The Comeback: “Valerie Tries to Get Yesterday Back” Season 2 Episode 2 Review

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The second episode of The Comeback‘s comeback was a lot more setup for what’s to come.

We open this week with an entry on Valerie’s video blog announcing her new role at HBO, followed by her trip to the HBO offices to hash out the details of her new reality show. But there was something startling about the scene where Valerie commented on posters of classic HBO shows. While I chuckled at her saying Sex and the City was “the one that started it all” only to comment on The Sopranos with “the one that started it all, but in a different way,” it all felt a bit masturbatory. While I’m sure the real life HBO executives found many reasons to resurrect The Comeback, it’s an ugly thought to have that Season 2 may have been greenlit more as an advertisement than a piece of actual programming.

If it weren’t for Valerie mistakenly thinking Mad Men was on HBO, which is where it was originally pitched only to be turned down and picked up by AMC, the whole episode would have been a love letter to HBO. Like I said, masturbatory.

The crux of Valerie Tries to Get Yesterday Back focused on Valerie trying to win back Jane, the producer of her previous reality show. As it was alluded to in Season 1, Jane is actually now an out lesbian, having won an Oscar for a documentary she made with an ex-girlfriend about gay women in the Holocaust. Jane uses the statue as a doorstop while offering Valerie, Mickey, and the film crew some pot.

This characterization of Jane feels in line with the character, but something was missing from her interactions with Valerie. A lot of the best moments from Season 1 involved Valerie making an ass out of herself on camera thanks to Jane’s direction (“Well, I GOT IT!”). But with Jane so aloof, there isn’t much of a back and forth yet. Most of the jokes in this scene, and before it, were the same as the premiere: the film crew bumping into things and just being generally incompetent.

After Valerie convinces Jane to take her old job back, the quality in which the show is shot is noticeably better. Hopefully the young crew being out of the picture will give the writers less of a crutch to stand on for humor.

The rest of the episode dealt with Valerie and Mark going to the Golden Globes. But their invitation turns out to only be for the viewing suite, where they run into Paulie G. Mark’s disdain for the man that caused his wife so much grief is admirable. Damian Young continues to do a great job as the hands-off husband that will still stand up for his wife when she needs it.

Valerie and Paulie G.’s conversation was strange to say the least. He seems totally out of it, especially once he sees Jane, like all the bad memories surrounding Room & Bored came rushing back. After a heartfelt apology for all he had done to Valerie, he quickly leaves the suite. This scene was really the only thing didn’t feel like the stage was being set in the whole episode. While it’s great to have Jane back, Paulie G.’s scenes felt like a progress for the plot of Season 2, not just table setting.

But while Paulie G. is a clear highlight of Season 2 so far, one question remaining is where did the show’s funny bone go? Lisa Kudrow slipped back into Valerie flawlessly, but the material she’s been given is fairly empty. Combine that with an opening to heavily celebrating the show’s own savior, and this episode really leaves me wondering why we needed another season of The Comeback. After nine years of the show’s first season slowly gaining more than just a cult following, you would hope this return would offer a little more. I’m still excited for Valerie to work with Paulie G. on set again, but the series hasn’t made its comeback yet. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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