Last week, I said that I wanted three things out of NBC. I wanted a more realistic ‘Community’, a less drama-filled ‘Office’, and an episode of ’30 Rock’. This week’s Thursday night comedy block delivered on all three fronts, but just barely.
I wanted a little more realism and I got ‘Aerodynamics of Gender’. It’s not that this is a bad episode, and it’s definitely not as far out there as the Halloween special, but boy does it feel cartoonish.
Abed decides to tag along with the girls to their Women’s Studies class, and ends up going all RoboCop by hurling insults at any girl that Britta, Shirley or Annie tell him to. It’s a good gag, though a bit of a self parody of Abed.
Jeff and Troy find a secret trampoline hidden away in a similarly secret garden. I have a feeling this is a movie reference (perhaps to the film ‘The Secret Garden’?), but since I haven’t seen the movie, it’s a bit lost on me. The out-of-character acting, the change in lighting, the soft focus, and everything else going into this are essential to make this segment work.
There are a few really great gags in the episode, such as the zoom-in/enhance parody with Pierce, and the friendly groundskeeper ending up as a horrible racist. But the segment with Pierce on the trampoline, with the terrible green screen and then the dummy flying through the air, takes away from my enjoyment of the show. It just feels cheap and unnecessary.
The ending gag deserves a lot of credit, though. The ambush ‘Troy and Abed in the Morning’ segment is really funny. I wonder if Starburns is going to snap one of these days.
’30 Rock’ is back, which is fantastic. The episode ‘Gentleman’s Intermission’ is not. Honestly, it just feels like a down episode through and through.
Jack is looking for a new protégé, which should be absolutely hilarious, but isn’t. Seeing Jonathan fail the test of ambition is funny, but there really could be more comedy with Tracy and Jenna. It all just feels too quick. Honestly, I think the show could have gone a few episodes with it, and dedicated more time to Jack and his new pupils.
Tracy isn’t happy with his pre-prepared celebrity obituary, and Jenna’s even less happy to find out that she isn’t important enough to deserve one. While Tracy quests to improve his reputation, Jenna decides to make her own obituary video. Tracy’s search is surprisingly unfunny, but Jenna’s obit video is good for a few laughs.
The highlight of the episode comes at the end, when Jack and Liz get back together as protégé and mentor. The phone call to Liz’s dad (“I’m a crooked cop, and my brother’s a crooked fireman.”) is easily the funniest thing in the show.
The cat that dialed 911… Not funny. C’mon, ’30 Rock’, you’re better than that.
‘The Office’ starts out with a great intro gag. Dwight takes an idea to the extreme and ends up paying for it. Jim sneezes in Dwights face, Andy sneezes on Dwight’s sandwich, Erin runs all the way from her desk to oblige the sneezing request. Funny stuff.
Dwight and Erin actually end up having some of the best lines in the episode despite how little they’re in it. Jim and Pam, on the other hand, just don’t do it for me. I know both characters have the potential to be funny, but the baby just seems to take it right out of them.
We get some evidence of Michael’s loneliness and lack of self-identity when he instantly decides that he loves a room full of people, but that’s nothing compared to when he decides to board a bus to Mexico to aid a youth group in a three-month construction project.
I’ve never gone to Mexico, and I’ve never done much in the way of church related volunteer work, but I’m positive that you can’t just get on a bus and join a youth group in a trip out of the country. Even suspending my disbelief on that point, I find it hard to believe that both Michael and Andy would think that going is a good idea.
Dwight steals the show for me with his constant attempts to use the church event to generate sales. Handing out business cards is slick, and standing up to offer the church a massive 4% discount during prayer is great.
My favorite line of the show is a quickie from Erin right at the end. “Get in quick!”, she yells as she pulls up to Michael and Andy to give them a lift home. Michael asks why, and Erin’s very earnest response is, “So it’s faster.”