Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weekly Thursday comedy redux

OK I haven't been as diligent on this as perhaps I could have been, but here's your weekly Thursday evening NBC comedy redux:

No. 1 "The Office"

Yet again The Office steals the top spot. This unquestionably beat the rest of the shows this week, as it makes use of its remarkably deep bench of primary, secondary, and tertiary characters. Everyone had something to do but it didn't feel jammed. Further proof that the series will survive without Michael Scott, as Steve Carrell is only in a few minutes of the episode.

Great Dwight-isms ("I can't take my car - it's full of fox meat.") and a happy resolution to the Erin-hates-Holly runner before it ran out of gas.

However, this show did violate its own rule about acknowledging the presence of the camera crew: if Michael were really lost, they could have called the camera guy trailing him.

No. 2 "Parks and Recreation"

Very funny episode that plays to the show's strengths (Leslie's overeagerness, April speaking Spanish); a few good jabs at Twilight, and Leslie's great line "I'm more of a Harry Potter girl." Also I love her trying to armchair quarterback the reporter on what her headline should be ... as an award-winning small-town newspaper headline writer (cough, ahem, pats back), I got a huge kick out of it.

No. 3 "Community"

Community has been suffering from some serious sophomore slumps, with the writers demonstrating no idea what to do with about half the characters (Shirley, Pierce, Chang, and half-ways Britta). This season has featured far too much soap opera and not enough humor, and this episode is no exception.

Also, I have to point out that they wouldn't be playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. A college-student in 2011 would have been born in the late 1980s or early 1990s, after the game had switched to second edition. If he had started playing the game when he was 10 - 12, he would have played Third Edition D and D, or far more likely, Everquest.

The main problem:

This episode is about a character we've never seen before, and therefore less relevant, and Pierce is completely out of character as a selfish a-hole. (In the first season he was clueless but always avuncular.) These two problems are exacerbated by the fact that it's heavily implied that this new character is one step away from suicide. Not funny.

Chang in drow black face was funny, but that lasted about 5 seconds. Making the episode so serious made it unpleasant to watch -- it would have worked much better if it had been revealed that Jeff had played AD n D as a kid, which thing Troy and Abed stumble across and decide they should play together as part of a research project FOR THEIR ANTHROPOLOGY CLASS. That way they could have had a cameo from John Oliver, the bright spot of this season, and cut out the new character entirely. Oliver, or the Dean, could have done the voice over --- they have talented actors and should use them.

Note that this idea of mis-placed nostalgia was also a problem with the Scott Pilgrim movie: 20-somethings in 2010 would not feel nostalgia for 1980s-era video games, even though their 30-something creators would.

No. 4 "30 Rock"

Strange that an episode featuring Tina Fey tromping around in nothing but a bra wouldn't win No. 1, but the key to comedy is comedy, which this episode mostly missed. The quality of 30 Rock has been sinking like, well, a rock. Turning Jenna into a duplicate of Tracy hasn't worked anytime in the last two years that they've tried it, but that hasn't stopped them. Jack's struggle with the new corporate leadership was OK, and Avery's trying to conceal her pregnancy from a rival broadcaster was funny -- but they shouldn't be getting their best (only) laughts on an episode from a supporting character.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Astute as always, Jared!


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