Posts filed under '30 Rock'

Who Won Thursday?

Also known as: Who Won Christmas?

Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Okay, saying that Abed sees everyone as stop-motion animated figures because of a major family disappointment is a huge, huge stretch. If that happened, I think his mental illness is more serious than anyone imagined. But, leaving that aside, I thought this was one of their “good” parody episodes. It was sweet. I liked seeing them as babies and teddy bears (Pierce squeaked when he walked!), I liked hearing them sing, and I especially liked seeing Troy and Abed switch heads at the end.

30 Rock: Christmas Attack Zone
Personally, I love Christmas. Sure, my family has had issues, but I don’t really relate to shows that are all, “Ugh, isn’t Christmas with your family just AWFUL and full of so much DRAMA?” So jokes that start from there don’t always land for me. That said, I did laugh at the way Jack interacted with his family, simultaneously resenting his mother while dismissing his father. His smile at the end was great. As were, of course, the “black swans.”

The Office: Classy Christmas
First off, let me say that, more than anything, I love the Scranton Strangler. I’m his biggest fan. I’ve enjoyed how that’s just kind of been developing in the background for the entire season. I was afraid that, after the Strangler got caught, they wouldn’t bring him up again, but he’s back! Apart from the trial, it was a really strong episode overall. When The Office was at its weakest, I missed Dwight and Jim’s antagonistic relationship. I’m glad they brought it back—and reversed, so Dwight had the upper hand. The parts with Michael and Holly, and the parts with Darryl and his daughter, made me cringe throughout, but I didn’t want to kill myself at the end. And—sorry TiFaux Sara—I like this version of Erin, where she’s missing something but isn’t incredibly stupid. My only complaint is that I get tired of The Office when it’s in its hour-long format. Even when the episode is good all the way through—which I don’t think happens a majority of the time—it still feels long and drawn out. When Michael starts misbehaving, I thought: “I don’t really think I could take another 40 minutes of this.”

So, who won Christmas?

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3 comments December 10th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

The contenders:

Community: Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design
Totally solid episode. Both the blanket-fort and the conspiracy theories were wild, out-there plots without really spoofing one specific movie, and it worked better that way (if for no other reason than there was nothing for Abed to point out, so he got to be a real character). Plus, who doesn’t like seeing Kevin Corrigan pop up anywhere? Its central weakness: It’s basically the “and that’s why you don’t teach lessons” episode of Arrested Development. There are far worse things to strive for.

30 Rock: College
For a show that’s already lean and fast-paced, how much better does it get when they decide to jettison a third plotline? Here, they just stuck to Liz and Jack—no Tracey or Jenna—and they were able to cram more jokes in by not having to do a set-up or payoff of the third plotline. Rather than giving Jenna and Tracy something to do, Liz just comes across them, sitting side-by-side on a couch, each gazing into a different hand-mirror. Genius! High-fiving a million angels!

The Office: WUPHF.com
I love Ryan. I love how he’s cycled through 10 different types of douchebags throughout the course of the show. I also get a kick out of every time someone gets a fax because of WUPHF.com. But, even more than that, I love how Michael was able to manipulate Ryan this time around—in his sad, pathetic, Michael way. I also liked Dwight’s plotline, because he was evil and curmudgeonly, but there were reasonable explanations why (for money and to heal childhood wounds), making it less cartoonish.

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced. Maybe that joke about how “Native Americans” are called “Native Americans” and not “Indians” because they find the word “Indian” derogatory would have been funnier in other hands, but it wasn’t funny here.

So, who won Thursday?

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2 comments November 19th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

It was a strong night overall, so it’s going to be close.

Community: Cooperative Calligraphy
I’d never heard the term “bottle episode” before, and I’m ambivalent about Community‘s meta-jokes in general, but I dug how craven they were about admitting they were doing a bottle episode. Mostly, I loved how, in addition to the strange contrivances they created to keep everyone in the study room, they nakedly twisted the knife by constantly calling attention to how amazing it was outside. (A puppy parade!) The ending was also really clever—they thought they were pinning the blame for Annie’s missing pen on something bizarre and impossible to save their friendship, but it really turned out to be something bizarre and nearly impossible.

30 Rock: Brooklyn Without Limits
Hot jeans visual gags aside (“I will haunt your dreams”), this episode was entirely owned by John Slattery. “I will clean up this government like the bathroom of a paintball facility.” “If you’re blind, I am the wrestler Steve Austin.” “If you’re senile, I am the Six Million Dollar Man.” “Hand me that shovel so I can dig a grave for her.” And the political ad where he comes out of the woman’s womb and then cocks a shotgun! Who says this show isn’t genius?

The Office: Viewing Party
I feel like this episode advanced a lot of the emotional storylines: with Andy and Erin, with Michael and Gabe, with Michael and Erin, with Dwight and Angela. I also love seeing Andy’s budding friendship with Darryl—and Pam’s with Dwight, too, I guess. (“Remember your concussion?”) There were a lot of sweet character moments. It just wasn’t very funny.

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced, although last night’s cold open remained novelty-free. Between that and the crotch-joke development from last week, the show may be getting better.

So, who won Thursday?

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6 comments November 12th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

All the shows were back. Hooray!

Community: The Aerodynamics of Gender
I like how, in its second season, Community is breaking the larger study group apart and exploring how the characters relate to each other in smaller segments. This episode also featured a lot of Troy, who I adore, and it didn’t end with them all vowing to be best friends forever and never do things in smaller groups again, which I appreciate. But the trampoline thing was more odd than funny until the very end, and the funniest thing about the mean-girls plot was Chang’s reaction to it.

30 Rock: Gentleman’s Intermission
First off, the phrase “gentleman’s intermission” is just hilarious by itself—that’s not really a thing, is it? Otherwise, the episode started off exploring thoroughly charted territory—didn’t Salma Hayek also find Liz an intrusion on her relationship with Jack?—but it got stronger and stronger as it went on. For another example, Tracy’s “I haven’t done anything with my life” plot felt too familiar at first—isn’t that why he created a porn video game?—but I pretty much died when his story culminated in him shouting “I left Tracy Junior in Atlantic City!”

The Office: Christening
When this episode got to the scene where Pam had to make sure that Michael knew he wasn’t the baby’s godfather, I thought we were in trouble. I wanted to turn off the TV. Turns out, it wasn’t as painful as I feared it would be. Michael was actually kind of right when he hissed at all the Dunder Miffln/Sabre people to stop being rude at the christening luncheon. (Of course, he took it too far, but no one got hurt.) And I like Jim and Pam as harried parents—it gives them something to do. When they don’t have baby conflict, it seems like they’re just hanging around the show.

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced. In the one minute picked up on my DVR, this episode started off the same way as the rest of them: one of the call center employees got caught off guard by one of the novelties they sell. (He’ll never suspect a water balloon! Classic.) But then, something totally different happened. The white guy got hit with a balloon in the crotch! (Hilarity!) Yes, they’ve moved on to crotch jokes! Now the show is at least as funny as America’s Funniest Home Videos, right?

So, who won Thursday?

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November 5th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

Let’s take a look at what happened last night:

Community: Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples
I’m worried a little bit for this show, because, between this week and last week, it’s lost its groove. Last night pushed the least funny thing about Abed so, so hard to the point that it lost sight of what it was parodying—or maybe it never really had an angle on what it was satirizing at all. It’s a shame, because Abed/Shirley episodes are rare. Then again, Pierce’s acting like a surly teenager towards Jeff and Britta was pure gold. (“Go wait in the car.”)

30 Rock: Reganing
It’s usually the third subplot that sinks a 30 Rock episode, and  I often wonder why they insist on doing them. But, when they pull them off, the whole episode comes together. Jenna and Kenneth working together completely fell flat during the episode when she was trying to get him back into the page program. Last night, it was as if they said, “Wait, we could have done it better.” And they did. Usually I have no use for Kelsey Grammer outside of Sideshow Bob, but he totally nailed his cameo. (“I’ll just need fifty dollars to get started.”)

The Office: The Sting
This episode of The Office had a few of my personal favorite things. I love it when Jim and Dwight go out on sales calls together. I love it when Michael lands a pitch/sale (because you can see how he got promoted in the first place—he actually is a good salesman). And, most of all, I love Timothy Olyphant! Squee!

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced.

So, who won Thursday?

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3 comments October 22nd, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

It was hard for me to determine who won Thursday this week, because I didn’t particularly love any of it. It’s like we’ve reached that part in the semester when the novelty of our new classes has worn off, and now the homework is starting to be a slog. Let’s take a look:

Community: Basic Rocket Science
I feel like this is what they were referring to when the creators said they wanted to do more episodes like the paintball one, but this was no paintball episode. The whole school-pride aspect of the plot felt forced, like they just wanted to give Jeff some kind of reason for a pithy speech, and I didn’t for a second believe it or believe that Annie would transfer. It was all very superficial.

30 Rock: Live Show (East Coast version)
Yes, yes. It was live. There were lots of funny only-in-a-live-episode gags (Julia Louis-Dreyfus!) and meta-live jokes. But how was it as an episode of 30 Rock? Not so great. For one thing, I found audience laughter off-putting. It really slowed down the pacing of the show. Then, did they really do an everybody-forgot-my-birthday plot? 30 Rock, you’re better than that.

The Office: Sex Ed
I can see how episodes like this are necessary to give a proper send-off to Michael Scott. It was neat to see him go back through all of his love interests, and it was a nice, meaty storyline for him. It just wasn’t very funny, and a lot of the women kept hitting the same exasperated-with-Michael beat. (Understandably, but it’s kind of a slog.) Jan’s was the only scene that was pitched differently, and that made me squirm.

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced.

So, who won Thursday?

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1 comment October 15th, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

It wasn’t the strongest of weeks for the NBC shows, but each episode did have some big laughs. Let’s get to it:

Community: The Psychology of Letting Go
Finally! A story that wasn’t “study group vs. rest of Greendale,” or “Jeff’s old life vs. Jeff’s new life.” I actually enjoyed the fact that they had petty disagreements and intra-group dynamics (like Shirley’s feeling left out) and somehow didn’t end the episode with a huge group hug. It earns extra points for that crack about Britta’s ever-so-slightly curled hair, because that always bothers me, too. But Pierce’s strange qualities, like his laser-oriented religion, seem forced and precious compared to Creed’s in The Office.

30 Rock: Let’s Stay Together
Remember what I said last week about 30 Rock getting bogged down in its insistence on having three storylines in each episode? This is what I’m taking about. The Kenneth and Jenna plot had weak, easy material for both of them that just wasn’t very funny. It’s a shame, too, since they built up Kenneth re-applying to the NBC page program so much, only to have him re-hired by Jack the way Jack offered to do last week. They didn’t really squeeze in any good jokes about it between last week and this one.

The Office: Andy’s Play
So painful! This episode didn’t reach the “Scott’s Tots” level of cringe-worthiness, but Michael’s, “what part do I play?” really twisted the knife. (Even hearing second-hand about his Law & Order audition was uncomfortable, before we see it in the credit sequence.) However, he was allowed to redeem himself with his pick-me-up speech to Andy, which made me feel better about life, and they had Erin be the correct amount of stupid this time.

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced.

So, who won Thursday?

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2 comments October 8th, 2010

Who Won Thursday? Quick & Dirty

Community: Accounting for Lawyers
What’s that? Is Jeff choosing his rag-tag study-group misfits over his glamorous lawyer life again? Come on, Community. This is season two.

30 Rock: When It Rains, It Pours
Sometimes 30 Rock gets tangled up by trying to juggle too many plotlines, but this time they all succeeded. Welcome back, Dr. Spaceman!

The Office: Counseling
The scenes between Michael and Toby were nicely done and really well-acted, but Dwight is no Pretty Woman. Still not fond of Stupid!Erin.

Outsourced
It will never be Outsourced.

So, who won Thursday?

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October 1st, 2010

Who Won Thursday?

Because…why not?

I started “Who Won Thursday,” though, because I thought that, any given week, any of NBC’s Thursday comedy lineup had a shot at offering the night’s funniest episode. That premise is no longer true.

Outsourced is not funny. Even giving it some freshmen-year leeway, it is not in the same league as the other NBC comedies.

Outsourced is dumb. Really dumb. So dumb it’s almost confusing.

Take this little exchange, for example: At one part in the show, main-dim-bulb Todd is explaining what American novelties are to his Indian staff, and why they are funny. One of the items is a mistletoe belt. Todd thinks it’s hilarious. He explains what mistletoe is. Someone on his staff asks why someone would then put mistletoe on a belt. Todd explains some more. The staffer is all, “That’s how you celebrate the birth of the son of your God?” and Todd is all offended that she doesn’t think it’s funny.

This scene leaves me with complicated feelings. Is it true that people in India don’t know what mistletoe is? I don’t know—possibly. But, once it’s explained, is it weird that the staff needs further explanations of why it’s cheeky to put mistletoe on a belt? Have they really never heard of blowjobs, either? Or was it because Todd did a bad job of explaining the purpose of mistletoe? And are they thick for not finding that sort of thing funny, or is Todd thick because he does? Who is the one that’s being made fun of in this situation? I don’t think, as the show’s creators would like you to believe, that they’re givin’ it to both sides equally. It’s just a confused, poorly written scene that’s so murky it’s hard to even pinpoint how offensive it is. But, most of all, it’s not funny. It hardly approaches funny. It can’t compete with shows that actually are. And so, I’m taking it out of the running, because I am not watching it again. (If you want more of a rant about the many failures of Outsourced, read my PopMatters review.)

Enough about Outsourced. Let’s move on to the actually good shows—all three of which posted strong premieres.

Community: Anthropology 101
Often, the fuzzy-wuzzy aspects of this show bother me, so it’s good to see the claws come out this week. And, even though the characters were being downright mean to each other, it still managed to get the most out-loud laughs all night. (Although, I admit that many of those came out during the end credits, when they were all singing Toto’s “Africa.” Man, I love that song.) Still, I could’ve done without a lot of the gimmicks: The multiple Twitter feeds, Abed’s meta-meta comments about how being meta was so last season, and the stunt-casting of Betty White.

30 Rock: The Fabian Strategy
I wish 30 Rock were still on after The Office. (That’s another thing you’ve robbed from me, Outsourced.) Like TiFaux Maggie once said, you need a 30 Rock chaser after the grimness of The Office. Then again, this time, it’s 30 Rock that feels like it has the cloud of doom hanging over its head. I know that Matt Damon’s character can’t be on the show forever–because it’s Matt-Friggin’-Damon—so the relationship with Liz is doomed to fail. For me, the whole arc is just waiting for the shoe to drop. I don’t want to become too invested, no matter how—or especially because of how—great Matt Damon is. Then again, it would open the door for a return appearance by Wesley Snipes. Gang way!

The Office: Nepotism
Mostly, I love the return of Jim the Prankster. He wasn’t the stressed-out co-boss or the put-upon new husband and father. I think it’s been a while since we’ve even seen Jim smile. (And, come on, his Peanuts dance in the beginning for-no-reason musical number was pretty great.) I also love how Jim described the prank as his Christmas present to himself. I also like how there were subtle changes since we last checked in on the Office staff: Dwight bought the building (and got drunk off a moderate amount of power, like in that Kids in the Hall sketch), and Gabe and Erin started dating. Hopefully that’ll give Gabe more to do, and not just be yet another stolen girlfriend for Andy. (Also, the show has to be careful with how they treat Erin’s intelligence. I like it when she’s goofy and naïve, but not flat-out stupid.)

So, who won Thursday?

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1 comment September 24th, 2010

Who Won Thursday: Really Long Season Finale Edition

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?

Click to continue reading “Who Won Thursday: Really Long Season Finale Edition”

4 comments May 21st, 2010

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