Anyway! Enough of that — let's go to the recaps.
Whatever problems Dan Harmon has created during the second season of Community — the Chevy Chase thing was worse than ever in "Intro to Political Science," which we'll get to shortly — giving us "Magnitude" (short for "Magnetic Attitude") has been a stroke of genius. Screw Starburns and the Dean; Magnitude comes to the show with a ready made catchphrase and a ridiculous smile. Pop, pop!
As for "Political Science," well, it was good. Solid. Funny even. Forgiving the fact that the script for the episode felt like it was written in 2008 — the Barack Obama/John McCain presidential race reborn as Magnitude/Leonard — things happened with the good characters: Jeff and Annie had a legitimate heart-to-heart, while Troy and Abed did their Troy and Abed thing. Hooray! (Though, demerit: That Jeff called Annie a "kid," thus sinking any future Jeff/Annie relationship for the audience — because, gross — is a debt that will likely be paid later this season; one step forward, one step back.)
Which brings me to Pierce. Last week, everyone who writes about television wrote about Community's "Chevy Chase Problem." The problem is that he's a dick. And this episode did nothing to cure that. For starters, Pierce/Chase was out of the hospital — and rehab?!??! — and back at the study table. Because after Jeff almost beat him to death last week, of course he would welcome Pierce back with open arms! There was also the matter of his attitude, which hadn't changed at all; he wasn't destroying a fellow group member this time, just some random Greendale student with an overbite who didn't give him a pencil. It wasn't funny, it wasn't important and, again, it made no sense that anyone in the study group would accept his behavior. Not even getting that pencil stabbed into his face could give him a proper comeuppance.
Here's the thing: Harmon and Community want it both ways. They want the show to be a wacky, barely-tethered-to-weekly-continuity romp, yet they also want things to have stakes. (See: Shirley getting pregnant during the zombie attack.) Right now, Community is trying to live in both worlds, and it's failing. Twice. If you want to know why this season has been weak, that's the reason.
That said, "Intro to Political Science" was a good episode with plenty of season one flair. And the Abed/Secret Service Agent subplot was adorable. And Troy was amazingly funny. And the ticker on the bottom of the screen was great, and promised a "western themed" picnic at the end of the season. Sign me up for that.
To be honest, I was slightly disappointed in "Todd Packer." Don't get me wrong: This was a funny episode of The Office, highlighted by some wonderful Jim/Dwight moments that recalled the halcyon days of the series from seasons two and three. But being a David Koechner fan — and being a fan of his chauvinistic Todd Packer — this one could have been better.
It's nitpicking, of course. Let's face it: "Todd Parker" included the aforementioned Jim/Dwight stuff, some wonderful Andy/Pam moments, some wonderful Pam solo moments, and Erin flipping out about Dwight's ant farm. Also, Gabe fell in the shower.
The problem with "Todd Packer," was that it was redundant. If this is the end run for Michael Scott, we need to see him mature. And he has matured. During "Threat Level Midnight," Michael went from needy, petulant child, to adult male who realized his once important dream was silly and outdated. The same thing could be said about Michael's relationship with Packer. Unfortunately, we've already seen multiple examples of Michael having trouble with Todd and realizing he's sort of a douche bag. (Remember when he took a dump in Michael's office?) Michael just seemed a little too dense about Packer's awful flaws. No matter, he came around at the end, and Todd was shipped off to Tallahassee.
Elsewhere: Let's hear it for Jenna Fischer and Pam! The "Pam as office manager" plot hasn't really taken off, but this episode did well to remind everyone of her position, while simultaneously showing a different side of her. Pammy's corrupt, yo. This bodes well for the future.
Parks and Recreation
"That sounds gross." Read those three words. They don't look all that funny. When you read them out loud they don't sound all that funny. And yet when Ben uttered them about the Tommy-tini (vodka with lots of cinnamon), it was literal LOLZ in Apartment 1R. This is why Parks and Recreation is the best comedy on television: Because Adam Scott is the sixth lead on the show, and he's one of the funniest actors on earth. Funny enough to turn three little words into the best joke of the night.
"Indianapolis" was a strong P&R episode. We found out Chris and Ann broke up, Andy and April are dating for real, and Ron loves his steak. Also, everyone sneaky loves Ben. That was all great, but the reason "Indianapolis" was the best NBC comedy of the night (spoiler alert) was Tommy Fresh. Creator Michael Schur is great a plumbing depth and pathos from unexpected places, and he did that once again with Tom. We've seen some torment from Tom this season, but the heartbreak of getting his awful-smelling fragrance crapped on by Dennis Feinstein was a true setback. Credit to Aziz Ansari for selling Tom's pain, and credit to the show for not trivializing it — even though it was about something that smelled like teriyaki and burnt hair. Parks and Recreation has plenty of cartoony aspects, but at its core it might be the most human show on television.
Another "just missed" episode. The idea of 30 Rock and Tina Fey taking on Jezebel, Olivia Munn, the infantilization of women and oceanography sounds great on paper, but in practice "TGS Hates Women" kind of dragged through obvious punchlines and set-ups. And yet! Liz chastised the over-sexed, baby-voiced comedy writer Abby
[*Jenna on the last name Grossman: "It's a little bagel-y." Never change, 30 Rock.]
Thursday night ranks for Feb. 24
1.) Parks and Recreation (LW: 1)
2.) Community (LW: 3)
3.) The Office (LW: 2)
4.) 30 Rock (LW: 4)