Comedy Bang! Bang! episodes can be remembered almost like Friends titles. There’s “The One Where They Go Back in Time,” or “The One That Ends With the Prom,” or “The One Where Lil Jon Is Surprisingly Great.” But after “Skylar Astin Wears Blue Jeans and Weathered Brown Desert Boots,” I couldn’t find the thing that made the episode memorable. “Skylar Astin” has a bunch of fun little skits, but it doesn’t feel like anything more.
“Skylar Astin” comes off last week’s Colin Hanks episode, a high-concept installment that broke down the usual outline of the show and tried some even crazier-than-usual elements. “Skylar Astin” returns back to the usual formula—which I find to actually be a good thing for the show—yet unfortunately absent of anything that’s especially funny.
I’ve often stated that Comedy Bang! Bang! doesn’t really need a strong hook to an episode, but “Skylar Astin” might be the exception to the rule. What starts off as a good idea—Scott must pass a big midterm or he’ll be kicked off the show—should be a great landscape for plenty of teen comedy tropes, but instead it turns into Scott and his tutor, the Network President’s daughter Isobel, trying to hide their budding romance.
I think that’s the biggest disappointment here. All of its various elements are pretty good, but they had the potential to be great. Skylar Astin is incredibly enjoyable, especially when he’s crooning “Ba-Ba-Black Sheep” or saying that he’s really only eight years old. He’s also quite good with Forsythia later in the episode, but I think the guests are becoming increasingly less important to the show as a whole.
Speaking of Forsythia, Lennon Parham as the easy listening DJ is the closest “Skylar Astin” gets to great, as she reads out her strange listener dedications. Her dedications get increasingly strange, starting with a girl who goes down on a DJ for free kamikaze shots, leading up to “Scott Awkwardman” complaining that his mom is upset he uses his discretionary spending when buying crickets for his pet gecko. Parham is fantastic with weird characters (if you’re not listening to the podcast “WOMP It Up!” rectify that problem immediately) and it’s always fantastic to watch a character and Scott break at the ridiculousness of their jokes.
“Skylar Astin” is slightly disappointing in that the great supporting characters we get don’t have much to do. Haylie Marie is fine as Isobel, but a lot of her bit’s funniest parts are due to Scott. Myq Kaplan shows up as a visual effects artist who loves Scott’s jokes about kangaroos. Rich Sommer makes an appearance in Scott’s new show “The Maker-Upper,” where Scott pretends to be a medium (who is really just making shit up), but his time on screen is far too short. Even the great Marc Evan Jackson shows up at the end of the episode to mention that Scott failed the midterm, but besides a dig at Obama, he also doesn’t get enough attention in the episode.
“Skylar Astin” isn’t a bad episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!—not at all—but like last week’s episode, it never goes much beyond the point of being just enjoyable.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.