Theatre Review: Better Days (Episode 6)
SAK Comedy Lab closes out the first “season” of John Valines and Tod Kimbro's experimental live-action scripted sitcom with this month's finale of Better Days. (See here for reviews of episodes one, two, three, four, and five.)
“Finding Home, Part 2,” concludes the cliffhanger set up in the previous installment, which sending the characters in surprising new directions for a potential second season. Sad-sack bartender Todd (Mike Carr) as finally found a reason to smile in Maddy (Jolie Hart), his roommate Ray's (Will Hagaman) adorably nerdy sister, wounding hapless waitress Sarah (Ana Eligo). Meanwhile, Jocelyn (Jennifer Bonner) has to decide between dueling proposals from her Amish ex-fiancé Hamlisch (Carl Krickmire) and her boorish BFF Jeff (Chris Dinger).
The emotional content in this script is the strongest yet, with the interaction between Sarah and Jocelyn working particularly well. Surpisingly, late addition Chelsea Hilend, with homicidal rage bubbling barely beneath her placid surface, is now officially the series' funniest character. John Didonna appears as a mysterious stranger who everyone mistakes for Tony Stark (I don't see the resemblance) and OW's own Adam McCabe makes a deus ex machina cameo that sets up a curtain-closing twist.
What threw me for a loop, however, was the unforeseen evolution of Sarah from a ditzy wannabe musician to an ALIAS-esque ass-kicking super-spy. The wholesale rewriting of Sarah character seemed completely out of sync with everything previously revealed about her, and transforms the tone of the show from heightened but relatable realism to straight-up surreal satire.
I'm willing to follow Kimbro & Valines' vision into a second season, which should hopefully debut a few months from now in shorter multi-episode chunks. I just hope they don't forget to ground the goofiness in the genuine human connections that have kept me coming back each month. In the meantime, you have two more chances — tonight 6/13 and Thursday 6/20 to see this season finale. Show time has been moved up to 9:30pm, and a “previously on” clip package precedes the episode, so no excuses for not stopping in.