Archive for March, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

It was a tough call this week, but there can only be one winner. The shows:

Community: “The Science of Illusion”
The thing about Community is that there’s so much going on, and I enjoy a lot of it, but I also dislike a lot, too. It all gets mashed together into one episode, so it’s hard to figure out how I feel about the episode as a whole. In this case, of course I loved Pierce’s subtle transformation into the Cookie Crisp wizard and the admission that Britta is kind of a drag. I also really appreciated Annie and Shirley’s buddy-cop movie. But Abed’s running commentary on the whole thing really sunk that half of the episode. We can get that they’re making fun of buddy-cop-movie tropes without him telling us. Explaining a joke makes it less funny.

Parks and Recreation: “Summer Catalogue”
Parks & Rec is better than The Office for me because it does a better job of balancing out discomfort with sweetness. In this case, Leslie’s meeting with the other parks commissioners was hilariously uncomfortable in the vein of an Office episode, but the whole thing ends with Leslie and Ron’s life-affirming breakfast-for-dinner. (How great was it when Ron was cranky because he was hungry?) Also, I dig that April an Andy ended up on the cover of the catalogue. Awwww. But they’re sure taking their time with the Anne/Mark breakup, aren’t they?

The Office: “Happy Hour”
This is my favorite kind of Office episode: The kind where everybody gets together to go do something. You get to spend enough time with all the characters so that they each get one or two good jokes in, and they’re always the funniest when they’re getting on each other’s nerves. Then again, I asked TiFaux Jesse to turn this episode off halfway through. I couldn’t handle “Date Mike…nice to meet me.”

30 Rock “Floyd”
As much as I love seeing Jason Sudeikis act drunk—and Jack McBrayer do nightmarish sexy dances—this episode just wasn’t as tightly packed with jokes as last week. I completely forgot that the robot street performer was still on the show. They seem to only trot him out when they need someone to get jealous, but I don’t really know who’d be jealous of a Canadian robot street performer. Plus, the whole thing with Liz and Floyd was a one episode re-tread of their whole relationship. (He makes her crazy and things don’t work out.) It didn’t really advance their story at all.

So, who won Thursday?

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7 comments March 26th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

The question on everyone’s minds. Let’s get to it.

Community: “Beginner Pottery”
I dig it when Jeff goes crazy. Really, I do. The show does a great job of exposing the hypocrisy of being too good for community college—at first, it seems Jeff is just jealous that someone is putting in less effort and is getting more attention than he is, but it turns out he really cares about beginner pottery (and I love, love, love the dark turn they gave that at the end with the voiceovers). I wish they pulled back the curtain on Britta’s  activism that way—I still feel like I don’t know who she is at all, and I was shocked this week when she mentioned that she’d never gotten an A before. Why hasn’t she? I wish I knew. The subplot with the boat was mostly hilarious, but once again boiled down to a “we’-re-all-good-friends” message.

Parks and Recreation: “Park Safety”
Wow, something took its mean pills last night. Yeah, it’s funny when they’re mean to Jerry, but I can’t take too much of that all strung together. Even when they were trying to be nice to him—and not laugh when he said “twout,” for example—it was done in such a snickering and pitying way that it went back to being mean again.

The Office: “New Leads”
This episode was interesting in that it kind of acknowledged how much things have changed on the show. Dwight isn’t Michael’s lackey anymore, Jim has gone from being aloof and above it all to part of the corporate machine, etc. It was nice that they mostly addressed these changes. I’m not liking the direction that Andy and Erin are going in, though. I loved Erin when she first started—she seemed odd in that she was so eager to please Michael no matter what he asked her to do, but that he was the one putting her up to it. Now it seems like she’s not just a sweet person catering to Michael’s whims—she’s actually coming across and dim and weird. She’s rivaling Creed in her disconnect from reality.

30 Rock: “Don Geiss, America, and Hope”
Back to basics: Liz is unlucky in love and thinking about settling, Jack Donaghy struggles to be a Master of the Universe, Tracey is worried that his reputation will become too vanilla. The good news about the show sticking with its roots, though, is that its roots are what it does best. (Except for that “porn for women” thing. That was lame.) I particularly loved the adversarial dates that Liz goes on with Wesley. (Snipes!) Most women I know find Britishisms charming, so it’s hilarious to me that Liz is so turned off by them. (“Gang way for the foot cycle!”)

So, who won Thursday?

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2 comments March 19th, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 17

Jude Law’s second time hosting SNL felt a little light on material. Not, to my surprise, in the usual manner of this season, where half the sketches or more are recurring bits and characters. In fact, tonight only featured two such sketches, and one, the game-show parody “Secret Word,” is relatively reasonable on the SNL repeatability scale. (The return of Fred Armisen’s awful stenographer character tested my SNL completism, as I took advantage of my late watching to fast-forward the hell out of that shit.)

No, what made the show feel thin, I think, was its four different non-live bits: two funny fake ads (one of which I sort of assume was held from another episode, since they haven’t done a proper fake ad in several weeks); another Digital Short that was really a music video for a song already released on the Lonely Island’s Incredibad album last year; and a semi-inexplicable rerun of the (hilarious) “Under-Underground Rock Festival” ad, a longer segment than usually gets re-used. On their own, these segments were funny. So close together, though, they came off as filler.

There were also two bits built around Law’s run as Hamlet on stage last year, the monologue and the audition sketch; and two sketches built around old TV, the aforementioned “Secret Word” and a Twilight Zone riff. None of these were too terrible, and in fact the silly Twilight Zone sketch that put Jude Law into the famous “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode with Bobby Moynihan as a mischievous though not particularly destructive gremlin was quite funny. I also enjoyed the odd Vicky Cristina Barcelona semi-spoof, with Jude Law playing a charming Spanish man promising two girls a weekend of beautiful scenery, great food, lovemaking, and murder by poison, and “Talk Show with Ravish,” in which a young Indian boy is pressured to host a talk show rather than become a doctor.

But the good stuff was oddly centerless; while the last two episodes swung wildly between repeat-sketch hackery and oddball invention, this one felt more like an odds-and-ends compilation. Law was funny, but due to the show’s odd pacing and wealth of pre-taped material, he disappeared for long stretches. Further contributing to the unevenness, we saw lots of the featured players, particularly the wonderful Bobby Moynihan, as well as Hader and Kenan, but very little Forte, Samberg, or Sudeikis. Armisen turned up a few times, but mostly sleepwalking. I wonder if they’re subtly preparing for the fact that Armisen and Forte, at least, seem primed to leave the show soon, while Moynihan and the new girls all seem due for a promotion. As much as I adore Forte and admire Armisen, that may be for the best. SNL in 2010 hasn’t been awful (in fact, the Jon Hamm episode was the season peak so far), but by and large, they seem to be stuck in a rut.

Episode Grade: C+

March 14th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

Competition was fierce this week, but there can be only one winner.

Community: Basic Genealogy
Usually, I dig how this show is warmer and fuzzier than the others. This week, though, the you’re-a-great-friend-no-YOU’RE-a-great-mom thing was too much even for me. And how many episodes can end at school-wide dances?

Parks and Recreation: The Possum
I could endlessly re-watch Andy tackle the possum—the sound he makes is just incredible. Also, Ron gets to try out his entire repertoire of angry faces when Mark doesn’t think his workshop is up to code.

The Office: St. Patrick’s Day
I love when the show has moments that feel like Classic Office. Megadesk is certainly one of those. The rest of it—Jo keeping them all late on St. Patrick’s Day—feels like a classic Office situation, but they didn’t really manage to wring enough jokes out of it. But, hey, it ends with the return of Todd Packer!

30 Rock: Future Husband
If you had to make me choose between John Hamm and Michael Sheen as hypothetical future husbands, I’d pick Michael Sheen. 30 Rock always wins Emmys for its guest stars because it seriously gets the best guest stars. Elizabeth Banks is still tearing it up, too. And I like how this episode picks up immediately where the last one left off, with a waffle in the DVD player.

So, who won Thursday?

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3 comments March 12th, 2010

Monday Morning Quarterback: SNL Season 35, Episode 16

When an actual real-deal comedian hosts Saturday Night Live, for me, expectations shift. When you’re dealing with, say, Jennifer Lopez, or even someone you might sense is funny but isn’t really known for comedy like Jude Law, their job as a host is more to be game and comfortable, not necessarily to produce top-tier comedic work (hosts like Scarlett Johansson or Joseph Gordon-Levitt get bonus points when they seem to actively dig into their characters and enjoy themselves). But when Steve Carell or Paul Rudd host, or a former cast member like Will Ferrell or Tina Fey drops by, the possibilities seem purer; the host should be able to hit the ground running and do pretty much whatever everyone decides is hilarious.

Of course, Zach Galifianakis is more of a stand-up comedian than an actor, despite his good work in the otherwise overrated The Hangover. But a lot of SNL folk have come from stand-up over the years, and it’s always a treat to get a monologue from an actual comedian. This episode, featuring a longish bit of stand-up from this Comedian of Comedy, was no exception. Apparently a lot of this material came from his stand-up routine, but whatever, I hadn’t seen most of it and it was funny.

After that, though, the show went wildly uneven, even for an SNL episode. The material oscillated strangely between the kind of Galifianakisified stuff you might expect when a beloved, cultish comic hosts, and a mild Galifianakis touch on the kind of tired, plug-em-in recurring crap that would be better suited to a model, or an athlete, or an athelete-slash-model.

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March 7th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

So, the Olympics are over—NBC comedies are back! The question resurfaces: Who won Thursday? Let’s take a look at last night’s episodes:

Community: Physical Education
Abed’s constant pop-culture references are the center of the story instead of a commentary on the action when he tries to impress a girl by trying out some famous personas. I don’t watch Mad Men, so his Don Draper seemed a little shaky to me, but he does do a good impression of Joel McHale.

Parks & Recreation: Woman of the Year
The relationship between Leslie and Ron is quickly becoming one of my favorite things about the show, and I was pretty pleased with the way he spent the first half of the episode needling her, and the second half of the episode supporting her. The “lesson” he was trying to teach her, though—that awards are meaningless—was a little weak. This episode also featured some nice moments with TiFaux Dan’s Crush of the Moment, who is in a band that is no longer called Mouse Rat.

The Office: The Delivery Part 1 + 2
OMG it’s a baby girl SQUEEEEEEE! Even though this episode was obiviously all about Jim and Pam, there were lots of good bits with the other characters, like Michael throwing the keys to Jim’s car away, or Kevin’s “Ultrafeast,” or Dwight’s remodeling of Jim and Pam’s kitchen.

So, who won Thursday?

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1 comment March 5th, 2010

Chris Pratt: Stealth hottie

There’s plenty of hotness on NBC’s Thursday night lineup.

You could relish the sardonic smirk of John Krasinski on The Office. You could fancy the wonderful abdominal muscles of Joel McHale on Community (did you see last night’s underwear pool?). And on 30 Rock… well, there’s not a whole lot going on there, except for when they bring out Jon Hamm and his amazing jaw.

But one highlight of my Thursday night is always Chris Pratt’s portrayal of Andy on Parks and Recreation. Pratt plays Andy as not only doggishly loyal, but also doggishly stupid and doggishly adorable.

From what I understand, Chris used to be on Everwood when he was probably a good 30-40 pounds lighter. In fact, take a look at him when he was everything you’d expect the star of a CW drama to be — mop-topped, supple-skinned and just pretty enough to make it hard to take him seriously.

Now there’s the Chris Pratt I know in love. Essentially, take what you saw on Everwood — add marijuana, subtract a daily treadmill regimine, add scruff and raise the whole thing up to an exponent of earnestness. The current Pratt is a hundred times more appealing, with his approachable and affable personality and bearish physique.

Clearly, I have no point in writing this post other than relaying a fangirl crush, but I’d like to promote Mr. Pratt as one of network television’s most crushworthy actors. And I’d like to state for the record that I’m much more drawn to the simple and charismatic Andy over any gym-toned TV doctor on ABC.

A clip:

March 5th, 2010

OK Great!

OK Go–the treadmill people for those of you who haven’t been a fan since before their first real album and don’t have a personal check from the band’s merch guy that you never cashed because you thought it might be worth something some day, the way your uncle’s Beatles talcum powder is–has put out a new video.

You’ve probably heard about this video already, even if you what you heard wasn’t exactly about this video. Instead, you’ve probably read the argument that the label shouldn’t allow the video to be embedded because band would make more money if you watched the video on YouTube instead of here, and the counter-argument that people would only want to watch the video on YouTube if it became an embeddable, viral sensation in the first place.

That’s all old news, though, so let’s forget about it. Instead, let’s just watch the video. Because it is AMAZING. Even if you don’t accept the face-value whimsy, it’s fun to dissect it and figure out where there might be hidden cuts. I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter if there’s some video trickery, it’s still endlessly entertaining. The song is good, too.

March 2nd, 2010


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