For the last few years, I’ve adored NBC’s comedy lineup for Thursday nights: “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Community” are my favorites. Others come (“Whitney”) and others go (“Perfect Couples,” “Outsourced”), but my main four have been reliable(ish). “Community” is the youngest of the bunch, just starting its third season, and “The Office” has had a rocky path over the years. However, Thursday shows are (mostly) back, and I can’t wait to talk about them. If you have not watched the new episodes yet, please be aware of this SPOILERS ALERT!!!!!
Community 8/7c “Biology 101”
I feel like “Community” is best described as “Glee” on NBC, without the singing, or the high school, or the overly-ambitious children that have a seemingly magnetic pull to slushies. However, “Community” is a campy-good time with ‘token’ characters, extreme stereotypes and so much pop culture it’s practically Entertainment Weekly. And for the premiere, it even has singing. Yes, the show opens with a lovely tune to spread the message that Greendale Community College will be “just fine” this semester.
We pick up from last season, where Pierce officially left the study group and did not sign up for their common class (Biology), and see Pierce asking to rejoin the group. Jeff, in all his loveliness, refuses Pierce’s apology and says it’s ok they’re not all taking the same class. The biology teacher, whom we discover was actually working with Pierce, kicks Jeff out of his class, though, leaving an open spot for Pierce. Jeff is now the odd man out, until he realizes that he was wrong to exclude Pierce (aww). How does the Greendale gang fix this problem? Exclude Starburns, of course!! The teacher banishes the strange-haired man with a top hat from his class, letting Jeff rejoin.
Our side stories for the week featured the always wonderful Danny Pudi as Abed, the pop culture maven of the group, and newcomer (hah, to the series) John Goodman as a vice dean that’s giving “Dean” dean a run for his money. Literally! The dean is so cash-strapped, he hires Chang to be a security guard in exchange for letting him live in the vents. Abed, on the other hand, is devastated his favorite show “Cougar Town” was delayed until a midseason premiere (“notcoolnotcoolnotcool…”). I’ve never felt such a kinship to Abed as when he screams about television news. I love that the only way to calm him is keep repeating “Six seasons and a movie…” Anyway, Britta spends the episode trying to find a new favorite show for Abed, going the British route and choosing “Cougarton Abbey,” which ended after six episodes (“Closure.”). Freaking out Abed yet again, Britta searched again and finally found the perfect show: “Inspector Spacetime,” a British sci-fi series that’s been running since 1962. This could very easily be my life.
Overall, this episode had a lot going on, but I enjoyed it. I think John Goodman’s character is on solid ground to become a great enemy for Greendale (the main building), and I can’t wait to see Chang as the security guard (we already saw him warn Jeff). I really hope this was the last Jeff-Pierce battle for a while, though. I’m getting tired of the votes.
Parks and Recreation 8:30/7:30c “I’m Leslie Knope”
This is my favorite show of the set, balancing truly wacky characters with heart and great storylines. In last season’s finale, we see Leslie Knope offered the chance of her lifetime: to run for a position on Pawnee City Council. The problem? She’s sleeping with her boss, Ben (THE ALWAYS WONDERFUL ADAM SCOTT), which can only cause scandal for this future Madam President of the United States. We also see Ron Swanson, man of men that he is, running away from Tammy 1, his first wife. We’ve already experienced the animal attraction between Ron and Tammy 2 (his second wife), but I hear Tammy 1 is her own brand of crazy…
Starting with the side stories, we see Tom bringing the Parks and Rec crew swag from his new company, Entertainment 720. I think the saddest part of this for me was that Tom was no longer wearing his trademark Brooks Brothers Boys suits, but some sort of uber-hipster chic. He even wears a scarf.
Andy seems to be going through an existential crisis, unsure of what he’s doing. He starts thinking that he’s beyond shoe-shining, and April promises to help him find something more fulfilling (just not working for Tom at Entertainment 720).
Ron, in his panic, flees to his cabin in the woods, hoping to hide from Tammy 1 forever. In her own crisis (choosing between Ben and public office), Leslie runs to Ron’s cabin, too. She insists with his wilderness skills and her supply of chocolate, they could hide there “two…three…years.” Ron’s infinite wisdom comes out, though, and realizes that Leslie needs to run for office and that he needs to face Tammy 1. Leslie finally faces Ben to break up with him, and he gives her the gift of a political button…for her campaign. As he sweetly breaks up with her (so she can pursue her dream), she smiles as her eyes glisten, and he applauds her when she officially announces her campaign. With her running for office, though, Ron’s going to need another Leslie-in-training back at the Parks and Rec office. Who better for this than our very own shoeshiner, Andy? Probably a lot of people, but April raised her hand first to nominate.
We do get to meet Tammy 1, by the way. In the closing scene, we see the fantastic Patricia Clarkson drop a menacing manila file on Ron’s desk and tell him he’s being audited. Tammy 1 works for the IRS!! Ron hates bureaucracy…so how did THAT happen?
I loved this episode, and I cannot wait for the rest of the season!! I only wish we didn’t have to live through the “Will they? Won’t they?” of Ben and Leslie’s relationship again. They finally get together only to get ripped apart? Not fair, but I guess it does make good television. And as much as the Tammy 1 storyline makes me cringe with dark humor (in a good way), I hear we also get to meet Tammy 0…? For those not in the know, that’s Ron’s mom.
The Office 9/8c “The List”
After months of hedging and avoiding the issue, the office finally has a new manager! With Robert California (the wonderfully evil James Spader) refusing the position and talking Jo out of her own job to take over as CEO, ANDY BERNARD gets the big desk. It makes sense for Michael Scott’s job to go to the one most like Michael Scott. They’re oblivious, sweet and rather overbearing.
I love that we see Andy trying hard in this new job, even making Dwight his enforcer in the office. When Robert California’s list of “winners and losers” is found (and photocopied), Andy defends his colleagues and makes a list of winners. I think Andy will do a great job as regional manager, and I’m so glad Dwight didn’t get it.
We also see a constantly sobbing Pam, who’s well into her pregnancy with Baby #2. The sweetest moment of the episode for me was the closing shot in which Pam reads Jim’s list: “Pam, Cecee, New Baby.” Pam, of course, cries, but it’s adorable all the same.
The other mystery pregnancy? Angela and her senator husband, of course! While there are a couple of looks between Angela and Dwight, I don’t know how that story will play out. It’s one of the many mysteries to come…
One thing I want to see more of this season is Kelly and Ryan. B.J. Novak and Mindy Kaling are two reasons the show is so great as it is. However, with them doing all the writing and directing (same to you, Paul Lieberstein), their characters are hardly shown anymore! I would love for them, and Toby, too, to have more of a presence. I think Toby’s due, especially with Michael gone. Who’s going to tear him down now?
I’ll admit, I did not have high hopes for this show. The premise is that Whitney and her live-in boyfriend Alex are perfectly happy. Not married. I predicted an anti-marriage best friend, a disapproving mother and a situation that would make the eponymous heroine regret not marrying Alex. In watching the pilot, I found all of these. I also found, though, a sugary-sweet friend couple, a caustic cop friend (all male, he-man type) and a genuine, loving relationship between Whitney and Alex.
We see Alex and Whitney getting ready for a wedding, acting very marriage-y in their preparations and mirror/perfume fighting. At the wedding, we see the clash of relationship values between all the friends, the main concern being the “sex thing.” Worried she and Alex are tapering off in their relationship, Whitney attempts to spice up their love life by dressing up as a nurse and playing out a ridiculous scene. What she didn’t count on was Alex giving himself a concussion by tripping on his pants.
At the hospital, the (actual) nurse won’t let Whitney in the ICU to see Alex because she’s not “family.” Cue Whitney questioning her aversion to marriage, and cue the overbearing mother to question for her. When the nurse finally lets Whitney see Alex, she gets down on her knees to propose to Alex. He refuses, and Whitney quickly says, “Thank God.” They end up cuddling in the hospital bed, as happy as ever.
I think this show will have its good moments, and I’d like to keep watching. The only thing that really drives me crazy is that it has a laugh track. A laugh track!! Thursday comedies on NBC do NOT use laugh tracks, not the shows I like to watch, anyway. I really notice it, too. It breaks up the scene, sometimes between every sentence. I’ll get over it, but I don’t have to like it.
So, those are my shows. I watch a lot more, but I just chose to write about these today. If you like it, great. If you hate it, sorry. If you agree/disagree, comment! If you like sports, you should visit The DagoBlog and read this article. Sorry, but I’m working on getting the word out for this. I’ll be promoting it for a while. Happy Friday!