So I have decided to start doing a weekly round up of the Thursday comedy shows I watch -- The Office, Community, and 30 Rock. I have been doing that sort of "ad hoc" for a while, so now I'ma gonna do it every week. I will rank them each against the others for the week.
#1 The Office - Viewing Party
OK so the thing with The Office is Steve Carrell is a great front man, but the show has a deeper bench than the '97 Bulls. The danger for many Office episodes because of this is that the Michael Scott storyline becomes too awkward or too over the top and it distracts from the other characters. This happens in the second act of the episode, with Michael's tantrum taking too much attention, but the storyline resolves itself terrifically with the reveal that Erin (who was raised as a foster child and hero-worships Michael) views Michael as her father figure. Once he realizes that, his spirits change immediately. This follows the general Michael meme that he is stupid but loving.
Also, the bits with Dwight and the baby, and Phyllis talking about human intimacy, were dynamite. Moreover, as a person who hates Glee, but is nonetheless intrigued by the idea of Glee, I love Kelly's rant against the show.
#2 30 Rock - Brooklyn Without Limits
This episode was classic 30 Rock, excelling in everything that makes 30 Rock a great show:
1) lampooning Jack's commitment to his company's political expedience (through a great guest appearance by John "Roger Sterling" Slattery)
2) likewise poking fun at Liz's knee-jerk liberalism
3) a storyline which is intrinsically female-centric (pants that make your bum look good)
4) portraying Jenna as eccentric, while not truly crazy (this is something they screwed up last year)
5) hardly any Kenneth
#3 Community - Cooperative Calligraphy
Although I generally like Community better than the other two shows, this week they had the weakest installment compared to the other two. It was still good though, with the tongue-in-cheek reference to "bottle shows" (low-cost episodes of a TV show that involve no new sets or guest stars -- term comes from the phrase "a ship in a bottle"), continuity with the rest of the series (Shirley's pregnancy scare), and some great performances. Community can't kill the goose by always doing over-the-top fantastical episodes like the paintball one or the zombie one; they need to rely on the strength of their characters and this was a pretty good way to showcase them.