Tag Archives: Thursday Night TV Club

Reviewing the Finales: The Office – “The Job”

The Office closed its season tonight with a series of job interviews, a new regime taking over the Office, and a set of boobs which Michael can’t ignore in “The Job”. The series’ second season ended with a high note, closing with the epic “Casino Night”. It had everything: moments for every supporting character, Michael with a low-key and charming love triangle, and of course…the kiss heard round the world. And, while “The Job” was certainly not a terrible hour of television, it failed to live up to all of the qualities which made Casino Night so great.

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Reviewing the Finales: Scrubs – “My Rabbit / My Point of No Return”

Scrubs has ended its sixth season with a cliffhanger that would have been a terrible, terrible end to the series, should it have not been renewed earlier this week. And yet, still, it wasn’t really much of a season finale either. The show has been asking us to accept something at the end of this season, and without it the entire thing falls apart. Scrubs is asking its audience to accept that J.D. and Elliot are mean to be together…and I don’t think they are, and I don’t think the show can convince me of it. But, try they did within “My Rabbit /My Point of No Return.”

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Thursday Night TV Club (May 10) – ‘The Office’: “Beach Games”

I feel somewhat vindicated: just earlier this evening I took the time to write a blog post about my five favourite supporting characters on the show, and NBC proceeds to roll out an episode of ‘The Office’ that features every single one of them…except one. Each character had their moment to shine, and that’s really what an episode like this is good for.

I need to thank them for bringing more Stanley into my life. Between being threatened with the back of the bus, and his reaction to becoming one of the competitors, Stanley took his role and turned it up a notch. He was as cantankerous as ever, and for that we must be thankful.

However, I am somewhat alarmed to learn that Jan, one of my selections, has unfortunately disappeared from the cast as far as I can tell. I really hope that this was just me missing her name, but I don’t believe it was. Considering they added Ed Helms to the cast, that probably makes sense, but if last week is seriously the last we see of Jan? I am going to be pissed. Her role as antagonist was too good to give up this easily, and I can only hope she returns in time.

And, to be honest, I think it was a mildly weak episode for Creed. Sure, he was just as odd as per usual, what with catching a fish with his bare hands and then eating it raw, but it seemed like “Creed is weird, get it?” as opposed to something different. It was lip service to the character’s oddities, which at least justified what I said about his character but didn’t really give me anything to cheer about.

You could really say the same about Kelly, although her one major exchange was more than enough to satisfy me. Her reference point for Bob Hope became Amanda Bynes, which was more than enough for me to claim it a victory for her character. Still, she didn’t really get a big role her as the focus of the episode was on the sales team, which she is ostensibly not a part of.

And, as we see, neither is Toby, and yet he came to the table with some of his best material yet. He flirted with Pam (Missing her in a two-piece almost broke his poor heart), he was at odds with Michael, and once again his depressed status made for some fantastic comedy within the episode.

Of course, really, this episode wasn’t really about the supporting players, but rather the future of the show’s leads. Michael has big plans for his corporate job that he’s interviewing for, and wishes to see which of his senior staff could theoretically take over from him. Of course, in doing so, Jim and Karen get fed up with his antics and each decide to interview for the position themselves.

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Thursday Night TV Club Memo: NBC Supersized, 10pm Guests

This is just a quick note for what promises to be a hectic Thursday evening. Thanks to some unfortunate circumstances, I am faced with a very large dilemma: there’s way too much TV on tonight, and I’m not going to be able to watch it all within the next day since…my “VCR” is out of commission. *Cough* Ahem.

As a result, I’m going to have to choose carefully what I choose to watch.

ABC

ABC’s got a fairly strong lineup, to be honest; Ugly Betty (8pm)is heading towards its finale with some momentum behind the Betty/Henry romance, Grey’s Anatomy (9pm) is certainly dramatic with its George/Izzie issues, and the new drama Traveler is something to consider…but at the same time there’s nothing pressing about watching these particular shows. I already watched Traveler (10:01pm) last summer, Ugly Betty is unlikely to be spoiled for me, and Grey’s has been far too annoying recently considering I still think this George/Izzie thing is just plain stupid.

CBS

CBS has a unique schedule as well, tonight, with a former friend occupying the 10pm slot. However, it starts at 8pm with the penultimate episode of Survivor: Fiji. I’ve been following the season, and feel obligated to see it through to the finale this time (I missed the finale last season). It’s nothing too interesting, but it’s also the most likely to be spoiled for me tomorrow. CBS then loses my interest, but gains the interest of others with a new episode of CSI at 9pm, followed by the return of Without a Trace at 10pm on Thursdays for its 5th Season Finale. Considering that recent timeslot occupant Shark is likely to depart the timeslot, could it be moving back full time? It’s possible.

NBC

Here’s where the real problem lies, because NBC is once again going with a Supersized lineup this evening. My Name is Earl’s 2nd Season Finale runs from 8:00pm EST to 8:40, and then The Office runs from 8:40 to 9:20, followed by Scrubs from 9:20 to 10:00pm. They close the night with the rapidly declining ER (Hitting Grey’s last week was not good for the show), but it’s a real scheduling conundrum regardless of what airs at 10pm.

If I watch the NBC comedies (Well, The Office and Scrubs) I’m watching less TV than I could if I watch Survivor and Grey’s instead. Heck, think about how awful it would be if I was not appalled by FOX’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and wanted to watch its two back-to-back episodes where someone attempts the Million dollar question? Or, if I was addicted to Supernatural and Smallville, airing new episodes on The CW (I totally almost wrote fresh episodes, damn you The WB! *Shakes Fist*)?

It’s quite a night for the Thursday Night TV Club…I’ll check in later with details on what I watched, but if you have any suggestions please let me know. And, for the love of all things good, don’t forget that The Office is supersized and miss any of it when TiVoing!

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Thursday Night TV Club Showdown: April 26th, 2007

Three comedies. Three episodes. Two guest stars. One product recall. One season finale. And, in the end, one champion. Will the victor be The Office, recently named the show with the greatest percentage viewer increase through same-week DVR viewings? Or perhaps 30 Rock, the little show that could celebrating its 1st Season finale with a 2nd in the bag, despite some Alec Baldwin-related drama? Or could it be the veteran Scrubs, still facing a possible cancellation and coming off of an overly emotional story arc around a character death? We’ll have to find out.

The Office“Product Recall”

It opened with perhaps the best cold open in weeks, featuring Jim mimicking Dwight to a tee. It continued with an episode that featured, for perhaps the first time in weeks, a moment for every single character.

We’ve got Dwight preparing the Office for a press conference by placing Karen, Ryan and Pam out front while placing a plant in front of Phyllis. We’ve got Andy and Jim’s bonding on the school visit over some “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (No one can possibly resist a good “Awimbawa”). We’ve got Michael botching a press conference and threatening to call the “Ungrateful Biatch Hotline” in front of a reporter. Then you have Angela making customer service calls, Kelly breaking into some B-A-N-A-N-A-S, Creed being his usual sketchy self in delightful fashion, and…it was just a fantastic ensemble episode of the office. It didn’t get too caught up in recurring storylines, and yet still seemed believable (Unlike Michael’s trip to the roof during safety training). It was grounded, strong in character, and is perhaps one of the best episode’s of the season.

30 Rock“Hiatus”

30 Rock delivered some good laughs, including a few from guest star Sean Hayes, but the problem is that it was really much more mired up in recurring storylines that never really came to a satisfactory conclusion. Tina Fey is a great comedy writer, she really is, but she isn’t used to “season long storyline arcs” or “season finales.” The result, really, is an episode that kind of felt like the episode of The Girlie Show within the episode itself: it was too short, too uneventful, and some of it just wasn’t funny enough.

I like that it dealt with some things extremely well (Colleen, Jack’s Mother, was bloody delightful, and the Star Wars references were cute), but parts of it just didn’t seem necessary. The Office has built a mythology which has allowed its more plot driven episodes to have meaning, but 30 Rock hasn’t done this yet. It needs to build to that point, and it hasn’t done it yet; Liz’s breakup with Floyd and Jack’s with Phoebe felt like meaningless diversions to build to some form of dramatic conclusion that was neither a) conclusive or b) dramatic. It just kind of all ended…with some funny lines throughout, but it wasn’t what a finale really needs to be. I’d almost rather it forget about the drama altogether and stick to make tight, slick half-hours of television.

Scrubs“My Turf War”

Perhaps in the exact opposite direction to The Office or 30 Rock, I actually quite prefer Scrubs when it heads into more dramatic character territory. Too often recently the show has gone to quirky comedy as a first resort. For perhaps the first time in a long time, Scrubs came to the table with an episode that reminded me of the season one episodes I’ve been enjoying recently. It was structured in ways that dealt with each character to a certain degree, and ended on a “cliffhanger” that felt actually, well, real.

It attacked on two fronts, instead of trying to cover nearly four of them as in past weeks. It introduced guest star Keri Russell as a college sorority sister for Elliot, who was funny enough and brought some actual tension into a relationship we haven’t seen in weeks: J.D. and Elliot. Their dynamic is a great part of past seasons, and it was nice of them to return to it in a non-sexual way…well, for now, anyways. And then, concurrently, they were able to deal with the battle between Dr. Cox and Turk, long raging, in a real fashion. The Janitor had his own little subplot that was in the background, Carla and Dr. Kelso had a small role, and the episode ended with Keith proposing to Elliot as J.D. realizes that being Elliot’s best friend might not be as easy now. It had dramatic impact, it had real character shifts, and it had a sense of an ensemble that it hasn’t had in awhile.

And the winner is…

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Thursday Night TV Club – April 19th, 2007

 

I really don’t have much to say about last night’s episodes, to be entirely honest with you. While I watched everything that was new, I honestly felt that every single show just treaded water outside of one. That one, surprisingly enough, was the one show which seems to be falling off the cultural radar.

While I gave 30 Rock credit last week for continuing storylines over multiple episodes, this week was…just the same as last week. It’s disappointing to see Floyd leave, really, but at least it keeps the show from becoming complacent. This episode was exactly the same as last week’s, in most ways, except this time we had a small dose of Jenna (And yet even the writers seemed begrudging about it, keeping her out of most key storylines and dissing her ability to carry the show in Tracy’s absence). I thought some of her lines were funny, but then they had her trying on underwear and falling down. The character is simply out of steam. Jack’s relationship with Phoebe is frustratingly dull, and the only character currently surviving is Tracy, mainly for the Black Crusaders portion of his storyline. And even then it was fairly low on the comedy scale outside of Gordon from Sesame Street being one of its inner circle. Liz’s trip to Cleveland was cute, but it was all wrapped up in the same cloth as last week’s episode.

Scrubs was on the same boat, as it was one of their annoying “Let’s have other people do the voiceovers” episodes. I think that it wasn’t a half bad episode of Scrubs based on this season’s standards, but I’ve been watching Season One on DVD recently and I can’t help but compare. I do not care about Elliot and Keith, stripper pole or no stripper pole. Ted is fairly boring, and him standing up to Kelso felt dated. Jordan has lost much of her character depth since the intense botox treatments, and I don’t think she really demands our attention. And, while I love The Todd and felt that his internal dialogue was by far the most interesting (and actually funny), it still wasn’t much of a real storyline. All three of the focused-upon characters are never going to actually become anything important, so why bother spending so much time on them when it will all be forgotten by next week?

Speaking of forgotten, I was woefully bored with this week’s episode of Ugly Betty. I enjoy the show, but this episode just did absolutely nothing for me. Wilhelmina seducing Bradford just isn’t entertaining to watch, and Daniel sleeping with a 16-year old is decidedly regressive (moreso than it really needs to be). The show was rolling at a really good clip dramatically for awhile, but this episode dropped the major component of this: Henry. Christopher Gorham’s likable accountant was the thing that kept Betty on track, and watching her fall off the rails wasn’t good television in the least. The show lacked the charm of the rest of the season, and its darker turns don’t seem like the right step forward for the show…and the less said about the terrible Ignacio storyline the better.

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Thursday Night TV Club – April 12th, 2007

[Another week, another set of repeats from Thrusday Night’s dramas. The result? Another Thursday Night TV Club focused on NBC’s Comedy Night Done Right.]

The Office

“Safety Training”

This week’s episode of The Office represents an important development for the series: it’s its first attempt to officially integrate a new character into its motley crew of characters. There was very little of Andy, except for Dwight shunning him, and it’s kind of tough for us to really accept him or notice him early in the episode. And, while I think that this would have been fine if the rest of the episode was very successful at providing comedy, it just really wasn’t that great a half hour of the show.

The episode instead dealt with…well, nothing really. After a series of episodes which offered either broad comedy or real plot development, it’s weird to see the show head back to its old roots in ridiculous office situations. This doesn’t mean the show isn’t funny, or that the episode was a waste of time, but rather that it seems inconsequential. It didn’t show a real character shift in anyone, didn’t address any true issues in office work, and just felt like the show was treading water. Considering that we just came off an extended episode which was complicated and interesting, this just felt like a step in the wrong direction.

The focus on safety and Michael’s search to prove himself is nothing we haven’t seen before, and it never really got to be resolved in a meaningful way. The betting sideplot which accompanied it was cute, sure, but it hasn’t been asked to carry an episode since the days of Office Olympics (And even there it had real ramifications for characters). Instead, all we got was some rather humorous but not laugh-out-loud funny moments. The bets included: guessing the number of jelly beans, seeing how long Ryan can talk to Kelly (With sidebets regarding how many times she says ‘Awesome’ or mentions romantic comedies), and whether or not Creed will realize when they switch out his apple with a potato. He doesn’t. That being said, they were still very small-scale, and didn’t really make an impact.

And the problem was that this episode really did have to do something more than this. It really needed to integrate Andy into the office atmosphere and make me see a purpose for him: and it didn’t. Andy was shunned by Dwight, which was humorous, but it was humorous for Dwight and not for Andy. If all he’s going to do is be a nothing character, then why bring him back full time? And while I think he can be established with time, and this episode didn’t sink their ability to bring him into the cast, I really think that a better effort needing to be put forward.

30 Rock

“Corporate Crush”

Where the Office finds itself in a bit of a rut, 30 Rock is the exact opposite; every single one of its storylines is a continuation of last week’s episode, and it all feels natural and interconnected. It’s shown itself capable of balancing storylines, and yet managing to provide a varied smattering of comedy each week. It’s situational, it’s absurdist, and yet it remains grounded in the principles of the show as it was organized: Liz is a lovelorn writer, Jack is the powerful yet insecure executive, and Tracy is the absurd actor. In this episode, each of them got to grow as characters and show new sides of themselves. This is precisely what The Office didn’t manage to do, and why 30 Rock was the better show on this evening.

Liz and Floyd’s relationship was nice and established until Jack came along, and Floyd and Jack started mandating. Jack, you see, is struggling with depression ever since his fireworks extravaganza last week went horribly awry and Don Geiss (President of GE or something) took away his prized Microwave Oven division. After Liz tells him to stop trying to steal the Floydster (Jack’s nickname for Floyd), he decides to find his own Floydster by dating his art dealer, and then proposing to her in order to fulfill the executive stereotype brought up at the beginning of the episode. Meanwhile, Tracy tries to get his Norbit-style Jefferson biopic made, and even when he fails he decides to finance it himself.

See how that all relates back to last week’s episode? To the basic nature of these characters? To everything the show stands for? For actually managing to contribute to the show in a meaningful fashion, and yet remaining funny, 30 Rock succeeds once again.

Scrubs

“My Words of Wisdom”

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