Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'The Big Bang Theory', '30 Rock', 'Parks and Recreation', and 'Archer'...

TV Talk for Thursday, January 26th 2012

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8pm) - S5, Ep14: "The Beta Test Initiation" - 101 episodes in, I think we all learned something new about Sheldon (Jim Parsons) tonight: he has a whimsical side! His interest in flags, whether new or not, brought out a side of him that, dare I say it? Actually was fun! I wouldn't necessarily want to watch a 52-week vodcast about flags (and why 52 weeks? There are 50 states but literally hundreds more countries, each with their own flags, not to mention school, sports teams, etc...), but I would like to watch a vodcast where he and Amy (Mayim Bialik) act things out with puppets. Just go with it. Meanwhile, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) actually having conversations with Siri was just plain sad. I mean, I don't doubt that it has been happening since that technology was developed, but it's still sad. And I didn't think Raj was that bad off. He didn't even have to get drunk first to feel comfortable talking to the phone-- and I don't mean because he can't talk to attractive women sober, I just mean because no one has conversations with inanimate objects sober! Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) are a couple I have rooted for from the beginning, but there is no excuse for a smart, modern guy like Leonard not learning from the list mistake of Ross Gellar on Friends... Misstep aside, I'm happy to see that she still finds him adorable and that he's still willing to go outside his comfort zone for her. I just wish it was a little clearer what the intentions were for that couple. I'd hate to get too invested in them again if they're just going to break up again in a few episodes.

30 Rock (NBC, 8pm) - S6, Ep3: "Idiots Are People Three!" - Will Arnett may be on a new NBC sitcom that the network is actually cultivating, but when he popped up here tonight he spoke some disparaging truths about NBC being the Titanic (the ship). And I've sincerely missed this kind of commentary from this show. They take on their on network; they take on their own stars' pitfalls; they take on the insanity of comedy as a genre in general. I love it. I loved how Jack (Alec Baldwin) got sucked into yet another crazy scheme (this time for Devon) but only because he still holds tight to those deep-seated values of getting ahead in business at all costs-- even at what he thought was the cost of his own kid's own future, but most importantly I loved the fact that this show is smart enough to realize and point out that it is how hard you work at making yourself better that truly separates the idiots from the successes. I have no reason to believe Jack wouldn't have a complete heart attack if his daughter actually did have to go to public school, but that could lead to a fascinating episode down the line. Certainly much more interesting than the Best Friends Gang. Yikes, Grammar; just yikes. Though the episode still focused on Tracy (Tracy Morgan)'s own missteps in his insensitive rantings, in the end, even he wasn't an idiot in the truest sense of the word. He rejected Denise Richards' advances, and we have to give him some credit for the brains required for that. James Marsden may be Dennis Duffy 2.0, but I'm also glad he's sticking around. He has such a great smile and even better eyes, and he brings out a much more fun side to Liz (Tina Fey). You could argue that he's dumbing her down, but I like to think he's bringing out her less critical side. Though if she ever gets on board with the Entourage movie, we may have to call in an intervention. Also, I want a subordifriend. Inquire within...

Parks and Recreation (NBC, 8:30pm) - S4, Ep13: "Bowling For Votes" - I was really hoping it would be Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) to finally crack April (Aubrey Plaza), but if she couldn't do it, I guess the next best bet would have been Chris (Rob Lowe). The tag of this episode should have been a line-o-rama of April's weird adaptable phone voices. But not only does he clearly challenge her to actually try in ways Leslie should be he actually inspires her to care, too. That's a huge accomplishment. If April and Andy (Chris Pratt) weren't so darn cute, I'd want her to get more screentime with Chris. After all, he clearly needs some love. He's so darn cute, I don't know why he doesn't get more of it! Overall, though, this episode was weird for me. I was completely thrown off-guard by not being in the Pawnee offices; Tom (Aziz Ansari) was wearing gold shoes; Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) was actually not perfect at something; Leslie was trying desperately to make a misogynist love her. I don't know, it just felt like bizarro-Pawnee. But it did breed one of the best lines to ever come out of NBC (courtesy Ron Swanson, of course): "When I eat, it's the food that's scared."

30 Rock (NBC, 9pm) - S6, Ep4: "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell" - I still can't believe Maulik Pancholy chose Whitney over 30 Rock-- larger part or not. And I like to think 30 Rock can't believe it either, hence tonight's reference. Also a perfect (and coincidentally topical) reference? Demi Moore utilizing leeches for her skin. Or maybe to lose weight. But mostly I can't believe after all of this time, Liz (Tina Fey) and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) are still having the same fights. Sure, Jenna is more marginally famous now that she is also hosting a kids' talent show, but Liz has always known she is crazy and has alternatingly put up with it and blew up because of it. The final straw couldn't have been a little red paint on what I assume was not even her coat. But since this time around it caused Liz to declare she was looking for a new best friend, I went with it anyway. Even though we all know Jack (Alec Baldwin) is her real new best friend. Because I wanted to apply, even if it was reality show style. It's always only a matter of time before Liz comes around to Jenna, so what I really wanted to see was Amanda and Steffy making their own amends. I had this image of Steffy in my head as a struggling performance artist, maybe not unlike Maureen from RENT. Also, after all of these episodes, this was the first time we saw Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) without his page uniform on, right? It was weird and cold, and I didn't like it.

Archer (FX, 10pm) - S3, Ep5: "El Contador" - Is it terrible of me to say I was hoping Cyril (Chris Parnell) would crash and burn in the field? I mean, he wasn't entirely cut out for this line of work, but he certainly thought on his feet faster than Archer himself (H. Jon Benjamin) ever could. It was almost impressive, which I just found unfortunate. I have to admit, with Cyril doing half-decently, despite Parnell's dozen jobs, my money is now on Ray (Adam Reed) to be the one who perishes this season. Without him out in the field, he seems to be a bit useless. That is not a commentary on all characters in wheelchairs, so please don't send angry emails, but it is indicative of him, a spy who can't quite be stealthy or inconspicuous anymore, as we quite hilariously saw last week with the handicapped van chase sequences. Tonight Ray (along with Pam and Cheryl) was relegated to a funny but apropos of nothing subplot about drug testing at ISIS and the much more sinister testing that one of their own likes to do. It felt a little out of place when held up against the backdrop of the poignant field mission. Come on, drug trafficking, hunting humans for sport, and Archer having to play second fiddle to Cyril? That's BIG stuff. Lana (Aisha Tyler) may have ill feelings toward Cyril for his "not-real sex addiction," but I don't know, working alongside him in the field may have her seeing him in a whole new light. Of course, she'll still have to save his ass once in a while, but that's really a given. She clearly is the most competent one on the whole team. I'd actually love to see an episode going home with her to learn exactly why she still sticks it out with the rest of the yahoos! Actually, I'd also like to see an episode going home with Krieger (Lucky Yates). He's just the right kind of twisted!

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