Friday, 21 May 2010

Comedy Tonight Last Night

In some ways, I hate the conventions of television. A middling season is passable once a series begins with a bang and closes in the same way. But, last night, I didn’t have time to think about past sins – when it came to NBC’s Thursday lineup each part of the Thursday line-up delivered episodes that were on point. Sure, many finales leave us with a sense of disaster (more on other good showings later) but sometimes nothing is more dear than a well placed laugh, and though they differed in quality I’ll admit all four shows were at their best.
I’ll admit, sometimes I feel guilty for my harshness with Community. I’m just a tough grader sometimes, and Community often gets the brunt of it. Last night’s episode was not perfect, but as a whole it was a pleasing season closer. Community has made a good first season splash. I’m not in love with it, but looking forward there are a few tweaks needed to improve the show. I’m unsurprised about Jeff and Annie (I called that way back since last year), and it rings truer than Jeff and Britta original. But interestingly, though I’ve never been a fan of Britta she seems more human after last night’s episode. But Community needs to decide if it’s a farce, or just a comedy. The highlight of the episode, interestingly was Troy and Abed, and Troy’s revelation of his friendship with Abed being like a “giant cookie” was humorously sweet. 
Parks & Recreation, though, continues to show why it’s one of the best shows on television. In an excellent episode we learn so much, all the while keeping the funny. Paul Schneider has officially left the series (although word says he may return). The Parks & Recreation office is temporarily closed due to the government overhaul. Dealing with the issue is tough for Leslie who refuses to let the children down and not give them their Freddy Spaghetti concert. Ann is meanwhile taking a break from men as Rob Lowe’s psychotic government officer keeps accosting her. And Andy and April are trying to form their own relationship. As much as I’d like to see the pairing of Andy and April go somewhere, I’m not sure I’m completely over Ann and Andy as a couple (even though it would probably be regression in both cases). But the episode’s highlight had to be Ron Swanson pleading with the officials for Leslie to keep our job. He's a strange man, but Nick Offerman plays him just perfectly. So much character development has occurred since the beginning of the season and the series just keeps getting better and better.
Kathy Bates returns on The Office. I’ve never been a fan of her appearances, but she excels in this particular episode – especially in a poignant (but still, oddly hilarious) tête-à-tête with Michael. The writers have found a way to make Michael funny without exploiting him and Carrell is doing some excellent work. I really hope he gets that Emmy, though I know it’s foolish. B. J. Novak continues to deliver in five seconds what most actors can’t do with five minutes, and though I hate her character, Phyllis continues to deliver excellent line readings defying conventions of fat persons being jolly. It seems as if we may be getting some of the lovely Amy Ryan back as the episode closes with the possibility of her return.I'm neither here nor there on Andy's involvement in the plot, but his exit after his cute moment with Erin was nicely done even though they'll never be as great a couple as Kelly and Ryan (the best duo of the show).

And, 30 Rock...30 Rock. It’s a show that have I issues with, unlike some, but as is often the case it follows a fair season with an excellent closer and the finale was just excellent. I feel slightly for Wesley (played to perfection by Michael Sheen) but Matt Damon was on point throughout the entire episode – like the entire cast. It’s weird, the episode was excellent even though I’m still annoyed that Tina may not know what to do with Jenna anymore. Jane Krakowksi continues to deliver excellence, but Jenna has turned into less of a character and more of an afterthought though. But that, slight issue, was the only wrong turn. Like Amy Ryan on The Office last year, Julianne Moore was a delight on the small screen (but in a different register). I’m sad to see her go, but it was inevitable. There’s no telling what will happen next season, Matt Damon and Elizabeth Banks can’t become series regulars, can they? Will Kenneth really leave? But as a standalone episode, it was brilliant.
Community, "Pascal's Triangle Revisited": B+
The Office, "The Whistleblower": A-
30 Rock, "I Do Do": A-
Parks & Recreation, "Freddy Spaghetti" A
I can’t choose my favourite scenes, too many come to mind. Seeing Rashida Jones and Chris Pratt reminisce on their characters past was a nicely touch on Parks & Recreation and Leslie’s return at the end to face off with Ben was well played. And though Jeff and Annie’s final kiss was a bit too on the nose it still was sweet. Kathy Bates with Michael was hilarious, while the banter with the IT guy was a highlight especially when Jim couldn’t remember his name. But I guess, I’d have to give it Kenneth’s drunken tirade. The biggest laugh of the entire two hours. What a closer!
Did you watch the lineup last night? Were you as unabatedly impressed?


Simon said...

Community makes me smile. Loved parks & Rec too.

Robert said...

I need to start watching Community! Thanks to yours and Simon's recommendations. But this whole lineup is full of shows I need to start watching. When you said "Julianne Moore" and "30 Rock" last week, I watched that show for the first time and loved it so...yeah. :P

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon depsite my issues, it does make me smile always.

robert YAY. taking over the world one at a time:) i'm glad you did.