There’s no question that Thursday is my TV day. The DVR fires up at 8 pm and doesn’t finish recording until 12:30 on Friday. I can last for a week just on what I record on Thursdays.
The centerpiece of this weekly marathon is obviously the NBC Thursday-night sitcoms: Community, Parks and Recreation, the Office, and 30 Rock. And, on days when I can’t sit down to watch all of them, I find it really hard to decide which ones to watch. It used to be that I’d head straight for the Office and 30 Rock, but Community and Parks & Rec have really grown into strong comedies, while conventional wisdom says that 30 Rock is slipping, and sometimes the Office is just too harsh.
This constant horse-race of the four shows jockeying to be the best each week have given me the idea for a new weekly feature: Who Wins Thursday? Each week, it’s a toss-up as to which of the four sitcoms is the best. I’m determined to crown a winner each week.
And, since I can’t wait for this week’s Valentine’s Day slate of episodes, I’m going to start with last week. The rundown:
Community: Romantic Expressionism
Jeff and Brita conspire to keep Annie from dating a “gateway douchebag,” while everyone else tries to Rifftrax b-movies in Abed’s dorm. Jeff and Brita work better as co-conspirators than each others’ romantic interests. But Troy steals everybody’s thunder in both plots, trying awkwardly to seduce Annie away from Vaughn while maintaining that his relationship with Abed is totally cool.
Parks and Recreation: Sweetums
A candy company tries to sponsor Leslie’s park, and she crusades against their high fructose corn syrup and tries to get Ron to start living a healthier life. Meanwhile, Tom Haverford gets the rest of the gang to help him move out of Wendy’s house. While it does have a hilarious cameo from “DJ Roomba,” the episode’s plot feels more like a Simpsons-style corporate parody, and b-story with Tom is a downer.
The Office: Sabre
When Michael Scott has trouble transitioning to working for Sabre, the company that bought Dunder Mifflin, he visits David Wallace. The resulting misery is the Office’s bread and butter, but I still find it difficult to watch. When working at Dunder Mifflin is demonstrated to be the better of two options, nobody wins. The b-plot involves Jim and Pam in a situation where neither of them are allowed to be cute or make silly “what?” faces.
30 Rock: Verna
Jack tries to help Jenna get over her mommy issues, which somehow don’t include the fact that Jan Hooks is her mom and looks totally frightening. While they’re walking around oblivious, Liz and Frank move in together and have a Paranormal Activity-style camera set up to show how Liz eats in her sleep. A lot of it is funny, but both plots have elements that are gross and off-putting.
Who Wins Thursday? Community
This episode really plays to all of its character’s strengths. I don’t find Jeff to be as charming as the show would like us to believe, so for me it’s better to keep him down in the muck marauding around and misbehaving. But while the show keep strying to sell us Jeff, Troy is quickly becoming my personal favorite. It’d be really easy to make his character a cliché, by making him too much of a typical jock or by trying to make him “urban” or something. Instead, he’s just a different kind of nerd, and this episode really showcased that, especially in his scenes with Annie (“I have the strangest boner”) and Abed (“they’re just jealous”).