I only watch about eight television shows on anything resembling a regular basis. I realized recently that three of those shows are sitcoms airing on Thursday nights.
I usually watch all three and informally think to myself, “Show X won the night.” Because I’m always looking for new content ideas, I figured there was no good reason not to make this a regular feature on The Axis of Ego. On the other hand, there are several reasons to make this a regular feature. Among them, (1) I’m going to be watching all three shows anyway, (2) formulaic pieces are easier to write (see, e.g., my entire sportswriting career), and (3) it gives me guaranteed content for the late-week spot, taking pressure off for Saturdays.
Put simply: I’m lazy, and this is easy and fun to do.
Let’s see how the three shows in question stacked up last night:
The Office (NBC)
Tonight’s Episode: Michael and Holly make the rest of the office uncomfortable with public displays of affection on Valentine’s Day as hilarity ensues.
Good Stuff: Holly playing Michael’s arms at the meeting, a la Who’s Line is it, Anyway? . . . Drunk Jim and Pam . . . Michael’s Boner Bomb movie idea.
Non-good Stuff: Why did Darryl shave? Not an improvement . . . “Do you love me love me?” . . . The “simulate an interview by repeating a nonexistent question to the camera before answering it” gimmick was annoying five years ago. It’s only gotten worse.
Line of the Night: “I don’t know, guys, I, for one, enjoy watching them. [coworkers mutter loudly in disgust] Can I finish? Can I finish?!? As I was saying, I enjoy watching them, because it makes me horny.” – Kevin, going against the grain.
Overall: Decent enough episode. Erin will obviously wind up with Andy down the road, and there’s no reason for the writers to rush that. Michael will leave the company for Holly’s sake one way or the other. I mention those items because this episode (and, I suspect, the next few until Carrell’s departure) will be heavy on plot development. That’s not a bad thing for people who watch the Office because they’re emotionally invested in these characters. However, I am not one such viewer.
30 Rock (NBC)
Tonight’s Episode: Jack and Avery are in Canada, Liz and Carol are on a plane, and both couples have some issues as hilarity ensues.
Good Stuff: Jack handing Liz an envelope predicting that she would hand him an envelope predicting his joke about Nags Head . . . Tracy onstage at the Oscars with a mouthful of Pop-tart . . . Damon lip-syncing along with that Guardian owl movie . . . For those keeping track, Liz has dated both “Floyd DeBarber” and “Carol Burnett” . . . Pete’s grandfather wearing a German uniform underneath his American uniform on D-Day “just in case” . . . “Austin Powers on Crossfire – timely stuff!”
Non-good Stuff: Too many uses of the phrase “double-edged sword” . . . It’s getting harder to work around Jane Krakowski’s pregnancy. It is what it is, but, unfortunately, her only being in a couple of short scenes per show isn’t a plus.
Line of the Night: “We’re having an American, and she will be President . . . no matter how ridiculous that sentence sounds.” – Jack Donaghy
Overall: It’s a crying shame that 30 Rock hasn’t attracted the kind of viewership that The Office has. Anyway, great episode. The only negative (and I’m nit-picking) is that the real-life cast issues (Krakowski’s pregnancy, Morgan’s health issues, Banks’ and Damon’s limited schedules) mean that we get a plot where the characters are separated into “pods” for most of the episode, rather than interacting with one another. Other than that, I don’t have anything negative to say.
Tonight’s Episode: In a callback to a Season One episode, Archer’s favorite prostitute shows up with a baby she claims is his as hilarity . . . well, you know.
Good Stuff: The conversation about the parking space . . . “He is not ‘sold separately’” . . . “I think I just did” . . . Cheryl’s baby shower gift of plastic bags and a book about SIDS . . . Archer getting a phone call from Lana right after crashing through and getting stuck in the air duct.
Non-good Stuff: Does every episode have to involve ODIN now? It’s fine that there’s a rival agency, but that’s two in a row . . . Woodhouse is a closet heroin addict? Sometimes going against type is funny, but this felt like doing so for its own sake and just didn’t work for me.
Line of the Night: “And cue the collective side of relief!” – Archer, after his mother’s exclamation that at least she’s not a sex addict.
Overall: It goes without saying that Archer is a much different show than The Office or 30 Rock. Yes, it’s animated, but the biggest difference might be that it’s on FX instead of a network. The writers seem to feel obligated to use the extra leeway they’re given by being on cable. Sometimes, that makes for very funny results. Other times, the adult subject matter feels a bit forced. That was the case this week. There were some great lines as usual, but, in general, the episode fell a little flat.
Final Thoughts: The fantastic 30 Rock wins the night with a superb effort. The Office had been on fire up until a couple of weeks ago, but 30 Rock has rebounded nicely to take back the crown. Archer has been fine so far this year, but this week was probably the weakest episode of the new season. On an unrelated note, I set a personal record for “most ellipses used in one commentary.” I’m looking forward to seeing if I can break it during next week’s edition of SitCombat!
WINNER: 30 Rock