NBC Thursday Night Comedy 1/27/11 Recap: “Ain’t No Party Without Drugs!”

Maybe I’m just in some sort of crazy good mood, but I feel like NBC’s comedy shows collectively stepped up this past Thursday. They weren’t perfect, and some were very far from it, but every show was better than the previous week’s episodes.


I’m incredibly pleased with ‘Celebrity Pharmacology’. It isn’t a crazy episode with spaceships and magic, but it’s an episode that stands out nonetheless, just for being really good.

It all starts with an anti-drug play that Annie is putting on for middle-schoolers. It’s awful and full of bad puns and worse acting, just like all the anti-drug stuff from when I was a kid. But Annie cares, so the rest of the group helps her out.

Annie sells out, lets Pierce have control over the show, and it all goes to hell. Pierce is supposed to be representing drugs and should be unpopular with the kids, but they end up loving him. In the end, Chang steps in for what amounts to a pretty clever metaphor.

I love that Chang serves a purpose besides being creepy and aggressive. I mean, he’s still creepy and aggressive, but he’s doing it in a good way. Hopefully, this redemption continues as the show moves forward. Leaving Chang on the outside too long is wasteful.

The side story with Jeff and Britta’s mysterious texter is a little obvious. I think it was a pretty easy call right off the bat that Jeff’s message would be to a kid. This storyline may be worth it for the one-man conversation between Jeff and Abed, though.

Next week’s episode is called ‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’, which makes me nervous. As a ‘D&D’ player, it hurts me to see the game I love misrepresented for an easy laugh. ‘Freaks and Geeks’ did it right. Let’s see if ‘Community’ can do the same.

Other things I liked:

– Pierce: “I don’t get it. Aren’t everyone’s parents rich?”
– Dean: “Well, that answers my question. Jeff Winger is sexy, even in a coffin!”

Perfect Couples

I’ve got to give it to ‘Perfect Couples’. After a really bland pilot, the show has picked up a bit of steam. The second episode isn’t amazing, but it’s definitely not terrible.

Presumably, we’re all supposed to pick a couple out of the three to identify with, laugh with and love with. For me, that’s Amy and Vance, who are the only interesting pair in the bunch. They fight and make up in a ridiculous fashion, but they’re the only couple on the show that has some chemistry thus far.

The show begins with a marriage proposal from Vance that comes off as more of a daring contest than anything. It’s actually funny. I laughed out loud at one point, and that’s a very good sign.

The rest of the episode pretty much goes on autopilot, with each of the couples reacting to the marriage news in a different way.

So far, I quite like Vance and Amy. I could see Dave growing on me, though his wife Julia seems to exist only for the purpose of giving him someone to talk to. She doesn’t do much. I can’t stand Rex and Leigh, but it’s not Olivia Munn that’s bothering me. It’s Hayes MacArthur as Rex. I just find myself irritated instead of entertained.

Other things I liked:

– Dave: “Can I interest you in a life of this?”

The Office

As a fan of the British version of ‘The Office’ and of Ricky Gervais especially, I found myself teased by his appearance on the show. He pops in as David Brent, the same character he played on the British version, and I was thrilled to see him. And then he leaves. Sadness.

The rest of the episode is pretty solid. Andy has an idea for getting more sales and creates a small business seminar to bring in prospective clients. It turns out to be a good idea in the end, and I dig that. Andy’s a good guy and it’s nice to see him get a win.

The seminar also provides an opportunity for Kevin to deliver a wonderfully aware self-assessment. “I’m no Jim. The only way I’m Jim is in the movie version, where Jim sees what his future would be like if he never met Pam.”

Jim’s part of the show is uneventful and strange. If you’re going to play hooky from work, why not go bowling? Better yet, why not go home? It’s not like Michael would actually notice or anything. He’s too busy pretending to be Greek.

Michael and Holly have fun together doing accents, and they begin the inevitable process that will end with the pair getting back together. “I think it’s almost inevitable that Michael Scott will wind up with Holly,” said Alex in the comments last week. Well Alex, it looks like you’re right.

There’s a really nice Michael moment in the show, which I think is too often missing. Instead of just thinking of himself and his love life, Michael actually helps Andy close some sales. This is the kind of thing we should see more from Michael.

Was it just me, or were there two commercials for ‘127 Hours’ during each break?

Parks and Recreation

It’s great to see a really spot-on episode of ‘Parks and Recreation’, and that’s exactly what we get this week.

There’s a flu going around and nearly everyone has it. Leslie is sick, despite claiming not to be. April is in the hospital, which results in some tension with Ann. Even the seemingly unstoppable Chris Traeger is down for the count.

Ron and Andy both shine in this episode. As usual, Ron has some of the funniest lines. Andy filling in for April is an excellent move and really lets us see the two in action. It’s also nice to see Ron interact with someone that he considers to be on his level. As he puts it, “I’m surrounded by a lot of women in this department, and that includes the men.”

When Chris starts to get sick and finally breaks down, things get really funny. One of the episode’s highlights is when Rob Lowe stares intently into the mirror and commands himself, “Stop. Pooping.”

Leslie is great throughout the first half of the episode, but once she starts seeing things, I just lose interest. Hallucinatory humor has never played with me. It just seems too easy.

There’s a piece at the end that feels really tacked on. Chris tells Ben that the higher-ups have called and asked them to return, but the pair decide that they want to stay.

Other things I liked:

– Ron: “I didn’t know what to bring you, so I just got magazines and lipstick. Woman stuff.”
– Ron: “You had me at Meat Tornado.”
– Chris: “The microchip has been compromised.”

30 Rock

I’ve had mixed feelings about ’30 Rock’ lately, but this week’s ‘Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning’ is a breath of fresh air.

Tracy has “opened up a whole new level of actor craziness,” and is literally phoning it in. The problem resolves itself when the crew of Angie’s Reality show arrives to tape Tracy. Liz uses this against him and makes him work harder.

The whole Liz/Tracy thing is fine but not remarkable. I really dig Tracy’s use of a Billy Joel song to get around the argument between him and Liz appearing on TV. It’s clever stuff.

There’s a side story where Lutz becomes popular for a day when he’s revealed to be the only one with a car to help the crew survive in the event of a theoretical apocalypse. You just kind of have to go with it. It’s a fun turnaround, and it lets an underused character get some air time.

The real winner of the show for me is Jack’s preemptive disaster special. Not only is it a funny idea, but the execution works incredibly well. Robert De Niro’s guest spot is nice and understated. The disaster scenarios are funny, and Jenna’s song and its near nonsensical lyrics remind me of They Might Be Giants, which is always a plus. “We need to help the people that the stuff that happened happened to.”

I can’t stand it when shows go for easy jokes, and Mel Gibson is one of the easiest of them all. Still, I let loose a laugh during the reveal that the benefit show was entirely to rebuild Gibson’s mansion. Maybe it’s a cheap gag, but it’s done very well.

Other things I liked:

– Liz Lemon’s addiction to reality shows
– ‘The Real Transvestite Hoarders of Orange County Penetentiary’


  1. I was torn on this episode of The Office. I didn’t buy anything about the small business seminar. Who would attend this thing? And once they got there and saw what a joke it was, who would stay for the whole thing, much less actually buy the packet at the end just because they felt sorry for Andy?

    On the other hand, I liked a lot of the little moments. Like Andy acknowledging what a terrible salesman he is, and then saying “But I can’t lose this job. It’s the only thing I’m good at!” I liked that Michael, for all the nonsense with his goofy accent, actually did help Andy right when Andy needed a push the most.

    I liked the Scrabble subplot with Erin. (“Moo? You have a D. You could play Mood.” / “Oh right, like the cow mood yesterday.”) And I liked the running gag about Gabe being completely oblivious to what movies Erin wants to watch. (“It’s about a robot programmed by the government to be a vicious killing machine… Just like Wall-E. So it’s got something you like, and something I like.”)

    My favorite moment had to be Erin exclaiming, “They made a Shrek 2?!”

    • Adam

      Your comment here about Andy acknowledging what a terrible salesman he is got me thinking. I realize that a)It’s a TV show and not real and b)Michael Scott as a boss changes everything, but doesn’t it seem patently ridiculous that Dunder Mifflin employs such terrible sales staff? Andy is a terrible, awful salesman (for some reason I think he said he’d never sold anything, but I could be off), yet he continues to have a job, not only with Michael Scott, but in the much more “professional” environment of Stamford. If he’s so awful, how did he either not get fired or not go broke from lack of commission? There’s also the case of Ryan, who was made a junior salesman and then promoted by the company to a VP despite having never sold so much as a single ream of paper. It’s no wonder DMI went bankrupt!

      • There’s also the case of Michael, who apparently does nothing the entire time he’s working; Jim, who is able to leave the office for a day without anyone so much as noticing and Kevin, who appears to be too dumb to add, let alone account.

        For what it’s worth, there was a shot of a white board with the sales numbers on it in the episode and Andy wasn’t at zero. I’m assuming he gets by on people calling to buy paper, rather than on people he finds and sells to. I’m assuming that’s what the comment meant anyway.

  2. Adam

    An interesting note: the text message gag on Community is actually a recycle of a bit from early in last season in which Jeff comments to Britta that the number she put down on his “sign-in sheet” in the pilot was a bogus number and that he only found this out after the culmination of a month long text message affair with an older guy named Kevin. Uncharacteristically sloppy for a show like Community.

  3. Aaron Peck

    I haven’t watched an episode of ‘The Office’ since around its 3rd season or so. After a while I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Still love ’30 Rock’ though.

  4. Mike Attebery

    The Office is no longer pretending to be based in reality, but it’s at least improved a bit in the last few episodes.

    God I hate 30 Rock. I hate it, hate it, hate it. I came around and started to like it a couple years ago, but I once again hate it. Such a lazy, lazy show.

    • I’ll agree with you on The Office and I have high hopes for the rest of the season.

      I think 30 Rock started really strong, but it’s been failing to live up to expectations too often.

      I’ve noticed that the show has been using TV and movie tropes as jokes a few times in the recent season, which seems to step on the toes of ‘Community’ just a bit too much.

      • Adam

        I think any hopes of a “restrained” or “grounded” Michael Scott in future episodes went out the window with the announcement of Will Ferrell joining the cast for 4 (I think) episodes, including one after the departure of Michael. I don’t think “restrained” is a term that has ever been used to describe Ferrell. It will, no doubt, be funny, but it will likely mean an end to the somewhat more realistic Michael of the past several episodes.

        • Ferrell was pretty restrained in Stranger than Fiction. Not that I expect that’s what this show will want to do with him, of course.

          It’s possible that Michael may have to dial back to play straight man to Ferrell. Probably not, but you never know.