Friday, February 11, 2011
Saving the World Has Never Been This Hard: NBC Thursday Night Comedies Recapped
Anyway, enough of that — to the recaps!
Well, my resumed love affair with Community didn't last long. "Early 21st Century Romanticism" was yet another Greendale dud, to the point where I'm actually running out of ways to express my disappointment with this show using the written word — though if you could see my face, it would look like Jeff's when he noticed Chang's laundry in the dishwasher. Anyway, "Romanticism" was yet another one of those "Jeff realizes what it means to be a friend!" episodes, mixed in with some predictable Britta embarrassment (for the record, I called her lesbian friend being a non-lesbian within five seconds of her arrival), some Pierce drug addiction (what??), and some tender Troy and Abed moments. It just didn't work.
Oh, Troy and Abed — and Donald Glover and Danny Pudi: You're both so wonderful in every way possible, and yet Community constantly fails you. This show needs focus, it needs direction and it needs a true lead character. Right now, it has none of that, and the jubilant episodes from last fall are but a distant memory. Once again: What are the stakes on Community? Why are we watching the show? Where does it go from here? I'll keep asking those questions as long as they remain mostly unanswered. Remember when all those critics put Community on their 2010 Best Of lists? Har!
It looks like Alan Sepinwall got his gift basket from The Office producers. For a guy who has been unnecessarily hard on the show for a couple of seasons (a couple of its better seasons, FYI), Sepinwall has had a Dunder-Mifflin love-in recently. He called "PDA" one of the best of the season, which is actually correct — even though it's a backhanded compliment to the season as a whole. This has been a great run for The Office and "PDA" was just another in a long-line of winners.
The Michael and Holly relationship yielded predictably hilarious results. We've seen Michael in an office relationship with Jan, but it was only a one-way street; Jan didn't want any of Michael's touchy-feely overtures. Not so with Holly, who reveled in his touching, kissing, hand-holding and back-rubbing. (If Amy Ryan doesn't get an Emmy for her guest work on The Office, shut down the ceremonies; she's outstanding on this show.) Naturally, it all led to a meeting about PDA — which the impotent Gabe ran to imperfection — and the ultimate reveal about M&H: They're trying to squeeze an entire relationship in before Holly has to leave. Sadface.
Except! As Holly told Michael, Dunder-Mifflin doesn't control their love; they do. These two crazy kids just might make it, and "PDA" showed how it might happen: When Holly has to leave, Michael will go with her. The end. Ride into the sunset.
Jim and Pam don't have to worry about that fate, but they were both used to expert effect in "PDA." Drunk from a Valentine's Day lunch, I don't think either have ever been funnier. Seriously. John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer haven't been this energetic and exciting in quite some time (since their wedding?), and watching them act as both instigators and sex-crazy lovebirds was a joy. Toss in some romantic Erin/Andy moments (get them together already), some creepy Gabe stuff (he's like a young Creed), and Ryan's ridiculous bangs, and "PDA" was a wonderful. Glad Sepinwall is finally on-board here.
Parks & Recreation
Eight words: Ron Swanson with cornrows and a Kimono bathrobe. Yep, "Ron & Tammy II" was a riotous episode of Parks & Recreation. Between the reappearance of Tammy (Megan Mullally) and a callback to Burt Macklin ("My name is Burt Macklin, and I'm with the fucking F.B.I.!"), this was the type of episode that you want to show friends to get them to watch Parks & Recreation on a weekly basis.
There's a reason why P&R is the best comedy on television, and "Ron & Tammy II" illustrated it fairly perfectly. It has a HUGE heart. And you knew that already. But it gets heart out of random places. Like Chris telling April that she's really good and should take pride in herself (a moment from the funny-but-slight C-plot that really resonated); like the police chief saying Leslie gets any favor she wants because she helps people; like the look on Ben's face when he realizes Leslie was just busting balls and not actually pissed at him; like Ron and Tom having a brief heart-to-heart over tumbler glasses. This is the show of the moment because it reminds everyone that nice is cool.
Also, Ron in cornrows. "10 gallons of Gatorade and 40 pounds of peanuts for energy."
You know what's funny about 30 Rock? The jokes! (SFX: Rimshot.) No, actually, it's the pace. 30 Rock feels over before it even begins. That hurts in an episode like "Double-Edged Sword," because so much is jammed into just 22 minutes. To wit: Jack and Avery go to Canada, Liz and Carol attempt to go to Nags Head, and Tracy does some nonsense. Seriously. Having Tracy win his Oscar to complete the EGOT with such little flair was a huge, huge disappointment. I expected Tina Fey to use Tracy's Oscar run to make Mo'Nique jokes, not a Sacheen Littlefeather one.
Similarly, the Jack/Avery birthing crisis was truncated and incomplete — this despite a joke about Barack Obama's roots and Jack saying he'd love his Half-Canadian daughter like "a human baby." No, only Liz/Carol got the full 30 Rock treatment. Their delayed-on-the-tarmac antics yielded a Steve Slater joke, a gun-pulling stand-off and multiple references to The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole. (Don't expect Matt Damon to star in the next Zack Snyder crap fest.) It worked, it killed, I laughed. If I could watch the Liz/Carol stuff again, I would. The rest of the episode, not so much.
Thursday night ranks for Feb. 10
1.) Parks and Recreation (LW: 4)
2.) The Office (LW: 3)
3.) 30 Rock (LW: 1)
4.) Community (LW: 2)