5 things to know before binging the final season of ‘The Kominsky Method’

Photo+Courtesy+Netflix

Photo Courtesy Netflix

DAN BUFFA, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Chuck Lorre’s “The Kominsky Method” opens its third and final season with one of its trademark scenes: inappropriate behavior at a funeral. If there’s one guy who knows how to insert kinetically funny and snappy dialogue into any type of situation, it’s the guy who brought you “Two and A Half Men,” “Big Bang Theory,” and “Mike and Molly.”

The signature blend of “The Kominsky Method” were the interactions between Michael Douglas’ Sandy Kominsky, a failed actor turned successful acting coach, and his cynical yet caring best friend, Norman (Alan Arkin), one of the best agents in Hollywood. Their witty banter was often laced with the salty yet realistic insults that longtime pals toss at each other, along with some the refreshingly earnest camaraderie created by the actors, who seemed to be playing off their screen personas. I wouldn’t classify it as the darker end of the humor meat, more like just the right dose for an addictive television show.

Netflix launched its final season on Friday. Here are a few things to know before hitting play. This is where *Spoilers* are possible, so keep that in mind. Speaking of that great friendship foundation at the center of the story, could Lorre’s show survive without it?

Where’s Norman?

Before the newest episode can age a few seconds, we are hit with the reality that Norman is gone. In typical “Kominsky” fashion, a plethora of inappropriate speeches take place at the funeral, with Douglas ranting on about how Norman wanted a Viking funeral, but Los Angeles wouldn’t allow it. More jokes and humor follow from returning guest star, Jane Seymour, and Norman’s overly dedicated assistant. Coffins are climbed on, and wills are tussled over, but what exactly happened with Arkin and the show? He only wanted to do two seasons, so Lorre and his writing team didn’t waste much time getting to that next point in Sandy’s life, throwing him a new challenge. Instead of needling his friend, Norman’s presence hangs over the new season, with a few flashback appearances.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Romancing the Stone” fans are in for a treat

While they only got a small reunion last season, Douglas and Kathleen Turner — who smoldered as a couple in the 80s with hits including the aforementioned jungle adventure — get much more screen time together this season. Turner’s ex-wife Roz returns to L.A. to figure out wedding plans for she and Sandy’s daughter, Mindy (Sarah Baker) and her much older fiance-to-be, Martin (the very funny Paul Reiser). That is mere foil for the interactions between Sandy and Roz, which rekindles the wonderful chemistry the two actors still have. It’s not exactly friendly fire at all times between the divorcees in the show, but it’s not venom being exchanged either. Some of the show’s best writing takes place between Douglas and Turner. If you missed the burns exchanged between Sandy and Norman, you’ll cherish the back and forth. At one point, when Sandy is sweating over a potential big acting break at 75 years old and she reassures him, Turner remarks, “Is this what Norman would be doing?”

The final season is six episodes instead of the usual eight

It’s not uncommon for a show’s final season to be shorter than usual. With the pandemic still raging and one of its leads leaving the show, I can respect Lorre checking down to a lesser number of episodes — unless it was Netflix’s call. Do some of the storylines get shoved a little too close together and others are streamlined? Yes, but the main idea of the third season isn’t lost due to one less hour. Think of it as “The Godfather” amount of episodes instead of a four-hour affair. There’s still enough “getting old” jokes to go around.

A little Morgan Freeman goes a long way

Along with director Barry Levinson, Freeman gets another spin as “himself,” with this appearance being especially funny due to his playing a non-binary autopsy specialist on a network show. If you don’t catch it, this is Lorre poking some fun at his episodic network television past. It also allows for a good scene between Sandy and Freeman at the former’s acting class studio.

Fun Fact

In Chapter 23 (all episodes carry chapter names and designations), Sandy and his family enjoy a viewing of Levinson’s “Diner,” a classic film surrounding a group of good friends and their interactions at a particular diner. Paul Reiser had a big part in that movie. Reiser, as Martin, watches and jokes about how he can’t even see the actors.

Does the last season fare well without Arkin?

Overall, yes. Remember, the show is called “The Kominsky Method,” which means its heart and soul revolve around Douglas’ weathered yet talented coach. What was unexpected about this season was the story thread on Sandy’s career hitting an extremely late stride. What was expected and done very well was the focus on age, and how someone’s friends and family aren’t long for this world. Without getting melodramatic and steering the show completely away from its comedy roots, Lorre managed to tell a great tale about how growing older can be bittersweet, especially when you no longer have those support systems around to help. How does one grow from the loss of a best friend? By mixing in a little more heartfelt pathos to the usual blend of dark and witty comedy, Lorre really scored.

Twenty-two episodes in three seasons, each 30-ish minutes apiece. The legacy I will take from “The Kominsky Method” is that it was an extremely well-written network-type series that reminded us how great Douglas can still be in a leading role. Few actors can handle the rapid-fire styled comic dialogue and shift easily to dramatic heavy lifting inside a scene, but Douglas can do it. He’s the real reason to watch the show, which is one of the more watchable shows available at the moment. It’ll remind you of Hollywood, good friends, family that counts and to never pass up a chance to give your best friend some trouble.

 

 

 

 

Sign up for Your Morning Light