Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Community', 'The Vampire Diaries', '30 Rock', and 'Parks and Recreation'...

TV Talk for Thursday, April 26th 2012

Community (NBC, 8pm) - S3, Ep14: "Basic Lupine Urology" - I just want to put this out there: I hate Law & Order. I find it repetitive and these days, reaching-- always trying to "top" themselves with crazy twists on the cases. So I had a special soft spot in my heart for the fact that Community was going to spoof (yes, I said spoof-- I choose to believe this is a parody and not an homage) the show, and I couldn't wait to learn who would take on which procedural stereotype. Thank you for not letting me down, show! Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is the quintessential crime drama demo, so to see her embrace that and take charge of the case as the "Chief" because she knows the genre so well was invigorating. Starting the episode off with a ridiculous death (meaning the real one was still to come!) and a Mama's Family reference was even better. Abed (Danny Pudi) should have been the obvious choice to be front and center here since he was raised on TV and all that, but it's been pretty clear that his TV tastes are a little higher brow than your usual procedural, so he fell nicely into the "simple" detective who's good for a one-liner with Troy (Donald Glover) as his even simpler "needs to be explained everything through exposition in case the audience is slow" partner. Did anyone else fear, though, that once again Troy was just the sidekick to Abed's cool, "I get the zingers" lead? Britta (Gillian Jacobs) as the stuffy lab tech, genius, because stuffy lab techs are the worst. Especially because she was playing an inept one and got "Chung chunged" out of it-- or "Chang changed." Utilizing so many beloved "extra" students as potential witnesses, persons of interest, and suspects in tiny bursts opened the world as wide as New York City, and keeping each scene super short kept up with the pacing and crazy twists of today's crime shows without throwing in the annoyances of actual insane red herrings or misdirects. Jeff (Joel McHale), the cynical, silver-tongued lawyer's heart actually grew a few sizes, and he found he cared more about someone else's well-being (it's not quite the truth, but it's a start!) than winning. But then he still managed to give an epic, classic Jeff Winger speech. And then the reveal of the actual death at the end, as an aside, was just so typical Law & Order, too (which we need to talk about-- from the way the episode was going, I was convinced it would be Neil who would bite it. Just when he had finally found some happiness. But Star Burns? Now I just feel bad for his douche bag kid! How will affect the-- well, he really didn't have any friends, did he? Still, I have so many questions!!) Everything about this homage was spot-on in execution. It made me so happy. And oh my God, the credits! How did I not mention the credits sooner!? The credits are my new favorite thing ever. I want them to be my screensaver. And my ringtone. Can you make a video clip your ringtone? You win, Megan Ganz. You win TV.

The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8pm) - S3, Ep20: "Do Not Go Gentle" - I'm only going to say this once: I don't really like Alaric (Matt Davis). Never have, probbbably never will. So I was more than okay assuming he was going to bite the bullet this season (I like Davis, and I think he is perfectly cast in Cult, which I'm really hoping gets picked up because the script was fascinatingly twisty), and quite frankly I thought the send-off they gave him tonight was beautiful. Sweet, poignant, exponentially emotional and memorable-- enough to make me miss him. But then he wasn't really dead or gone, and I felt like the big group good-bye and Alaric's brave decision, and even Damon (Ian Somerhalder) trying to do the right thing with him, was invalidated. Sure, having him around in this new super-strong form adds a remarkable amount of conflict going forward but... And I get it, if he had chosen to die and then actually did, it would be Bill Forbes all over again, so that should have been the first clue that it wasn't going to "stick." Davis did kill it in this episode, as he usually does, but still. Other than that, though, this episode was full of all kinds of thrills for me, like the nods and references to the actual '20s (another flashback to which I'd love to see!) during the '20s dance, Tyler's (Michael Trevino) silly little ways of getting jealous (it proves he's still just a boy!), Bonnie's (Kat Graham) general fierceness, and the set-up for so much to come, relationship(s) wise. Stefan (Paul Wesley) may have just been in a good mood because Elena (Nina Dobrev) was warming to him, but he was cheekier with Klaus (Joseph Morgan) than I would have expected. And as "on board" with Damon (Ian Somerhalder) as I may have gotten last week, I have to say, I totally get why Elena would lean on Stefan during this tough time: he has a proven track record of being there for her and being sensitive when Damon was just snarky. I don't want to believe she needs to lean on him all of the time, but it's nice to know she can. But can I just nitpick about one thing for a minute? The spell over the school was held in place with a salt line. Why couldn't one of the regular humans like Matt (Zach Roerig) or Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) just scratch a line down it to crack it open and let Stefan and Damon and even Klaus out? Would that have just been too easy? Or is salt stronger in Mystic Falls than in every other part of the country where Supernatural has showed us, occasionally, demons can break through?

30 Rock (NBC, 8:30pm) - S6, Ep18: "Live From Studio 6H" - In the second-ever live episode, I was just hoping for Julia Louis-Dreyfus to resume her alt-Liz, but Amy Poehler was an even more amazing, if less fitting surprise! But I have to admit, in the opening moments, I was convinced Jack (Alec Baldwin) and Liz (Tina Fey) were about to break into song...and I would have been more than okay with that. I was not okay with Kim Kardashian just wandering through. Especially since she appeared to try (and severely failed at) Sadie's "You're welcome." Ugh. Way to pander. I wonder if the east coast got someone better-- or less shaky camera work. But hey, there was Cheyenne Jackson, who I had assumed was no longer involved with the show, and then there was Kristen Schaal, who I wish was no longer involved with the show. Hazel is creepy. And not in the fun way. And there was far too much of her tonight! I don't know, maybe it was because this idea wasn't new anymore, but everything seemed off. For one thing, the basic theme of live TV changing everyone's life and therefore deserving to stay is not a given. Art evolves with the times, and if the times have evolved past live TV, we have to accept that, move over, and make room for the next wave. To stay stuck in any old medium or mentality never breeds anything good. And sometimes, a long-running show just needs something new to breathe new life into it. If TGS is as inconsistent as 30 Rock has felt this season, maybe that's what both shows need. Besides, Liz should have never fell for Kenneth's (Jack McBrayer) "Tracy found out about internet porn" because they've done story points with Tracy's internet porn habits before-- she knows he knows its there-- to get her into the episode long situation anyway. Everyone was shoved in Tracy's (Tracy Morgan) dressing room during the last live show, too, by the way. And of course, there was attention drawn to how Jane Krakowski punctuates her last line in every scene. You don't notice things like that when you have editors looking out for you. What did work for me was the simple sketch style, like a snappier SNL, namely the Leo Spacemen (Chris Parnell) commercials, rotating Fred Armisen, and Paul's (Will Forte) Zou Bizou Bizou moment (that's the right name, right?). A part of me did wish there were more special guest stars in the actual sketches to which Kenneth was calling back because for some reason it was a bit weird for me to see the usual behind-the-scenes players suddenly, well, playing on stage with Tracy. But for the record, I would watch an entire variety show from Young Tracy (Donald Glover). And I would definitely watch those sketches again with a rotating guest every week. Maybe SNL can license them from Fey; they're better than just about everything SNL has churned out recently.

Parks and Recreation (NBC, 9:30pm) - S4, Ep20: "The Debate" - I guess I had blocked out the fact that people other than Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) were running for this election because when there were three other people at the podiums-- even though one was Buddy Garrity-- all I wanted to do was fast-forward through the crazy quips and get to the real battle. Of course, the fact that it wasn't all about Leslie and Bobby perfectly set up the flaws in Leslie's debate plan when she opened with an attack that blind-sided him, and a number of people who know her to be as in love with candy as his family is, though for very different reasons. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop-- for Jennifer (Kathryn Hahn) to not be worried about his performance because she had someone in his ear, literally feeding him verbatim lines to say aloud. I figured it would be a Surrogate situation, where the guy on the other end coughed or said something to someone else that Bobby mistook for part of the script and repeated on stage, therefore revealing the scheme. But I'm kind of glad it wasn't so simplistic and "sitcom-y" as that. Her closing speech was perfect, and Bobby's relieved reaction at the debate just being over so he could party at his dad's house like a high school kid was perfect, as well. I was also a little taken aback by how just last week Ann (Rashida Jones) said she loved Tom (Aziz Ansari) (though she may have just loved his apartment) and this week they were broken up for good. Their relationship was always hot and cold like that but with so much of it taking place off-screen, it felt a little abrupt. I hope they don't throw Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ann back together just as quickly. He seems to have made his peace with potentially losing his job if it means he can date Ann, but first of all, Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie already did that, and second of all, that would imply Bobby is going to win. I would much prefer the complication to be Leslie wins the election, Chris keeps his job and realizes he wouldn't choose her over his job when their relationship was rocky in the past. You can't have that many "too good to be true" guys on one show! I mean, I know they're small town dudes, but come on! Andy (Chris Pratt) acting out his favorite movies was gold, and I would watch a whole web series about that. I hope there were many more-- maybe some unexpected ones, like rom-coms-- that will make the DVD extras.

1 comment:

elias26 said...

Just wanted to comment on your Community review: First, I hate Law & Order too, so don’t feel bad! This though, this was perfect, from the casting to the zingers. And remember, Troy wasn’t JUST the sidekick…they switched good cop/bad cop roles half way through, so they both got a chance, a small but important step in the evolution of their friendship. I’m really looking forward to lunch with my coworkers here at DISH, every Friday we get together and watch the latest episode of Community on my friend’s iPad at and talk about it, and I’m curious to see how they felt about the episode…the death of Star Burns, the Omar throw-back, Troy’s awesome Spider-Man tie, everything. Again, great review!