If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that we’d already seen the season finales of most of NBC’s Thursday night lineup. Shirley had her kid, Michael Scott left, and the ‘TGS’ season wrapped up. That covers just about everything that you’d expect from season finales, but, for whatever reason, the season goes on.
The writers have acknowledged it, but that doesn’t make the first half hour of this two-part paintball episode feel any less like going back to the well to recapture the magic of the first season finale.
‘A Fistful of Paintballs’ is a pretty disappointing episode overall. It seems like a part of that disappointment stems from the fact that we’ve seen the show do paintball before. The first was a hallmark episode, and repeating the same thing in a longer form seems like a misstep.
It’s unusual for me to be unimpressed by ‘Community’. I’m still of the opinion that it’s one of the better shows on television today, but this episode just doesn’t do anything for me. We’ve seen Pierce be evil and manipulative, and we’ve seen Jeff get jealous of other men. We’ve seen movie tributes and we’ve seen paintball.
In an episode that’s otherwise uneventful, two things stuck out to me. The first is Troy’s costume, which is modeled after the one worn by Bart in ‘Blazing Saddles’ – a nice touch. The second is the absolutely fantastic score which harkens back to the Spaghetti Westerns of old.
I have no idea what purpose these last few episodes of ‘The Office’ serve. Obviously, there needs to be a transition from Michael leaving to a new manager taking over, but it seems like the sort of thing that should be done at the beginning of the next season instead of the end of this one.
‘The Inner Circle’ is a strange episode. Even though it’s funny enough, it’s devoid of meaningful content. Any character development for Deangelo is pointless if Ferrell isn’t staying on for the next season, as are all of the other characters’ interactions with him.
What we’re left with, then, is what feels like filler before a star-studded finale that exists for the sole reason of being a star-studded finale.
Parks and Recreation
In an otherwise disappointing week, ‘Parks and Recreation’ pulls out a good one.
‘Eagleton’ features actress Parker Posey in a role made just for her. She plays the dismissive Lindsay Carlisle Shay brilliantly, and makes an excellent foe for Leslie, who’s prepared to be her usual positive self in the face of unbelievable rudeness.
The birthday angle between Ron and Leslie is a good one too. We see Ron fighting against Leslie’s desire to celebrate his birthday, and then finally giving in and accepting his fate. Of course, that surprise party he was dreading never comes. Instead, he’s greeted with a steak and his favorite film. Not a bad way to go.
Also fun to watch is the incredible disparity between Eagleton and Pawnee. Even the jails in Eagleton are fully decked out with gift baskets and great food – something we find out when Leslie is thrown in jail for attacking her former friend and current rival.
This episode of ’30 Rock’ suffers the same thing as ‘Community’. It’s as if the writers put together a list of things that worked in the past and crammed them into one episode.
Tracy annoying Liz while she tries to relax? Check. Jenna trying to do something for the sake of her career and alienating her boyfriend? Check. Nerdy writers being nerdy writers? Check. A character putting the moves on Kenneth in a disturbing way? That’s a big check.
This season hasn’t been a great one for ’30 Rock’, but things would have ended a lot more smoothly if ‘Everything Sunny All the Time Always’ or ‘100’ had been the finale. Extending the show into the off-season break really doesn’t add much except to reinforce what’s already been established.
The folks at ’30 Rock’ have been slipping, but hopefully this break between seasons is enough to get them up and running again. The show was great once and it can get there again. Hopefully.
[Banner image screen cap from TVPix.net.]