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NBC Thursday Night Comedy 12/9/10 Recap: “I Could Have a Corner Seat at the K-Mart Cafe Right Now!”

The Christmas season really switches things up. People spend money like crazy, stressing themselves out over little things. And folks that seem so calm get wrapped up into the spirit. Even stranger, ‘The Office’ was the best show on Thursday night.

Community

I said last week that the stop-motion ‘Community’ Christmas special was “guaranteed to be wonderful or suck horribly.” Well, it didn’t suck horribly, but it definitely isn’t great.

The biggest problem with the stop-motion episode is that the joke goes as far as the premise and ends there. Once the stop-motion theme is revealed, there needs to be something afterwards, something to pay off that setup. I feel like it never comes.

The other issue I have with the episode is that facial expressions are a big part of comedic delivery. Overdone animation doesn’t make up for that. Jokes that normally would have worked completely flop because the voice just isn’t enough.

Ignoring the stop-motion animation and the models that make Annie look strung out and Jeff look like Christian Slater, the episode just isn’t that great. There’s a lack of consistency, running gags that just aren’t funny, and songs that don’t quite work.

There’s an unspoken rule that when the show crosses into a different genre, it does so in the spirit of satire or parody, but I feel like ‘Community’ crosses the line on this one and simply does a Christmas episode. Say what you will about the few successful gags, this episode just wasn’t there.

30 Rock

’30 Rock’ is disappointing as well, despite (or possibly because of) all the guests that are brought back for the episode. There’s a lot to squeeze into one episode, and I don’t think the show pulls it off.

I love when Alan Alda is on the show, I’m delighted when I see Will Forte, and Jack’s mom is usually a good person to have around. In the Christmas episode, though, it might be too much all at once.

The episode feels much like a season opener. We get reintroduced to each of the characters and we’re fed basic information on the ones we’re already familiar with. It’s like ’30 Rock’ for beginners.

The whole storyline with Liz, Jack, Avery and the rest isn’t as funny as it really should be. There’s just so much going on that none of the individual characters gets a chance to shine.

The one part of the episode that does work is Tracy Jordan’s rediscovering who he really is. It’s about time he dropped his quest to be taken seriously and embraced his ridiculous side. Perhaps another ‘Fat Bitch’ movie is in his future?

The Office

My Facebook status before venturing into tonight’s episode of ‘The Office’ was “I’m dreading the one-hour ‘Office’ Christmas special. I just can’t imagine it being worthwhile.” I imagined an episode heavy on the drama and without much actual redeeming value. After all, we’ve seen a few ‘Office’ Christmases by now.

As it turns out, the episode is good, maybe even great. It starts out with a great cold-open photography gag as everyone tries to jump at the same time and goes strong from there.

I love Angela being snotty because she’s dating a State Senator. It’s new for her, and a welcome change. It also provides some great opportunities for the rest of the crew to get their jabs in.

Erin’s incredibly aggressive passive-aggressiveness is fantastic. “I’m waiting for Michael’s pretty friend.” Great stuff. I get a bit of an ‘Arrested Development’ vibe from this episode, though I can’t place why.

The whole Jim and Dwight snowball fight story is great. It’s nice to see Dwight outdoing Jim a bit, and bringing a little bit of horror into the holiday season mixes things up wonderfully. It doesn’t much help the nice guy image Dwight got after the last episode, but hey, it works.

Sure, there are a few low points, but I really feel like this is the best episode of the season. ‘The Office’ might need to be an hour long to really develop a story as complicated as this. Had it been half the length, it would have bombed horribly.

Other Thoughts

- I’m done with those Old Navy commercials, thanks. The mannequin thing isn’t clever, it’s just weird.

- ‘Parks and Rec’ is back in 2011 and I couldn’t be happier.

- Holy crap, ‘The Cape’ looks awful. It looks like a bad imitation of ‘Watchmen’.

7 comments

  1. I love Community, and I appreciate what the show was going for here, but this episode just did not work on any level at all. I think I laughed once, at the remote-controlled teradactyl. That was it.

  2. Keith

    Seriously? I absolutey HATED The Office. In fact, hate might not be a strong enough word to describe how much I thought it sucked. It was supposed to be a Christmas episode, not something that made me feel like someone just kicked my dog. I can’t think of a single instant in the entire season where I had a laugh out loud moment with this show. Last I checked it’s supposed to be a comedy, right? I do believe that after this week, The Office will now be relegated to DVR and watch later status while I watch a show I can actually enjoy.

    Community? Eh, I thought it was Ok. At least I don’t feel like watching it was wasted time that I’ll never get back in life, like I did with the Office.

    On the other hand, I guess I picked a good week to sit through an episode of 30 Rock. My wife and I both quite enjoyed it.

  3. that1guypictures

    I was absolutely floored by Community. I thought it was one of the best episodes of the show so far. Loved the short songs, and the storyline. I also loved that Duncan got involved. 30 Rock was ok, and The Office was actually good for once this season. (Other than the Sweeney Todd episode, which was awesome.) I’m most thankful that Outsourced wasn’t on. I gave it a shot, but I just can’t like it…no matter how hard I try.

  4. Callenby

    I wasn’t wild about the stop-motion itself, but I was happy to see an episode where Abed was developed somewhat as a character rather than being merely a po-mo audience proxy.

    It was a very good episode of “The Office,” and no “Outsourced” was the cherry on the hour-long cake.

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