Monday, October 17, 2011

Thursday shows roundup - 10/13

#1 The Office

Robert California continues to be a great addition to the line-up, and is doing a journeyman's job of filling the space left by Michael Scott. Truthfully, since the character's shtick is new, he's actually a refreshing change of pace from Michael.

The exploration of Andy's character was good too, showing some insight into the reason for the character's quirks. Also the scene with Oscar and Darryl arguing about "Citizen Kane" was terrific.

#2 Parks and Rec

This show where Leslie and Ron have competing boy/girl scout troops was a great set-up, but the execution isn't great. Having all the boys leave Ron's troop because it wasn't any fun was fine, but having Leslie throw together a pity party for him because of it was a bad way to resolve it. Instead the Goddesses should have been presented with a problem (like a fire or a bear or a malfunctioning fire alarm or anything) that only Ron could swoop in and fix. We don't want to see Ron as pitiable. He's everyone's favorite character - we want to see him as the g.d. hero.

It's ok for him to be pathetic in fish out of water scenarios (ie with his ex-wives) but not when he is in his element (ie survivalism). The lesson, particularly with the ongoing meme of the fall of men/rise of women in American society, should have been to show the value/necessity of a traditional expression of masculinity.

Far better than the A story was the B story. The bit with Ben learning to relax with Donna and Tom was a lot of fun, continued the Leslie/Ben romance-line, and smartly showed how to do nerd humor on TV. Ben's insistence that Game of Thrones will never be cancelled "because it's a cross-over hit" was more clever than anything ever done on Big Bang Theory: you can make good nerd jokes without making nerds retards.

The C story with Jerry and Rob Lowe was ok too, but more for the chance to see the two characters interact with each other rather than for the delivery of a fairly obvious punchline at the end.

#3 Community

This episode isn't terrible, but it certainly isn't great. The show is continuing to suffer from the problem of needing gimmicks to get through an episode. This episode is the antithesis of the backwards Seinfeld episode, which used the backwards gimmick to great humorous effect, but would have been a funny story even without it.

The episode also reminded me of one of the highlights of last year's season of Community, where the gang all goes a bar for Troy's 21st birthday, which consisted of a bunch of random character-based scenes without much of a connecting plot. There this narrative format worked; here it doesn't.

Since Britta smokes pot in the episode, it would have been more interesting to make that the focus, and the episode is about how she sees the world when she's tripping balls OR do more with the different timelines several months/years down the road. The "alternate timelines" thing isn't awful, but serves to actual purpose and feels more like filler than a clever storytelling device.

Plus side? No Chang. Downside? Show is still struggling to justify the existence of the Shirley and Pierce characters.

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