Who Won Thursday: Really Long Season Finale Edition

Posted by Marisa May 21st, 2010 at 10:04am In 30 Rock Community Parks and Recreation The Office Who Won Thursday?

Let’s go out with a bang, shall we? Verbosity here will hopefully make up for all the quick and dirty weeks.

Community: Pascal’s Triangle Revisited
I’m getting the sense that I liked this episode more than most. And, surprisingly, it had little to do with Troy eating his big cookie (which I loved). Sure, it boiled down to a love polygon, which is never my favorite part of any show. (I’ve heard lots of complaints that Jeff isn’t such a catch that two girls should be fighting over him—but to me that’s true-to-life. There are lots of girls out there that have mind-boggling crushes on guys who are no big deal—especially if they know other girls are into him. And Brita is no prize, either.) But I love how the show subverted its own love triangle by having Jeff kiss someone else entirely—and someone I personally like better than either Britta or Slater. (Hooray for uptight brunettes!)

As a finale, I think it did a fine job. There’s something to wonder about over the summer, but it’s not something huge or earth-shattering like a pregnancy or marriage proposal. Plus, they managed to avoid the temptation of ending on a sticky-sweet note, like Abed’s turning off the lights for a sense of finality. The last episode did nothing to reaffirm all their friendships, which was a relief.

Parks and Recreation: Freddy Spaghetti
It’s astounding how much Parks & Rec feels like it knows exactly what it’s doing. Towards the end of the season, it brought in two new characters, and nails exactly what’s funny and likable about each of them. They didn’t have to spend any time figuring out what to do with them. Rob Lowe had two fantastic scenes of upbeat positivity followed by pawning all the bad news off on Adam Scott. It was funny both times.

For being the final episode of the season, it did almost too good of a job. I can’t believe I might have to wait until midseason to find out what happens next. I want the government up and running again, because that’s what the show is about, but I’d be sad to lose Adam Scott and Rob Lowe.  I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I guess I’ll just hope for a swift death to Outsourced.

The Office: Whistleblower
There were some moments, but the second half of this season has really run out of steam. I chuckled at Ryan’s “Woof,” and Andy’s Woody Guthrie song, but nothing really made me guffaw—and there wasn’t anything really emotional in this episode, either, to take the place of the laughs. I’m intrigued at the idea of Holly returning, but other than that, it seemed like a weird note to end the season on. Michael and Jo went to her private jet for what reason, now? Did they even go anywhere?

30 Rock: I Do I Do
For a comedy that butters its bread with slapstick comedy and wacky situations, I’m really surprised at how restrained they were with Liz’s whole three-wedding dilemma. I thought it’d be one of those sitcom moments where she had to keep changing dresses in the cab. (Oh wait. That actually happened in 27 Dresses. Man, I wish I didn’t know that.) Wesley Snipes was delightfully weaselly as always, Elizabeth Banks had some great moments (her “Overshop” commercial being one of them), Matt Damon had some excellent pilot jokes (and dance moves), and they used Kenneth and Jenna the exact right amount. This is also probably the best of the finales, too, since they wrapped up the season-long arcs about Jenna, Liz, and Jack pretty nicely and without too much hand-wringing.

So, the tough question. Who won Thursday?

Photo by: Byron Cohen/NBC

Parks and Recreation

It was a tough call between Parks and 30 Rock. And no, this time I wasn’t won over by Ron’s delighted faces at the government shutdown (though I appreciated their return). I just thought they handled everything about the episode really well. I love Rob Lowe’s creepy pointing, Ron Swanson’s slide across the park, Andy’s manic bike accident, and even Adam Scott’s hangdog character. I like how everything ended in the pit—with Mark saying he liked it better when it was a pit—and that moment between Mark and Leslie was a very sweet way to end the season.

Really, I could make just as strong a case for 30 Rock. I just know that things won’t work out with Matt Damon—because he’s Matt Damon—and Liz will be back in should-I-settle mode, so I’m going to spend the summer waiting for the other shoe to fall.

So, how did this season fare across the board? Since I’ve been doing “Who Won Thursday,” Community has won the title five times, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock have each won three times, and The Office only brought it home once. That’s surprising to me, because Community is not my favorite show of the bunch. It’s still inconsistent, and in-between the great episodes there are others that fall flatter than any of the other NBC comedies. (Mostly because the creators really seem to enjoy some aspects of the show that I find grating, like explicitly stated pop culture references. It’s much funnier to leave those unsaid.) Parks and Recreation, on the other hand, really figured out how to fix some of its own problems, brought the ensemble to the forefront in a brilliant way, and now can add in or sub out some of its moving parts without breaking stride. 30 Rock still has the strongest gag-writing of all the shows, and even though it started off the season on shaky footing I think it found a balance between funny jokes and real-life character situations at the end. And, well, The Office did the opposite, getting weaker as it went on this season. I wouldn’t mind if they started wrapping that show up.

Stay tuned for next season, which will feature three funny shows and one half-hour about how Indian names sound silly!

4 Comments

  • 1. jesse  |  May 21st, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I think your math is actually slightly off on Community — I was looking at your old posts, and it looks to me like the recap of the week with the paintball episode of Community somehow posted twice (non-sequentially), so I think it actually had four wins, not five (although it seems fitting that the paintball ep would be counted twice since everyone loves it so much). So Community still had the most, but just barely edged out P&R and 30 Rock.

    If it were me, because I am a super nerd, I would go back and retro-actively figure out which episode I liked best on the other Thursdays before the column started, and see if the figures were any different — especially because Community was a little weaker early going, as was 30 Rock this year, and The Office had one of its all-time bests (the wedding) in the first month back. Of course, at that time 30 Rock hadn’t started yet and they did a few SNL Thursdays, so it would be difficult to tally.

    But anyway, I’m not just saying this because I agree that Parks & Rec is the actual best. But I do. God I love that show.

  • 2. Marisa  |  May 21st, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I remember having problems with the paintball post. Thanks for figuring that out. I feel better knowing that all of them were more-or-less even, with the Office lagging behind. That’s how I feel about this whole season.

  • 3. Nathaniel  |  May 21st, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Jesse, I actually started an Excel document last night to figure out exactly what you were describing (also started toying with individual grades and figuring out a way to weight them to make up for the weeks where all four didn’t have an episode in competition).

    And I wasn’t all that surprised to see that you’d changed your mind about the ranking, but that’s because I think it was pretty much a dead-heat last night with the exception of The Office (which it sounded like I still enjoyed more than you, but was still a clear fourth for the night).

    Super-bummed that they’re breaking up their line-up in the fall because this was an excellent year for Thursday night comedy. We don’t have to watch Outsourced just because it’s on Thursday, do we?

  • 4. jesse  |  May 22nd, 2010 at 1:27 am

    I will need to watch an episode or two of Outsourced so I feel informed when I call for its cancellation. And I’ll watch another lame-looking NBC comedy because it co-stars Olivia Munn. But you’re on thin ice, NBC.


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