Thursday Night TV Club – April 5th, 2007

Supersized Comedy Night

Done Right

NBC’s Funny Foresome

So, while the last edition of Thursday Night TV Club dealt with primarily ABC’s drama lineup, this week provided a unique two and a half hours of fresh comedy at NBC. Supersized episodes of The Office, 30 Rock and Scrubs coupled with a new Andy Barker resulted in a very satisfying night of comedy. How satisfying was it? Well, I actually have a specific positive thing to say about every episode. This is quite rare, especially with a show like Scrubs that I’ve criticized often in the past.

But, the reality is that each show stepped up to the plate in their own way, and each deserves a special Thursday Night TV Club Award of Recognition.

Award of Recognition for the

Most Well-Negotiated Return

The Office – “The Negotiation”

After a long break, The Office returned with an episode that did everything right in such a situation. Having gone on hiatus with the dramatic ‘Cocktails,’ the show needed to balance the drama of Roy’s anger with the comedic elements the show is known for. The show took that drama and managed it; there was no true confrontation between Jim and Pam, there was no on-screen discussion of the scenario, it just happened in the cold open and was dealt with off-screen. This was a strong decision, and shows the deft touch of the show’s producers.

What it allowed was for the comedy to move forward. Whether it was Dwight the hero and Jim’s attempts to be nice to him, Angela’s sexual excitement over Dwight’s actions or Toby’s continued torture at the hands of Kelly, the show was packed with the type of character interactions that are integral to the show’s dynamic. Michael’s salary negotiation helped to reveal more regarding his relationship with Jan, his hatred of Toby and the show managed to return after a dramatic event without missing a beat. It was a well-negotiated return indeed for the recent Peabody winners.

Award of Recognition for the

Best Justification of Renewal

30 Rock – “Fireworks”

Tina Fey’s sitcom was recently renewed for a 2nd season and tonight’s episode showed why. It was balancing all of the show’s elements with deft coordination throughout the episode. It dealt with Liz’s relationship problems, Tracy’s Paranoia, Jack’s insecurities, Special Guest Stars like Will Arnett, and the usual office madness which occurs. And yet, the show managed to do with ease. Liz’s relationship with Floyd went through a logical pattern, Will Arnett was as awesome as ever (“TV. On your PHONE!” I was just waiting for the ‘Come on!’). It was fantastic.

I’ve since realized why this might have been the case: Jane Krakowski’s Jenna was nowhere to be found. While her character isn’t a curse on the episodes she is in, the show just seems to work that much better without her. The character of Jenna just doesn’t seem necessary at this point, as this episode showed; did anyone really miss Jenna? Either way, the show continued its consistent streak, which was a powerful reminder as to why NBC made the decision to renew the show in the first place.

However, we can’t forget the show’s greatest moment: Tracy dreams that he is on Maury Povich to find his biological father, which is Alec Baldwin playing Thomas Jefferson, and hilarity ensues. I loves me some Maury.

Award of Recognition for the

Best Return to Real Drama

Scrubs – “My Long Goodbye”

I’ve complained in the past that Scrubs has been frustrating me lately with their inability to handle serious topics, well, seriously. However, this week represented a triumph for the show’s ability to deal with dramatic subjects: Laverne’s death was handled with the utmost of care, and held true emotional resonance for Carla. Although the show had its comedic elements (Such as J.D.’s godfather journey), Carla’s hallucination was a nice medium between the comic and dramatic which allowed for the episode’s conclusion to truly mean something.

My only concern is that it took the death of a real character for this drama to come forward; since the show’s can’t just keep killing off its characters, I worry that it will fall back into its old patterns all over again. Despite all of this, I think that Scrubs has proven itself; I am now fully in favour of Scrubs sticking around as long as it moves to ABC. I think it’s time is up for NBC, but the show has a little bit of life in it yet.

Award of Recognition for

Best Lack of Sucking

Andy Barker P.I. – “Dial M for Laptop”

Andy Barker is now officially 4 for 4 in terms of continuing to execute well on its initial premise. Andy’s balance of accounting and P.I. work continues to be engaging, the supporting characters continue to work well, and in general the premise just clicks. There’s nothing here that justifies its renewal, especially in the wake of its already short set of episodes.

And yet, I’m enjoying it while it lasts. It hasn’t sucked yet, and in general I think that’s how we should judge short-run shows like this. Its consistency is what defined it, and Andy Barker continues to deliver. If I ever need a mystery solved AND file my tax reform, I’ll give Andy Barker a call.

5 Comments

Filed under 30 Rock, NBC, Scrubs, Television, The Office

5 responses to “Thursday Night TV Club – April 5th, 2007

  1. yay and yay and yay and yay, I say!

    Thursday nights at NBC is the most satisfying weekly viewership experience. NBC did screw up by keeping The Office and 30 Rock on hiatus far too long, but did good (at least by me) with these supersized episodes.

    What I want to see: Less super-serious drama from the Office and more workplace day-to-day drama. I always find the really, really serious stuff a little forced and over the top, but I know why they do it. But some people– namely my blogging buddy Matt– loves the stuff. It’s like candy for him. It’s not terrible, it’s just not my favorite.

    I love 30 Rock. I, too, was glad to see Jenna missing from the line-up this week. Kenneth is slowly turning into my favorite tv-nerd ever and Tina Fey is coming into her own with this show. I do think she really needs to move away from ‘bits’ and concentrate more on character development. Maybe next season, when she’s two years past SNL?

    I agree with you completely on Scrubs and Andy Barker. Aww, Myles, you’re so smart.

  2. I’m not sure that Tina Fey can ever get the SNL out of here, and I’ll say right now that it’s been fairly mediated since the beginning of the season. The show has found a voice of its own. I must now edit this post to reflect Maury genius.

  3. I SEE that!

    Tsk, Myles. Oh well, I’ll let it slide. If I catch this episode a second time, I’ll give it a critical once (twice?)- over. Over all, it was a really good episode! I was pleased!

  4. Holy crap, I never even noticed Jenna was gone…I guess that says something.

  5. Will Arnett was terrific on 30 Rock last night.

    For more on him, check out the Will Arnett Research Project at http://blutharnett.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply to Memles Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s