NBC Thursday Night Comedy 3/24/11 Recap: “The Air Is Too Fresh. It’s Disgusting!”

Well, here’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d be writing any time soon. ‘The Office’ was the best show on last Thursday night. That’s not even because the other shows were bad; it was just a damn good episode.


I haven’t seen ‘My Dinner with Andre’. I know vaguely what it is, but it’s not a film that I’m familiar with enough to understand when someone references it. That may be the reason that ‘Critical Film Studies’ is such a disappointment.

Jeff meets up with Abed at a fancy restaurant before heading off to the surprise party that he and the gang have planned. There’s a lot of conversation, and while there are some funny moments, the scenes between Jeff and Abed really don’t work for me. It’s a lot of build-up to a joke that really isn’t funny enough.

Throughout the episode, I found myself identifying with Jeff. Not because of the Halloween costume he wore as a child, but because I desperately want Abed and Jeff to leave the restaurant and get to the party where everyone is dressed as characters from ‘Pulp Fiction’. Shirley makes a surprisingly good Samuel L. Jackson, and Pierce is the perfect gimp.

Perfect Couples

I try not to get too attached to shows that are on the verge of cancellation. I’m still in a lot of anguish over ‘Firefly‘, and I didn’t even watch that one until the DVDs came out. Luckily, I’m not going to have that trouble with ‘Perfect Couples’.

‘Perfect Lies’ is a variation on the tried and true “Don’t let my wife find out what happened at the bachelor party” theme. It’s fine, but not remarkable, though I am a fan of the increasingly common moments of transcendence.

The bachelorette party isn’t a whole lot better, mainly because of Amy’s friend, who comes off as incredibly annoying.

The Office

Much of this season has been disappointing and even painful to watch, but this latest episode of ‘The Office’ is actually pretty amazing. It has a strong story all the way through, and we see Michael grow as a character – something that the show has been missing this season.

Michael decides to propose to Holly, and is helped along by some of the staff. Pam in particular is invested in making sure that the proposal goes well, partially because Michael’s initial plan would have resulted in a significant amount of damage to the parking lot, the cars parked in it, and probably to Michael too.

The proposal is something that we knew was coming, but it’s still really sweet anyway. As is the case with proposals, something has to go wrong, and it does when Michael’s candles set off a fire alarm. Standing under the sprinklers, Michael and Holly look like they’re ready for anything.

The side story is classic Jim and Dwight. Dwight is trying to use his bartering skills to his advantage by trading up from a thumbtack until he has the most valuable thing at the company garage sale. Jim spends an entire day fooling Dwight into buying magic beans.

From start to finish, this is a great episode of ‘The Office’, and the last one we’ll see for a month. At the end of April, Will Ferrell comes in and Michael starts to say goodbye. Things are about to get very interesting.

Parks and Recreation

Leslie is stumped for an idea to follow up the Harvest Festival, so she decides to take the whole staff on a camping trip. It doesn’t go over well with most of the folks in the Parks Department, but they join her.

April is particularly upset about the trip, and is constantly calling Andy to complain. After a while, her whining stops being funny and starts being annoying. I even start to feel sorry for Andy.

‘Camping’ isn’t a great episode of ‘Parks and Recreation’. It comes off as more of a filler than anything. It closes the book on the Ann and Chris relationship, reveals the toll that Leslie’s work schedule takes on her, and gives us a look into Jerry’s ideal existence. It’s creepy.

30 Rock

I feel somehow victorious. I know that I didn’t lead a fan petition or do anything else to make it happen, but I’m taking full credit for Will Arnett’s return to ’30 Rock’ as Jack’s adversary, Devon Banks. His latest rivalry with Jack is short-lived, but full of greatness.

Jack hires Banks back to help promote the network he just acquired, called TWiNKS. It’s targeted at young gay males, a demographic that Jack doesn’t get. Since Banks is essentially a gay Jack Donaghy, he’s just the man to run it.

Liz is still trying to get Tracy back. Until he returns, ‘TGS’ is put on forced hiatus. The cast and crew go to their backup plans, and Liz realizes she doesn’t have one. It gets a little self-referential, but all in all, the bit works.


  1. The Office is a very uneven show lately, but the writers still have a knack for pulling off “event” episodes (engagements, weddings, births, etc.). Those can almost always be counted on to be good.

    This episode of Community was… strange. I sort of had a bad feeling about it as soon as Jeff referenced back to the animated Christmas special at the beginning. Even so, I appreciate it that the show takes risks by experimenting like this.

  2. Alex

    I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw the commercial announcing Will Ferrell as the new boss. I thought it was a joke, because I was really pulling for Ricky Gervais. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. When he’s on his game, Will Ferrell is delightful, but when he’s not, he is utterly unwatchable. If he tries to be the same type of boss as Michael Scott, it’ll be a disaster. If he tries to be Ron Burgundy in a cubicle, it’ll be a disaster. If he creates a unique, different, and moderately grounded character, he might accomplish some great things.

      • Adam

        That’s what the line from NBC is. Ferrell is guest starring for four episodes. Three will be in conjunction with Michael and the last will be after he leaves. I’m guessing that’s likely to be the season finale, or at most, the next to last episode.

  3. Mike

    Community has totally lost me. Whatever magic touch it had last season that made every episode fantastic is GONE! I can’t even watch it.

    Will Ferrell can be funny, but he has dead eyes. They scare the hell out of me. Seriously. Look at em! Beady and lifeless.

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