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'Partners' recap: Terrible outfits and a year-old news story

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “The Curious Case of Benjamin Butt-Ugly” | Aired Aug 25, 2014

The Emmys were tonight, but FX probably decided the audience for that and Partners doesn’t cross over too much; hence, two new episodes still aired. I’ve been gone for the last four, and in that time, we learned more about Allen’s past, the guys tried to sue a haberdashery for racial profiling (yes, you read that right), and Marcus’s daughter, Laura, appears to have disappeared altogether.

After the first two episodes, it seemed that the quality of Partners was going to hinge heavily on the chemistry between leads Martin Lawrence and Kelsey Grammer. Unfortunately, this episode made clear that even if the leads had an ounce of chemistry (which they do not), the flat jokes and outdated writing would not allow a shred of worth to shine through this dark hailstorm of mediocrity.

The cold open has Allen and Michael mockingly narrating Marcus’s only vaguely out-of-the-ordinary morning coffee ritual (which, of course, features Martin Lawrence making his signature weird faces). Throughout this short scene, the studio audience laughs at hysterically, as if it’s the first joke they’ve ever heard—or it’s the most aspirational laugh track ever employed by a network.

Following this, Allen’s old friend, Jake, comes in to talk about divorcing his wife, Heather. He says that she must have cheated on him because they’re both beautiful and their baby is hideous. The baby is never shown, but we get a good sense of what it looks like based on the following quips: “This baby’s photo is all the birth control I will ever need.” “That’s not a baby. That’s a cross between Steve Buscemi and a hot dog that’s been boiling since 2012.” “That baby needs a burka.”

They decide to get a paternity test done, and it shows that to his horror, Jake is indeed the father. He reveals that they used a fertility clinic to get pregnant and the guys decide to go investigate. Marcus pretends he needs to test his sperm’s ability and gets put in a room that has 3-D porn (“3-D? More like double D!”). In the meantime, Allen tries to investigate the office and is accidentally mistaken for a Mr. Yamamoto (another “joke” that the studio audience members absolutely lost their minds for/got the laugh-track treatment).

For some reason, the doctor Allen talks to is a plastic surgeon, so what he’s doing practicing in a fertility clinic is unknown and unexplained. The doctor reveals that Heather was a patient of his and that she used to be cartoonishly ugly. Allen retorts, “Wait ’til Jake finds out his wife was the original ugly baby.” At this point, it becomes clear that this episode is exactly the same premise as a story that came out in China last year.

They have a meeting with Heather and Jake where she confesses to the surgery and Jake says, “At least we know the baby isn’t ugly because of me.” He’s quite the charmer. The situation makes Marcus worry that his ex-wife, Renee, was the only woman for him. To this, Marcus tells him, “Carpe scrotum, man! Seize life by the balls.” Ugh.

Other thoughts:

– An essay is waiting to be written about the wardrobe choices for Martin Lawrence in this show. He starts out wearing a red polo under a plaid wool suit jacket, looking like the drunk clown at your kid’s birthday party. He then moves on to a nice purple button-down shirt underneath a zip-up hoodie that Justin Bieber would wear out. To be a fly on the wall the day they picked those out…

– Speaking of Martin Lawrence, he is sleepwalking through this. Take a look at how he delivered, “Where would we be if Mama Lincoln had abandoned poor ugly baby Abe?” It sure looks like this is just a paycheck for him.

– The jokes in this show have fallen firmly into two categories: jokes your father would make and be the only one to laugh at (a là “What brings you here, Jake? Besides your Bentley.”) and jokes based around race (like Marcus’s response to Jake and Allen discussing sailing: “It kills me how it always comes down to that one race: Caucasian.”).

– Allen’s stepdaughter, Lizzie, popped in briefly to let use know that her mother is in the Middle East because, “they’ve spent centuries taming those things [eyebrows], because it’s the only thing that shows under a burka.”

Partners, rated TV-14, airs Mondays at 9/8C on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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