NBC Thursday Night Comedy 9/23/10 Recap: “You’re Back! Let Me Smell Your Head!”

Welcome back, NBC Thursday night! I’ve missed you, for the most part. You’ve brought me a lot of joy and I’m looking forward to another year, even if you did push back one of my favorites for the new show ‘Outsourced.’

NBC’s Thursday night lineup kicks off tonight and I’m just now realizing that ‘Parks and Recreation’ isn’t going to be on. I know it’s been moved to a mid season replacement (due to Amy Poehler’s pregnancy) and we’ll see it later, but it’s a genuinely good show and I’m bummed that such a consistently funny half hour is missing from the lineup. Still, ‘Outsourced’ could end up being really funny as well.

Community

There’s something wonderful about the way the show just picks right up. Clearly, the characters had a whole summer in which to communicate, but apparently they didn’t. Not much anyway.

The great thing about this episode is that even though ‘Anthropology 101’ is a very typical character- and drama-heavy season opener, the fact is acknowledged early on by Abed, which makes it a lot easier to deal with.

The episode lacks some humor, especially in the really heavy end to the second act, but it seems to make up for it in the end. Then again, the George Clooney impersonator at the impromptu wedding is a brilliant touch.

Two big things stand out with this episode. The first is Ken Jeong, who plays Señor Chang. The man’s hilarious, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a fellow Detroiter. Every single pun on his name had me laughing, especially the final one – ” Is there any room in this pocket for a little spare Chang?”

The second is Betty White, who I like quite a bit less. Yes, we get it, she’s a sweet old woman doing uncharacteristically disgusting or violent things. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and I’m just glad she’s only in the one episode. I’d say that Bettie White is the new zombies, but I liked the zombie bandwagon once.

The ending gag with Troy, Abed and Betty White singing ‘Africa’ is nice, but you just can’t beat the original. What can I say? I love Toto.

30 Rock

I really like the start of this episode, featuring Jack looking uncharacteristically bedraggled. Liz picks up on it right away, even though they’re just talking over the phone. “You sound weird, do you have a beard?”

They should really reshoot the intro about now. Five years isn’t a lot of time, but some of the actors are starting to look a bit older. I believe ‘The Office’ changes it up every season and ’30 Rock’ should really do the same. That’s probably the only way ’30 Rock’ should mimic ‘The Office,’ though. Let’s keep things funny.

Tracy Jordan’s hallucinations of Kenneth are entertaining, and it’s neat seeing Jenna actually be really good at something. It isn’t exactly brilliant comedy, but a nice way to switch things up.

Matt Damon is his usual brilliant self, and the interactions between Liz and Carol are entertaining enough. Jack’s seduction of the interior designer is probably the standout moment for me. Alec Baldwin just has a way of making me laugh.

Again, it’s a season premiere, which means a lot of character work and not much comedy. Still, it’s far from bad.

The Office

It’s the beginning of the end for Steve Carell, and that means it’s the beginning of the end for Michael Scott. At this point, it seems like a good move, especially with some of the rumors kicking around for replacements like Harvey Keitel and Danny McBride. I’d kill (no, not really) to see Will Arnett take over. Better yet, Ricky Gervais, but that just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.

The episode starts in the fashion of ‘The Office’ over the last few seasons – self indulgent and not funny. I just don’t get the dance number that starts the show, but maybe I missed something.

I’d love to excuse that intro and say that the rest of the episode is great, but it really isn’t. Maybe I’m somehow missing the jokes. I do have to admit that I walked away for a minute to get myself a bowl of ice cream. Perhaps the funny part happened then?

I’m pretty hard on ‘The Office,’ but that’s only because I know how good it can be. I remember the first few seasons when things were funny and Michael Scott was a lovable, forgivable bumbling idiot, rather than whatever it is he’s turned into now

So let’s talk plot. Michael hires his nephew as an intern, and the kid completely sucks at the job. Michael tries to defend said nephew and ends up having to discipline him. He does this by bending his nephew over a desk and spanking him. This is after the rest of the office staff breaks into the kid’s car.

Meanwhile, Pam ruins one of Jim’s pranks and decides to pull a prank of her own. It goes wrong, trapping her in the elevator with Dwight. This is potential for comedy gold, but all we get is a pee joke, which ends up being brought back later by Jim.

For a comedy show, there isn’t much funny in ‘The Office’ this week. With a Michael/Toby counseling session happening soon, I have high hopes. I’ve always liked Toby.

Outsourced

Pilots are hard. They’re full of character development and completely lack the actual soul of the show. I didn’t like the first episode of ‘Firefly‘ when I first saw it, and I didn’t like the first episode of ‘Futurama’ either. Now, both are among my favorite shows. The point is, it’s hard to judge a show based on the pilot.

The first episode of ‘Outsourced’ isn’t great. Most of the jokes are of the “Indians and Americans are different” variety that you’d expect from a bad stand-up comic. The food is spicy, they consider cows holy and they’ve got a different kind of work ethic. Fine.

About halfway through the first episode, our hero Todd Dempsy decides that his Indian employees need to learn more about American culture. This is somehow accomplished by having one of them do lines from ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ and having another sing “Don’t Cha.” Apparently, this works.

The show just seems really lazy, and seems to want to poke fun at Indian customs and traditions. That may be fine for the right audience, but I’m not it. I don’t know anything about India aside from what I’ve picked up from my one trip to Bombay Grill for some takeout. I just can’t relate.

‘Outsourced’ is based on a movie that seems to have been pretty well received. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t really comment as to how well it came across as an adaptation. It’s available for streaming on Netflix, so I may have to check it out. I’m guessing the transition between the two didn’t go well.

I’m going to give ‘Outsourced’ a few more episodes to prove itself to me, and maybe it will. If not, NBC Thursday is going to start ending at 9:30 in the Ward house. Well, apartment. Well, half of an apartment.

2 comments

  1. Adam

    This was, by far, my most anticipated night of television in several months. I LOVE the Thursday night block on NBC. The Office has definitely declined over the past couple of seasons, but I love 30 Rock and Community and even enjoy Parks and Rec.

    I thought Community had some down moments, and I do miss Senor Chang as actually Senor Chang, but directly addressing the Jeff/Annie/Britta mess and moving away from it seemed to be a very good idea. It took a messy situation from last season and the potential for a season of schmaltzy love interest between Jeff and Annie and, probably wisely, ran in the opposite direction. Putting Jeff together long-term with one of the central cast is a recipe for disaster, especially this early in the show’s life. And I have to admit, I did laugh out loud when Betty White attacked Jeff with the tool-weapon.

    30 Rock was pretty good, and I do love Matt Damon’s character. Hopefully he sticks around for a while, though I don’t have any crazy ideas of him becoming a regular. By the way, The Office kept the same opening credits until midway through season 5. I think the fire safety/Stanley heart attack episode after the Super Bowl was the first time they mixed it up. It was sort of an intentional point to leave it alone. I actually miss the old credits, and I think the changing of the credits was one of many signals that the show was heading down the hill, rather than staying on top. I thought this episode of The Office was ok, better than quite a bit of last season, but nothing great. The whole Sabre mess is just ridiculous. I really miss David Wallace, actually.

    I was halfway excited for Outsourced, given how much NBC had pimped it (though in defense of NBC, they don’t have many actually good shows to promote), but I wasn’t really hooked. For me, it was sort of a mix between “eh” and borderline offensive. Any jokes or comedy came pretty much like you said from pointing out differences between the two cultures. Maybe it’s just me, or the fact that I have an Indian boss, but some of the stuff was just stupid and offensive. Seriously, did they need to name a character Manmeet? I’ll give it a couple of episodes before I delete it. Maybe they’ll kill it and put P&R back in its slot.

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