There was a very special Beaver-centric episode of Greek last night, and I have a review of it after the jump.
In his review of the new season, Dan Fienberg wrote about the fact that Greek has remained, over its four-season run, quite an insular show:
… after 60+ episodes, “Greek” has barely expanded its universe at all. Yes, we’ve established a few beloved tertiary characters like Aaron Hill’s Beaver or Aynsley Bubbico’s Laura, but they mostly only pop up for unessential plotlines and comic relief (or, in the case of Kinsey McLean’s Trip, for unmotivated villainy). You’d be hard-pressed to think of a show that has lasted this long without introducing a few regular characters in mid-stream or losing a couple regulars in passing.
It’s like the writers were responding directly to that critique with last night’s episode, “All About Beav,” in which Beaver (or, shall we say, Walter Boudreaux) took the spotlight and really ran with it. He was integral in two of the three main story lines, and despite (or perhaps because of) his usual supporting role, he worked quite well as a main protagonist. Aaron Hill proved he could do more than act charmingly dumb, and his lead performance helped make this the best hour of the season so far.
The whole thing had a unique feel to it. There was the fantasy music in Beaver’s head when Catherine walked in; “Greek, Greek, Greek…” over the main title credit; the fourth-wall breaking in the final scene. I particularly liked the way we followed Beaver through the ΚΤ house: where we would have usually stopped to listen to Cappie’s speech, we instead followed Beaver into the backyard, while Cappie continued to speak offscreen.
Aside from the stylistic differences, the writers also provided some nice meta references to Beaver’s presence in the show (“Why am I seeing you more today than every before?” “Maybe I’ve been there all along but you’ve never noticed.”). And the name reveal was handled casually, which was a good way to show that, outside the Greek system, there is no reason people wouldn’t know his real name. (Now I’m curious to see how they reveal Cappie’s real name, since there’s no way they don’t before the end of the series.)
I don’t think it would work to upgrade Beaver to a permanent lead role, or to start doing this kind of episode with other bit players, but “All About Beav” provided a nice break from the usual structure, while still feeling completely like an episode of Greek. As I’ve written before, this show is all about the core group of characters, so regularly/permanently changing that structure wouldn’t work, especially this late in the game. One episode that centered on our favorite (not so) dumb former jock, though? Nailed it.
As for the rest of the episode, we got more of the same from Evan, Rebecca and Cappie, a partnership between Casey and Katherine, and some big, abrupt changes on the Rusty/Dana front.
Dilshad Vadsaria and Jack McDorman probably have the least amount of chemistry among all the leads, so I’ve never really bought their relationship, especially after all the jealousy/cheating/etc. It made sense that Rebecca would come up with some calculating scheme rather than just talk to Evan about their problems, but then Evan pretty much told Rebecca that everything will be okay if she just admits she needs him, and we all know Rebecca Logan doesn’t do “needy.” From the look on her face at the end, their reconciliation won’t last long.
If it hadn’t been for Beaver’s presence, Casey’s story wouldn’t have done much for me last night, but instead we got the two of them running around Cyprus looking for Dave, which gave us glimpses into such locales as the football stadium and the Rio night club (there are other places than the Greek houses and Dobler’s!). The parallel drawn between Casey and Beaver was a bit clunky (Casey keeping up with Rusty academically is just like Beaver trying to keep up with the football team’s partying ways!), but there was good payoff in both the Casey/Katherine and Beaver/Katherine alliances. Nice to see Katherine doesn’t just go for the nerdy guys.
I guess I should have seen the Rusty/Dana break-up coming. Non-regular character pairings rarely last on TV, and this being Greek, that likelihood goes down to zero; I just didn’t think this one would end so soon. Just a few episodes ago, they were talking about spending more time together this semester, but I guess giving Dana co-founder credit on the project was more than Rusty could handle. I saw the jerk side of Rusty come out a bit in that exchange, but with Ashleigh on his side, I guess he felt justified in his decision.
The different threads didn’t all fit together thematically, but they moved the respective stories forward and gave us 45 minutes with Beaver. From Greek, that’s more than enough to make me happy.
Bits & Pieces
- Now, about Rusty and Ashleigh… There have definitely been hints of her attraction to him in the past, but now it looks like it might actually go somewhere. How is Rusty not picking up on that, though?
- Why would Rusty and Dana put their Revolutionary!, Environmental!, (expensive!) project on the ground?!
- So, is CRU supposed to be an amazing school? Katherine transferred from Yale, but Beaver and Cappie are also students there, so it doesn’t quite make sense.
- Really, Beaver’s lucky he got an F and didn’t get expelled.
- “Can you believe they almost shut down the glee club again? What a close call – again.” [Sidenote: As good as Jane Lynch is on Glee, Sue’s one-dimensional villainy is getting old. And giving her a sister with Down syndrome isn’t a solution.]
- “Don’t Mock the Killer Birds.” Sounds like a good sequel.
- “You’re my favorite lady I’ve never had sex with, Casey.”
- “C-… Are you trying to seduce me again? ‘Cause it’s working.”
- So Beaver’s going to be a kindergarten teacher…
Share your thoughts on “All About Beav” in the comments section below!