TV Review: ‘Velma’ Season 1, Episode 2

by Frank Martin

The first episode of Velma more or less did its job to introduce audiences to exactly what kind of show this was going to be. It was going to take adult-oriented, witty comedy and provide a new re-imagining of classic characters from a different perspective. This involved race switching some characters and giving Velma (Mindy Kaling) a debilitating anxiety disorder that causes her hallucinations. But this doesn’t exclude it from delivering on a profound mystery. Story should still remain at the heart of this endeavor. And while it succeeds on other fronts, on this fundamental one, it flounders.

At the end of last episode, Fred (Glenn Howerton) was ruled the primary suspect in the murders, taking heat off of Velma. Meanwhile, Velma tries to look into her mother’s disappearance. This requires her getting the look at a police report from her frenemy Daphne (Constance Wu). Always the shrewd businesswoman, Daphne says she’ll sell it to Velma for $500, which causes Velma to start selling drugs quite terribly. Meanwhile, Norville (Sam Richardson) continues to try and win Velma’s affection, which ends in hilarious fashion when he found Daphne and Velma sharing a kiss in the episode’s closing moments.

The awkwardness of the hallucinations is really detrimental to the flow of the story. The sequences are great, even if it’s not a true haunting. Velma is just imagining what is happening, which downplays their role in the story. Also, the mystery is not nearly as compelling as it could be. Rather than focusing on the investigation itself, this episode dovetails into a side quest as Velma tries to earn money just to get a single clue, which Daphne already possesses. This doesn’t even take into account the police, which are purposely inept to keep the spotlight on Velma. The dialogue itself and the comedy is still on point, but if Velma is to truly succeed it needs to strengthen its other aspects.

Velma streams Wednesdays on HBO Max.

%d bloggers like this: