Photo Credit: Beth Dubber/FOX
Halfway through the premiere episode of The Mindy Project (Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on FOX), Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) goes on a blind date with Dennis, played by Kaling's former Office costar, Ed Helms. Like most scenes in this jittery show, the comedy is fast, furious and undeniably top-notch. Helms' character succinctly sums up the show's heroine:
"Carl warned me that you can be a little bit…not crazy, but…dramatic," he tells her. She immediately begins to fly off the handle in response, then catches herself and shuts up. "I just think it's really funny," Dennis says. "Because I find you so charming and down to earth."
Whether or not viewers take to The Mindy Project will come down to this: Do you consider Kaling's scheming, boy-crazy OB/GYN to be neurotic? Or really, you know, fun?
Mindy is looking for a man, and watching the show feels like speed dating (something Mindy would no doubt be great at). The jokes fly fast, and they require a passing knowledge of cultural touchstones like Katherine Heigl's movie roles, Precious' weight, and the rabid nature of Bruce Springsteen fans. If your cell phone rings, you'll miss three jokes just in the time it takes to turn the ringer off.
But the show has heart, too. Mindy's nemesis, fellow doc Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), is cruel enough to tell her she needs to lose 15 pounds. But he clearly pines for her, too, and it's sweet watching him as he tries to catch her perpetually wandering eye. And while Mindy tries her hardest to turn down poor, immigrant patients without health insurance, she keeps taking them on anyway. The black humor is edgier than the jokes on The Office, and yet The Mindy Project somehow possesses something similar to that show's soft center.
It's good to see Kaling stretch her wings after so many years as a secondary character on The Office. Whether viewers will find her crazy or charming on this new show remains to be seen.
Did you miss the premiere episode? Watch it here!