NBC Thursday Night Comedy 1/20/11 Recap: “2011 is Coming Up Darryl!”

NBC’s Thursday night lineup returned this week bigger than ever. The addition of a new show is always interesting, but the return of ‘Parks and Recreation’ really has me excited.

What used to be a nice compact two-hour block of comedy is now three hours thanks to the addition of ‘Perfect Couples’, which I’m really not looking forward to. It’s not that it doesn’t seem funny. The problem is that that the show stars Olivia Munn, who along with the G4 network and Spike Video Game Awards is one of the worst things ever to happen to videogames. Her existence makes me sad, but I’ll do my damnedest not to hold that against the show. Since it also stars the Waitress from ‘Always Sunny’, who I quite like, I feel like that evens things out. With that out of the way, let’s get on to the shows.

Community

Boy, it’s great to have ‘Community’ back again, especially with an episode like this. ‘Asian Population Studies’ is among the funniest episodes of the season, even if it does feel a little crowded with all the different plot points.

The main focus of the episode is a search for a new member to the study group, which comes down to a choice between the far-too-nice Rich and the deplorable Chang. If it were up to me, it would be Chang, simply for his constant punning. I’m also in love with his inability to properly execute tropes like the slow clap. He’s like the anti-Abed.

Shirley is back with her ex-husband (Malcolm Jamal Warner), which meets with disapproval from the rest of the group. Despite his failings in the past, he seems like a decent enough guy. He and Jeff have a moment after some interesting news about Shirley’s pregnancy, which causes Jeff to go running off.

It’s a little bit obvious that he’s not going after Annie, but I didn’t expect him running to meet with Rich. His run, the music, the rain and the conversation with Rich were absolutely perfect. “You have to teach me to be like you, so I can abuse that power.”

Other things I liked:

– Kendra spelled with a Q-U: “I spell kettle corn with a Q-U.”
– Jeff’s amazing puns of the word “serious” reminded me of the Sklar brothers.

Perfect Couples

I didn’t hate ‘Perfect Couples’. I’m not saying that I liked it. I found it pretty lame and only really found one likeable character in the bunch. Still, it’s a pilot episode, and pilot episodes aren’t always indicative of what a show will actually be like. It’s not entirely fair to judge a show by the pilot, but NBC aired it so I’m going to talk about it.

The only thing that works for me in the show was David Walton as the character Vance. He’s painted with very broad strokes and it seems like he’s really trying to be James Franco, but I can’t help but enjoy him.

‘Perfect Couples’ seems really in-your-face and overboard with the music and title cards. The actors were also really out there – each of them seemed to be vying for the role of the breakout character. Every scene with the ensemble in it was packed with overacting that just didn’t work.

I think that if the show calms down, it could be decent. It’s definitely not as strong as NBC’s already established Thursday night shows, but it’s sure better than ‘Outsourced’. At least the pilot was. Like ‘Outsourced’, I’ll give it a few episodes.

The Office

‘The Office’ is like a circus, to steal a metaphor from Mick Foley. If you don’t like the clowns, there are the acrobats. If you don’t like the strong men, there’s the freak show. Each episode of ‘The Office’ is packed with so much that there’s bound to be something good in there.

There’s plenty that I like in ‘Ulitmatum’, and plenty that I don’t like. Kevin misinterpreting Holly’s gesture with the engagement rings and hitting her with a double-deuce and “Right back atcha, bitch” was something I liked.

The same can be said of the adventure that Darryl, Dwight and Andy go on. It’s a realistic version of trying to pick up chicks at noon on a weekday, and a fun outing for the boys. Darryl especially gets some good screen time and one of my favorite lines: “The day shift at a strip club? You can’t unsee that!”

The Holly angle, on the other hand, emphasizes exactly what I don’t like to see on ‘The Office’. Michael can be forgiven for being an idiot, but for some reason the entire staff of Dunder Mifflin also seems to assume that Holly is going to turn on a dime. No, she doesn’t have a ring, but she hasn’t dumped her boyfriend either. Relationships are complicated.

Michael goes overboard with the Holly thing and ends up force feeding broccoli to Kevin in front of the entire staff. It’s pretty awful. Are we really supposed to like this character or is he turning heel?

At the end, we find out that Holly is apparently dumping her boyfriend after all, or at least taking a break. That’s fine and all, but I’ll be very disappointed if she ends up with Michael in the end.

Other things I liked:

– Darryl: “2011 is coming up Darryl!”
– Kelly’s resolution: “Get more attention by any means necessary.”
– Michael’s happy/sad boxes. “Two bottles of scotch? Both sad.”

Parks and Recreation

Oh, how I missed ‘Parks and Recreation’. The show is finally back on and I can settle down and enjoy… Wait, what the hell is this? A terrible voice-over narration explaining the drama in the show? Yikes, that’s just awful.

After that, things pick up a bit. We get a look at what everyone’s done during their off time, and Leslie’s excitement over being back to business. We also find out that since the government is still incredibly poor, there aren’t going to be any new projects – just maintenance and basketball.

The basketball side of the story is fine, but not really noteworthy except for Andy’s coaching style. It reminds me a little too much of the basketball coaching rivalry in ‘Always Sunny’, except not as funny.

The bigger part of the story is the date between Rob Lowe’s character Chris Traeger and Ann Perkins. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I can’t remember Lowe’s character name without looking it up. Ann Perkins is a little easier, since Lowe says it every time he sees her.

Chris and Ann go out. Leslie hopes that the date will help get more funding for the Parks department. The date is fantastic, and I can’t not love Lowe. His incredible intensity and honest interest in everyone and everything wins me over.

Leslie and Ben end up in the picture too. It’s funny, but I still find it odd how aggressive Leslie is to Ben considering that they’ve already bonded on a few things in the past.

It’s a nice return for ‘Parks and Rec’, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.

Other things I liked:

– Ron: “Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”
– Leslie: “You know what’s always sexy? Fingerless gloves!”
– Andy dumping Gatorade on himself.

30 Rock

Finally we get to ’30 Rock’. You know, two and a half hours may be a little much to sit through. Three would be overdoing it for sure, but thankfully ‘Outsourced’ is at the end. It’s like that one class in high school that you didn’t have to pass so you just left early. You didn’t? I sure did.

The character of Danny on ’30 Rock’ bothers me. I don’t like him, but I don’t dislike him either. He’s like plain rice. There’s no flavor there, so there’s nothing to judge. This entire episode feels very much like that.

Danny is back and he’s sharing a room with Jenna. Hilarity should ensue, but it doesn’t – not even when Kenneth takes on the role of son in the strange marriage-like atmosphere the closeness creates. It’s not great.

Dr. Spaceman tells Tracy that he’s dying, so Tracy tries to get his wife a backup plan. After a few failed ideas, Jack arranges a reality show for Angie. Liz objects to the idea of bumping ‘TGS’ for the show, but admits that she’d probably watch it anyway.

Finally, it turns out that Liz accidentally married Jack. Apparently this means they need to get a divorce. I’m no expert, but it seems like an annulment would take care of this sort of thing nicely. Liz leverages this power to get Jack to supply funding to ‘TGS’. Two shows in a row where women leverage a relationship for funding, what a weird coincidence. It’s a little like the Lady Gaga thing from Halloween.

The ending is a sort of HR meeting/counseling session with Jeffery Weinerslav that ends up being pretty good. It reminds me a lot of what Abed does in ‘Community’, summing up the relationships of Liz and Jack as if they were on a TV show.

It’s not a standout episode for ’30 Rock’, but it’s not bad either. It falls somewhere in the mediocre zone.

Other things I liked:

– Dr. Spaceman: “Your blood tastes like root beer…”
– Liz: “I’ve been to a rodeo too. It was a cat rodeo in a gay guy’s apartment.”
– Jack: “We know what art is. It’s pictures of horses!”

8 comments

  1. I thought Perfect Couples was pretty funny. The pilot episode was a little disjointed and pilot-y, and I definitely hear what you’re saying about too many of the characters trying to be the “breakout.” But I laughed a bunch of times, which is more than I can say about any episode of Outsourced. The bit about how the different couples sleep, each of which results in the girl hogging the bed, was especially on-the-nose.

    I probably hate Olivia Munn as much as you do. (Do people really think she’s hot? Have they not looked at her face??) At least the show had the good sense to cast her as the most annoying character. That was intentional, right?

    Once it settles in, I can see this being a solid addition to the lineup.

  2. Keith

    I don’t get Parks and Rec, it’s like a crappy copy of the Office but even less funny than the Office has been lately (this weeks episode excluded). I wish they’d have moved Outsourced to after the Office and left Parks & Rec and 30 Rock for the 10-11 hour.

    I thought Community was awesome this week. Absolutely LOVED the Cosby show reference with the sweater. Can’t wait to see what happens with the possible Chang baby!

    Perfect couples was Ok. I thought the episode they showed a few weeks back was much better than this one though. I agree on the Olivia Munn thing. Most of my buddies think she’s the hotest chick to ever walk the face of the earth. I disagree.

    The Office was probably one of the best for this season for me anyways. Certainly a hell of a lot better than the Holiday episode stinker they left us with. I kinda thought the whole Brocolli thing was funny, especially when he had to spit it out. 😀

    I lost interest in Parks & Rec about 3 minutes in and talked to my wife for the remainder of it’s 30 minutes.

    30 Rock? Meh. Lost interest in it pretty quikly as well. Ended up exchanging pleasantries about Wipeout & Jill Wagner with some friends on facebook.

    Outsourced. I like the show, but this one wasn’t very good. Couple with the fact that it was 10:30, the wife and I had migrated to the bedroom, and I had been up since 5AM, I missed the last 10 minutes of it. Oh well that’s what Hulu or torrents are for.

  3. Of “Perfect Couples,” the lining up of the three couples on a normalcy spectrum was a little too obvious. I can’t imagine that they could milk this premise for a half-season.

    The broccoli-eating scene from “The Office” reminded me a lot of the “Mange!” scene from “Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom.” Was it a direct parody, a reference, or unwitting, and at what level since these people are supposed to be in a documentary? I doubt Michael Scott, the character, would have drawn that connection.

    • “these people are supposed to be in a documentary”

      You know, I wish that would be acknowledged at some point. One of my favorite parts of the British version was when they revisited the characters and Gervais was exploiting his very minimal amount of fame.

  4. Adam

    God, I was just happy to have my Thursday night shows back. I gave Perfect Couples a try, especially since Coffee Shop Waitress was in it, but it was pretty ehh for me. It seems very FOX-ish to me, not sure why. I’ll give it a couple more episodes. It can’t be worse than Outsourced…right??

    Community was awesome as usual. I really hate Rich, as I guess we’re supposed to. The whole running in the rain thing was fairly predictable as far as who he was going to see, though I didn’t guess the whole “teach me to be perfect so I can use it for bad” angle. That, to me, redeemed the whole scene. Had Jeff simply wanted to be a better person, it would have been a major departure from the show’s MO.

    I’ve missed Parks and Rec so much, even it it was my least favorite of the old four shows. As for The Office, I always get a little anxious and dread watching it (though not as much as in weeks and season past), simply because I love it so much and want SOOO much for it to be good like S2 and S3, yet I know it won’t be. I did read a while back that Michael will be leaving before the last four episodes, so we actually don’t have a whole lot of time left with him, which means that things will probably be coming to a head soon.

    Outsourced, I hate you, and if you take Community’s spot, I will hunt you down.

  5. Patrick A Crone

    I’ve really gotten to like Parks and Rec since catching up on Netflix. I find the forced awkward moments much easier to watch then the ones on The Office. Speaking of The Office, I liked the new episode for the most part. Although Michael’s tantrum in the employee meeting was hard to watch. Community has been great from the start and I was glad to see it in top form for the new year. 30 Rock was okay, but I’m used to getting more laughs out of it. I watched the pilot of perfect couples on Hulu and found it utterly boring. I skipped Outsourced, well because it’s Outsourced.

    Favorite moment of the night
    Community: Jeff to Abed “You said it Brown Jamie Curtis”

  6. Alex

    I hate to tell you this, Dick, but I think it’s almost inevitable that Michael Scott will wind up with Holly. It’s almost painful how blatantly they’re setting it up for Steve Carrell’s departure. Unlike Ricky Gervais’ boss, who you’re supposed to loathe, they’ve played Michael Scott off as a lovable lug, too lovable, in fact, to abandon to misery at the end of his run. Or at least I’m sure that’s how the execs see it. Personally, I think they should end the series after this year and the finale should have Dwight finally losing it and going postal and Creed being promoted to CFO of the Sabre Corp.

  7. HuskerGuy

    Glad to have these shows back, well all of them except Perfect Couples and Outsourced.

    Loved Community, Parks & Rec, and 30 Rock this week.

    The Office continues to sputter toward what I sincerely hope is its final season. It had its run and I’ve loved a large portion of it, but the show is just so hit and miss lately that it’s better of dead sooner rather than later.

    We watched the pilot of Perfect Couples a few weeks back when it first aired and turned it off after 10 minutes. It was horrid and will not be getting a second chance. We’ve also attempted to watch Outsourced on two occassions and find it terribly unfunny.

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