A lot happened on NBC’s Thursday night comedies last week, but the big story was the final episode of ‘The Office’ with Steve Carell as Michael Scott.
When the ultimate blow-off class gets crashed by the dean, it seems as if the study group is up a creek without a paddle. Luckily – if such a thing can be considered lucky – Shirley goes into labor. With no way to get to the hospital, she has to deliver the baby right in class.
One of the best moments in the episode happens when Abed references the background action from episode ‘The Psychology of Letting Go’, in which he delivered a baby without most viewers even noticing. Josh did, though – thanks to a little help from YouTube.
Another highlight of this episode for me is the humanization of Chang. He’s frustrating and annoying when he’s too cartoony, but when given the opportunity, he really comes through in comforting Shirley. So much so that she names the baby Ben.
There’s a line from Britta that I almost used as the headline, but the Michael Scott thing takes precedence. When talking about how humans are destined for greatness, she says in all seriousness, “I just yanked a little dude out of my friend!”
The next two episodes (the last of the season) are called ‘A Fist Full of Paintballs’ and ‘For a Few Paintballs More’. Color me excited. I think it’s a pinkish color.
Parks and Recreation
‘Parks and Recreation’ is great this week, but it’s not the main storyline that wins out. Leslie’s quest to keep a painting that resembles her is funny, and there are some really interesting stops along the way, but it takes second place to Ben moving in with Andy and April.
Ben is trying to find a place to stay, and ends up moving in with Andy and April, who don’t have the know-how or the desire to keep their place clean. They also don’t have any of the basic things that a house needs, like plates.
Ben helps them to shape up. Although Andy is willing to do it, April is a reluctant, worrying that the pair will turn into boring grown-ups. In the end, Andy shows that it’s possible to be somewhat responsible while still being fun.
Andy also figures out that Ben and Leslie are into one another and gives his blessing to Ben, comparing the two to himself and April.
If the Andy/April/Ben thing keeps going on, we’re in for some excellent shows for the rest of the season.
‘Goodbye, Michael’ is an incredibly manipulative episode of ‘The Office’ written to play on your emotions and make you weep like a wee girl. That’s not an insult or a complaint, though. The episode is bittersweet brilliance.
From the onset, it’s clear that ‘Goodbye, Michael’ is going to be a tearjerker – or as close as ‘The Office’ gets to a proper tearjerker. Already red-eyed in his office, when Michael starts giving out goodbye gifts, it becomes clear that he’s doing much more than leaving for the day.
There are plenty of funny moments with Andy and Deangelo, as well as a very strange interaction or two involving Gabe, who looks scared to death even while he’s threatening someone. It’s all good, but there are two scenes that really stand out as great.
The first is the goodbye scene between Jim and Michael. Jim realizes what’s going on, confronts Michael about it, and has a really nice conversation with him. They say things without saying them directly, and it’s a great moment for the both of them.
The second, and the one that really strikes home the fact that not only is Michael leaving, but Steve Carell as well, is the one between him and Pam at the airport. They say their goodbyes, but with Michael’s microphone off, so we don’t hear what’s being said.
I may not have loved the Michael storylines over the last two seasons, but looking back at the entire series, it’s a bit sad to see him go. Whether Ferrell replaces him or someone else, it’s going to be hard to fill those shoes.
I’m trying hard to give ’30 Rock’ the benefit of the doubt, but like the previous season of ‘The Office’, there are more disappointing episodes than good ones. This one falls into the category of disappointing, which is a shame for a series that had such an incredible start.
The show has gone off the deep end when it comes to realism. In early seasons, episodes revolved around the characters and generally realistic situations. Tracy Jordan goes on Conan while off of his medication, Liz quits to work with an idol, Devon Banks and Jack jockey for position, etc. These are all reasonable plots with plenty of room for comedy.
Avery being captured by Kim Jong-il really isn’t. It’s too far, too out there, and too cartoony. It takes me out of the show and just makes me stop caring. The joke the writers seem to be going for is that Jack’s major problem and the very minor problem that Liz is having are equally important to them both. But the storylines feel disconnected, and it doesn’t work.
The much more realistic issue involves Tracy, strangely enough. He missed out on a joke that the rest of his entourage is in on, and he feels left out. It’s something everyone can relate to, and it allows the character of Tracy Jordan to take things to the next level.
I was a big fan of the first three seasons of ’30 Rock’, and season four had some really solid episodes, but season five just doesn’t work. Hopefully we’ll see an improvement next year.