TV show holiday-themed episodes tend to be pretty bad. (See ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas‘.) But this year’s Valentine’s Day offerings from NBC were generally good. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that almost every episode was a step up from the previous week.
If there’s one show I can count on to be reliably funny on Thursday night (I actually watched these over the weekend, but you get the idea), it’s ‘Community’. The show is like the dessert that you get at the end of a meal, but it comes at the beginning. ‘Early 21st Century Romanticism’ doesn’t disappoint. It starts off strong and it ends strong, and then gets a little weird.
It all starts when Abed and Troy fall for the same girl – a librarian at the school. Instead of going with the tried-and-true route of having the girl get in between the two, they decide to handle things in an up-front and honest way.
The act of asking out the librarian, the date and the subsequent dumping of the librarian are the highlights of the episode. That, and the guys yelling “Books!” to get the librarian to notice them. Top notch.
Britta does her casually superior thing throughout the episode, boasting about her new lesbian friend. She starts dressing a little manlier and calls people homophobes. In the end, it turns out that Britta’s friend isn’t a lesbian after all. Pretty funny stuff, and well worth it to find out that Pierce had a statement prepared for just such an occasion.
Jeff splits with the gang for a bit and agrees to a soccer night with Ian (John Oliver) that ends up turning into a fairly significant party. Eventually, he realizes how much he needs his friends. It’s sweet, even if it does end with a shot of Pierce sleeping alone on a park bench.
If ‘Community’ is the dessert of the meal, then ‘Perfect Couples’ is some sort of crappy flavorless soup. Maybe more like pumpernickel bread, which I can eat with the right toppings but never plain. It has to be part of a sandwich.
‘Perfect Jealousy’ is a decent episode as far as they go, even if the side that the show asks us to take is a bit paranoid. Dave and Vance get in trouble with their wives for walking with a girl they meet in the park. Yup.
Rex is having some money troubles and is trying to sell a Ferrari to a college kid. It’s a storyline that’s pretty dull and ends with a strange confrontation with his wife that reveals that she’s been hiding money in case of a divorce. I get that she gives the money to him, and that’s nice, but I have no idea how he’s not upset about the deception in the first place.
The show has yet to make me laugh out loud, but I do love the way Julia reacts to being flirted with. It’s a good start.
I’m also a big fan of the theme. Sure it’s only 15 seconds long, but The New Pornographers are great in any form I can get them.
The opening gag in ‘PDA’ is the funniest of the year, and one of the best in the show’s history. It starts with a very sweet moment between Pam and Daryl, which then morphs into a bit of comedy and then back to sweet with Pam whispering, “I’m so sorry.”
The main storyline is that of Michael and Holly and their inappropriate public displays of affection. This results in a meeting from Gabe on the subject of PDA in the workplace. The meeting is made that much funnier by Jim and Pam, who got a little tipsy at lunch.
Andy is helping Erin with a romantic treasure hunt, which results in another great scene with Daryl and a tease for the possible rekindling of their relationship.
Jim and Pam are trying to get a quickie in at the office, in the warehouse, or basically anywhere they can. It works out in the end. Good for them!
Finally, Michael tells Holly that he’s in love with her. She says it back, and they decide to move in together. It’s all moving quick and happening predictably, but that’s to be expected as things start to wrap up for Michael on the show.
Parks and Recreation
Ron’s ex-wife Tammy (Megan Mullally) is back in the picture, trying to mess things up for Ron. It wouldn’t bother him, except that Wendy breaks up with him on the same day. Ron spirals out of control, and no one can talk him out of the horribly destructive relationship he’s gotten himself into.
The real standout moments of the episode stem from Ben, played by Adam Scott. His interactions with the police chief are highly entertaining, and the constant rejection of his calzone idea is a wonderful running gag.
Of course, Rob Lowe’s character Chris shines too. He and April make an outstanding pair comedically. His constant praise and April’s anxiety about accepting that praise are hilarious.
Lowe and Scott have both contributed greatly to the show and have become, in my mind, essential to the success of the series. They’re like Danny DeVito on ‘Always Sunny’. Sure, the show existed before him, and it was plenty funny, but it would feel completely empty without him now.
The one disappointment this week is ’30 Rock’. Somewhere during this season, it seems like the writing has gotten more predictable and the characters have failed to grow.
During the course of the episode, Liz makes at least two but possibly three speeches to a group of angry people on an airplane. It’s predictable and a little silly, but it gets absolutely awful when Liz’s stomach apparently utters the phrase “Turkey wraps.” Yeah, her stomach talks. I don’t get it either.
Liz also gets in a fight with her boyfriend Carol (Matt Damon), which results in them breaking up by the end of the episode.
Jack and Avery are in Canada when Avery begins to go into labor. They have to make a decision. Either they can try to cross the border in a mobile meth lab or have a Canadian daughter. Jack decides to go with the safer of the two routes.
It’s not a great episode, but I have faith in ’30 Rock’. You can bet we’ll see something better come along before the season’s up.