NBC debuted a new show last week, but the really big news isn’t Paul Reiser – it’s Will Ferrell. His first episode of ‘The Office’ aired and was either a breath of fresh air or a nail in the coffin, depending on what you’re looking for out of the show. I’m sure you can guess where I stand.
The night starts off with a not particularly impactful episode of ‘Community’. Pierce meets a woman who turns out to be using him to advance her family’s business, and Jeff makes an effort to break up the relationship. Troy fakes being traumatized in acting class to please the instructor and later to attract Britta.
They’re fine stories and there are some really good jokes in there. In particular, I like Annie’s ability to set up a joke but not finish it. Nothing here stands out hugely, though. It’s good, but not great.
I hate to say it, but I actually didn’t care for the third story – Abed in a class dedicated to the show ‘Who’s the Boss?’. It features guest star Stephen Tobolowsky, who will always and forever be known to me as the great Ned Ryerson. But something’s just off. He and Abed don’t seem to have much chemistry, and the resolution of the angle just falls short.
As much as I love ‘Community’, I have to admit that ‘Competitive Wine Tasting’ isn’t going to be one for the history books.
The Paul Reiser Show
Let me start by saying that I’ve never watched ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, so I can’t provide a point of reference comparing the two shows. Of course, even if ‘The Paul Reiser Show’ is a complete carbon-copy, a good enough show will be able to stand on its own.
The pilot of ‘The Paul Reiser Show’ has promise, but all in all there are only two characters that I actually enjoy. The first, surprisingly, is Paul Reiser. He seems pretty down to earth and he does a pretty good job at reacting to the situations he’s put into. The other is Larry David, who’s a guest on the show, not a regular.
The rest of the cast just doesn’t work in the pilot episode. They feel predictable and sitcom-y compared to Reiser, as if they’re characters on a show and he’s the only one without a script. The result is a disjointed show that has some potential, but seems fundamentally flawed.
It’s strange to watch a show that’s been on for seven years and have it feel completely new. The addition of Will Ferrell seems to push the rest of the cast to excel. It’s also nice to see the characters happy and optimistic instead of being jaded and tired.
Ferrell plays the new boss, Deangelo Vickers, and he does so wonderfully. He seems to draw quite a bit of inspiration from his George W. Bush impersonation, but Deangelo may be the closest Ferrell has ever gotten to being a straight man. He’s present in most of the show, but he’s not the primary source of comedy.
I’m not going to get tremendously in depth with the episode, but suffice it to say that I’m happy with the job Ferrell is doing so far. The only disappointing thing is that he wasn’t brought on earlier. He and Steve Carell make an amazing pair, whether it’s during a friendly meeting in a bar or a struggle for power. I think we’re in for a real treat over the next few episodes.
Parks and Recreation
‘Parks and Recreation’ takes a different focus this week. Less attention is paid to Leslie Knope, and more is paid to Andy and April, who invite their friends and family to a fancy party to celebrate their anniversary.
The party ends up being an impromptu wedding, which Leslie tries to stop and then eventually learns to accept. It seems out of nowhere, but considering the impulsiveness of the characters, it actually does make quite a bit of sense. It’s also really sweet, and I’m a sucker for sweet.
The side-story with Donna teaching Ann how to flirt is cute if a bit obvious. I’d like to see a little more of Donna, though. She’s funny and she’s not used much, which seems like a bit of a waste.
The Ben and Leslie thing is starting to get a little old. They’ve exchanged significant glances enough. Make it happen or drop it.
The show’s been a little off this season, though I can’t put a finger on exactly what’s not working for me. In general, ’30 Rock’ seems to be slipping.
‘I Heart Connecticut’ is another episode that’s tolerable and even funny in parts, but won’t go down as a particularly memorable episode of ’30 Rock’. It brings the Tracy in Africa saga to a close and gives us a look at one of Jenna’s terrible side projects, but the real story here is Pete.
If there’s a highlight to the episode, it’s Pete discovering that he’s incredibly good at arm wrestling. He defeats the entire TGS writing staff to win the choice of where to get food from (takeout from Hooters) and eventually starts taking on crew members.
He has some good interactions with Rob Riggle, who makes a return to the show, and he really looks triumphant when celebrating his wins. It ends up being a dream, which is a shame. I would have liked to see Pete get a real victory.