete mortification, and Tina's reaction combined for a completely hilarious scene.
Another element I noticed was the contrast between the two houses. The Butler home is full of color and fabric, everything from the mismatched pillows to the unripe olive green chair covers. The Johnsons are still moving in, of course, but their whole interior look is very modern. They have bleak gray chairs around a basic gray table. Everything is one-note. Also the Butlers have carpet in some rooms, while the Johnson home (probably updated before it was sold) seems to have all hard floors. I will be interested to see how the house looks when they are done moving in, but I would wager it will start out with a neat, minimalist appearance that is not nearly as cozy as the Butlers. I interpreted this not as cultural difference as much a reflection on how a younger family hasn't accumulated their own identity yet.

So much more to take in with this episode. It focused more on molding interpersonal connections and letting these comedic artists do what they do best. It showed improvement.

Best Quotes:

Calvin: "Weekend? You don't even have a job. When did your week even start?"

Calvin: "There's no such thing as a good plumber. I mean a grown man who dreams of splashing around in another man's used water?"

Gemma: "Is that your wig?"
Tina: "It would be weird if it wasn't."

Calvin: "Malcolm said he can do it with YouTube."
Dave (completely serious): "Can he?"

Dave: "Did you see that?"
Calvin: "I just saw my broke son turn down perfectly good money."
Dave: "Really, because I just saw someone who must have been raised by a pretty good dad."

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