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Friday, January 28, 2011

Comedy Night Done Right

It’s just too daunting to review all the NBC comedies that I watch on Thursday night, even if I do skip two of the six half-hour blocks. (I watched the preview episode of Perfect Couples in December but only made it three minutes into the official premiere, and my views on Outsourced are well known by this point.) So I thought I’d offer brief thoughts in one cover-all post. In order, then:

-Community: I’ve seen complaints that this episode was somehow “stale” and “sitcommy”, the latter of which should no longer be allowed to appear in writing about television. Personally I loved the story structure of Pierce’s need for attention and immaturity made him a hit with the middle-school audience, completely thwarting Annie’s anti-drug play. I also appreciated the sight gag of Jeff and Britta in leather jackets and cat ears. And Chang finding a way to step up when the situation called for exactly his type of alienating insanity? Comedic brilliance. Yeah, there was little Abed and practically no Troy, but it was fun to see a Pierce-Annie storyline. There was a tad too much creepiness in the Britta’s nephew plot, but I admired the show’s boldness in not pulling up but going all the way through with a risqué and taboo joke.

-The Office: Michael Scott met David Brent, so now everyone can shut up about that, I guess. I did love the sly reference in Brent asking Scott if there were any open jobs at his company. The rest of the show was what the Office has become these days, a mixed bag of decent gags, cringe-worthy Michael moments, and a useless Jim-Pam storyline. The reveal on Jim’s distress was a major disappointment. I feel like there’s something extremely dispiriting in the tone the writers have taken with Pam and Jim. It’s like they resent them for being happy, and are making them bland and uninteresting on purpose. Only thing I really liked was the Scrabble plot, where Gabe is an unthinking ass, and Andy proves his worth.

Parks and Recreation: Definitely the most deserving of a full review. Lots going on here, with major developments in three separate romantic entanglements. That’s a lot of inter-office romance, and it may soon bog down the show, but it’s a fun ride while it lasts. Has Rob Lowe always been this funny? His two-word pep talk in the mirror was awesome. It was nice that the show let Leslie knock the speech out of the park, despite how funny it always is when she gets loopy and starts rattling off lists. April tormenting Ann was worth it for the payoff of Ann finally breaking as soon as her shift ends.

30 Rock: I love that this show, which could probably use the ratings bump, didn’t actively promote Robert DeNiro’s cameo because it was so much funnier as a surprise. I hope Bobby gets to use that Cockney accent in a movie someday. So much else to appreciate as well, from the meta-humor of Liz being able to say “fart” at 10 to her and Tracy singing their argument to the tune of Uptown Girls so it can’t be used on TV.

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