Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: '30 Rock', 'Parks and Recreation', and 'Awake'...

TV Talk for Thursday, March 8th 2012

30 Rock (NBC, 8pm) - S6, Ep10: "Standards & Practices" -
"Condom accidents." Oh, Jenna (Jane Krakowski), you're so wrong and yet so right. Sometimes you're too much for me, but not tonight. Not even with six little blond demon spawn following in your footsteps. Well, five plus one who might as well have been Liz' (Tina Fey) kid. I mean, her name was even Judy! Actually, if egg donation wasn't such an invasive procedure, I would have assumed Jenna actually did "borrow" some from Liz with that one. Last week I told you I thought Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) had finally found his perfect match in S&P, and though I don't like censors, nor do I think a show like this one going so meta they respond to all the things their network makes them lower themselves to do is a good idea, I enjoyed watching him have his little power trip-- and then I really enjoyed the crying the bathroom even more, despite the fact that it basically meant he wasn't cut out for the gig and would probably be back in a page jacket in just a few scenes. That would have been a huge bummer. It took a few years, but finally he got to move up. He'd never really "grow" as a character-- none of these characters really will-- but he had his movement. That's something, right? Maybe Fey just really loves bathroom scenes; maybe it doesn't have to be indicative of failure. We're all entitled to feeling overwhelmed and taking a moment. She could do a one woman show in a stall, and I'd be in the first row every night. Also, if The Carrie Diaries has to happen, Chloe Moretz should have been cast as the young fashionite. Even if she did look eerily like Meg Ryan tonight. She completely made this episode for me, and right now I'm enjoying watching her give Jack (Alec Baldwin) a little taste of what he's in for with a daughter of his own more than anything else. So many people think Jack and Liz are soulmates, but I think Jack and Kaylie are. No one else can push his buttons or actually get the best of him business-wise, like her. She's everything Devon Banks hoped to be! She pushes him; he pushes her; again, if she didn't look so much like Meg Ryan it'd be cute. But because she looks like Meg Ryan there were moments when it got a little uncomfortable. But what else was glorious tonight? Let's see, the American Girl doll in the vice, the jab at USC, and did Liz put a Twizzler on her sandwich!? Ah, 3o Rock, when you're good, you're great!

Parks and Recreation (NBC, 8:30pm) - S4, Ep18: "Lucky" - Nick Offerman makes me giggle like, well, Ron Swanson when he giggles as Ron Swanson, but tonight also taught me he can make me giggle like that using just his words. And maybe a little drunk Leslie (Amy Poehler). "We'll let you pay for your own food because of equality." Oh Offerman...and Andy. Sweet, sweet, child Andy who really looks like a baby without facial hair. I'm proud of him for passing his Women's Studies course, and I know the show is focusing on Leslie's campaign for the rest of the season, but I'd like to see him enroll in something else and actually go to class with him once in awhile. I can only imagine the kinds of characters he'd befriend there. Or maybe I just really miss Community. From one comedy with no growth to another with a ton, tonight's episode was especially strong, in my opinion, because of all of the little moments between characters that said so much about them and where they're going at this point in their journeys. April (Aubrey Plaza) actually extending an olive branch to Chris (Rob Lowe) may have been an even bigger step than her taking on more responsibilities in the Parks Department. Ben (Adam Scott) putting his head down and working so hard for Leslie that he couldn't see anything past his initial task, including, sadly, Leslie's out of character behavior. Tom (Aziz Ansari) caring so much about his new relationship he tweaked his behavior to not offend Ann (Rashida Jones)-- but still never so much that he lost himself. Jerry (Jim O'Heir) finding a task he excels in. And did Donna (Retta) say she had to cancel a bath with some guy? Oh man, genius. The return of Ron's red shirt; another random townsperson who cares so much about Leslie he'd do her a huge favor-- this time without her even needing to ask; Sean Hayes reminding us why we fell in love with him on a sitcom so many years ago and why he should be back in front of cameras instead of producing for older demos; Leslie's wardrobe montage, especially her seemingly Grease inspired ensemble. Of course, anything set in an airport has a soft spot with me, but this show really doesn't need that little boost to endear itself to me.

Awake (NBC, 10pm) – S1, Ep2: “The Little Guy” – Sometimes there are shows that crop onto the scene and entice me so much I put off screening the second episode out of fear that it will never live up to my expectations and personal biases and theories about how I want the story to play out, versus how the show may actually indicate how it will play out. Unfortunately this season it appears Awake falls into that category. While the second episode was certainly just as well-written and well-produced as the pilot, it proved my concern that the story would stroll straightly down the procedural path, complete with suspect misdirect and complex motive. Sure, we still got glimpses of Michael (Jason Isaacs)’s inner struggle between both worlds. In a very Sliding Doors way, we even saw that others surrounding Michael fall victim to differences, ala the duality of universes on Fringe. In one world, Bernard McKenzie was a prominent, though awful, doctor, while in the other he was homeless. But this episode was so heavily focused on the cases at hand, and how once again Michael could use deep-rooted subconscious information to solve them both with the same clues, it left a lot for me personally to be desired. Utilizing the therapists as a way to “sum up” at the end of the episode was extremely disappointing because they should be providing additional conflict for Michael all along. However, I will say that Laura Allen gave a subtle but stellar performance, especially at the storage unit, and now I find myself much more attracted to her own struggles and emotional turmoil as the season goes on. Something about the way she played her instability in the pilot led me to believe she would just head down a path of self-medicating, but this brief burst of newfound confidence, and yes, happiness, was much less cliché. With Allen’s promise (Emmy-worthy!), as well as the addition of Laura Innes in what felt like her just planning her Event character better assimilated into human culture-- a tacked-on twist-- I am still interested enough to return for episode three. After all, Michael told his therapist that he “seem[ed] to be doing all right” now, which should promise an unraveling for him to come. Though, I will say the therapist scenes felt like hand-holding, especially when they only come at the end to "wrap things up." If the series doesn’t pick it up soon, though, I may be back for one more, and only one more.

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