Sunday, September 25, 2011

TV Report: Thursday Night Sitcoms

I was so good writing down my thoughts on the TV shows I watched the past week and a half until Thursday hit and suddenly there was way too much stuff to watch and way too little time to write about them. In any case, onwards to the Thursday night sitcoms...

: "Biology 101"

They opened up the episode with a big song & dance number that proclaimed that they'll be less weird and more mainstream this season. Thankfully, by the end of the episode, neither would be true as they are just as weird and just as esoteric (relatively) as they have been. The show last night was full of pop culture callbacks that required just a little bit of knowledge from the viewer. There was Abed's continued obsession of little-seen Cougar Town as well as Britta's viewing suggestions of Cougarton Abbey and Inspector Spacetime to Abed until Cougar Town is back on air. While popular enough in their niche, how many Americans are down with both Downton Abbey and Doctor Who to get these references? There's also Jeff's visual journey ala 2001: A Space Odyssey and even new guest cast member Michael K. Williams as their Biology professor came from a critically-loved but audience-anemic The Wire. Would the episode have been enjoyable without knowing all of these? Probably, but I'm glad I knew about them! Also, MVP honors to Jim Rash. His Dean Pelton is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the show. B/B+

Parks and Recreation
: "I'm Leslie Knope"

I have so many feelings about the best comedy on TV right now. After a season where they didn't have a single weak episode and where they ended in a cliffhanger, there was a lot of expectations over this season opener and I think they did awesomely. It was great seeing all of the characters again after the summer hiatus, but for me it was all about Ron Swanson, Leslie Knope, and Ben Wyatt. Ron hermitted himself in the beginning of the episode to escape from his first ex-wife Tammy expertly played by Patricia Clarkson who we see in the end as working for the IRS. Leslie, in the meantime, struggled to tell Ben about their possible break-up due to running for public office. But of course, Ben already knew and she has his full support (which made me happy and so utterly sad at the same time). I'm so very glad that Leslie is following her dreams and Ben knows to support her even at the cost of their relationship, and I may have applauded at Leslie's first campaign speech, but as Ben/Leslie shipper I hope they find themselves together again sooner rather than later. A-

Big Bang Theory
: "The Skank Reflex Analysis" & "The Infestation Hypothesis"

Not much to say about the two episodes only to say that I quite enjoyed them and found them really funny at times. I was a bit down on last season especially when it came to the guys' (minus Sheldon), but I'm glad to see that the ensemble cast is feeling a bit more ensemble-y and that the guys are holding their own against the show's proven MVPs of Sheldon, Penny, and dare I say it Amy. In fact, Amy is just delightful and a fantastic addition to the power duo of Sheldon/Penny especially in the second episode where both Amy and Sheldon used their friendship with her to help them out. Someone I know brought up the fact that both episodes seemed more sexualized than others with the first focusing on Penny/Raj's supposed tryst while in the second we get Leonard trying to Skype cyber with Priya. I think it's just coincidental and if not, people sometimes forget that Big Bang's creator also created Two and a Half Men. 1st ep: B/ 2nd ep: B+

The Office
: "The List"

So here it is, the first season without Steve Carell. Fortunately for them, I think it worked. For now, at least. James Spader's role as CEO and not the branch manager is MUCH better in the long run especially as it creates an us vs. them between the branch and the higher-ups which is exactly the kind of thing that Andy would need to transition from salesman to new boss. I actually love the choice of Andy since he has shown to be quite competent with bouts of insanity, but the most important trait he has is he believes in the family that Michael Scott has cultivated all of these years. Hearing Andy stand up to Spader's Robert California was quite touching and very Michael Scott. I had every intention of not watching this season and I reserve the right to do that later on, but with the premiere, they bought themselves some time with me. B

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