SitCombat: 3/29/12

30 Rock has won an unprecedented four consecutive weeks of SitCombat. The Office had been red-hot for the middle part of the season, but a recent swoon has seen 30 Rock and Archer benefit from the Office’s decent but unspectacular run of late.

Archer also wrapped up last week. That leaves only one opponent standing between the Office and a resurgence to the top. Unfortunately, it’s the same opponent that’s won those four straight battles.  Even more unfortunate for the Office is the fact that the episode is a rerun for the second consecutive week, possibly costing the show a golden opportunity to return to glory.

Can the Office use a repeat to take back the throne it held for much of the winter?  Will 30 Rock triumph a fifth straight week?

This was SitCombat for March 29, 2012:

30 Rock (NBC) – “The Shower Principle”

Tonight’s Episode: Liz realizes she may be stuck in a rut, Jack tries to come up with a way to shake things up at Kabletown, Tracy fights his way through tax woes, and Jenna deals with some apparent bad luck.

Good Stuff: The montage of Liz’s “year of change” speeches to her accountant . . . Liz keeping her tax documents in a box for “Medicated Hospice Shoes” . . . “Shareholder Meeting and Dog Fashion Show” . . . Corporate Blimps Weekly . . . “Eyes down here, boys. I have breasts, you know” . . . Cerie’s band (I feel like that was a gentle shot at some of the musical acts SNL has been trotting out lately) . . . The only way Grizz and Dot Com can watch the news is to convince Tracy that MSNBC is a video game . . . “Summer Horse Grave” . . . “5nowdog5″ . . . The crew and writers laughing at everything Cerie does . . . Liz’s meditation session . . . Mayor McCheese menacingly pointing at Jenna . . . Jack’s meditation session . . . “Someone won the crotch jackpot!” . . . “Of course not, silly. I can’t afford a third strike!” . . . I loved the meta-jokes about the fact that they’ve “already done all of this” and that even Hazel isn’t really “new.”

Non-good Stuff: It was good to see Cerie back in the mix (as well as Dot Com and Grizz), but it was a little jarring to see her used so prominently after not appearing at all for weeks, if not months . . . I’m still not sold on the level of crazy that Hazel brings to the table.  There are already two “nutty” characters, and I’m just not sure if there’s enough room for an even crazier character . . . I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but it seems like a disproportionate number of episodes this year have revolved around specific “days.” This week, we got tax day.

Line of the Night: “Take a picture!  It’ll last longer!” – Hazel, immediately prior to handing out pictures of herself.

Overall: As I say above, I’m still not entirely convinced we need another crazy character in the mix, especially since Hazel’s quantity of crazy reaches criminal levels.  On the other hand, a lot of the best moments and lines this week were hers.  This was another winning episode in a long string of them.  It’s good to see Dot Com, Grizz, and Cerie all back after intermittent absences this year.  I hope their involvement continues for the rest of the season.  I thought the over-arching theme of the episode was a good one, speaking both to the repetitive nature of Liz’s life, and the inevitable repetition of a sitcom that airs for as long as 30 Rock has.  I don’t have any real complaints.  There have been episodes this year at which I laughed harder or more often, but there was little I found objectionable here.  Very solid.

GRADE: A-minus

The Office (NBC) – “Mrs. California” (repeat)

Tonight’s Episode: Robert’s wife tries to get a job at the Scranton branch, much to his chagrin.  Dwight opens a gym in the building.

Good Stuff: “…not counting FDR” . . . Creed’s vehement denial about being in a suicide cult . . . “You know I have to do this.” “I know” . . . I liked Robert’s frantic through-the-window plea that “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES” could his wife be hired . . . Ryan’s speech about his new foundation that will put the Make-a-Wish Foundation out of business . . . “You don’t have to say it, if you’re doing it” . . . Daryl assuming that living to see a black president would have been a lot harder . . . “Plus, their massive B.M.s bust the rivets on my pipes” . . . “I was watching a movie, and a bunch of apes took over San Francisco” . . . “It’s the second-easiest job in the world. Being a mom” . . . Andy trying to follow Robert’s instructions on the phone . . . “All I need is another gym.  As if I don’t have enough drama” . . . Andy randomly doing the robot as he walked into the conference room . . . “It’s LeJon Brames.” “I know” . . . The look on Andy’s face when Robert accuses him of lying . . . Jim wheeling out of the room as quickly as possible . . . Jim climbing to the roof and finding Creed there . . . “VAL KILMER?!?”

Non-good Stuff: Watching Andy squirm was a fun part of the episode, but Robert was really the one who totally screwed up.  Andy actually played it perfectly, but California’s weirdness undid his own master plan . . . Jim is kind of a coward, and this episode reminded me of that.

Line of the Night: “I know how to build a business.  You gotta get the black people to do it to get the white people to do it.  Then you gotta get the black people tostop doing it.  One step at a time.”

Overall: Good episode.  Things weren’t quite as strong in the second half of the final act, but there were a lot of good moments leading up to that point.  It suddenly dawned on me why they chose to rerun this episode prior to the home stretch of the eighth season: That moment near the very end when Mrs. California implies she’s interested in Andy.  I recalled that event prior to seeing it again, but only a second viewing made me think that perhaps the writers were refreshing our collective memory to use this as a callback over the next few weeks.  Anyway, this may have won the night had it been a first-run episode.  However, watching it now (but reviewing it for the first time), I think 30 Rock was slightly stronger.

GRADE: A-minus

Final Thoughts: With that, 30 Rock wins for a fifth consecutive week.  This one comes with an asterisk, however, as Archer is done for the year, and the Office didn’t give us a new episode.  Although it almost won by default, I feel a lot better about the win knowing that 30 Rock crafted a high-quality episode in its own right.  To use one of my clumsy sports analogies, there may not have been any other golfers on the course, but 30 Rock still shot a 67.  A 67 is a 67.  This round of SitCombat goes to Tina Fey and company.

WINNER: 30 Rock (retains title)

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2 Responses to SitCombat: 3/29/12

  1. Rod Johnson says:

    One of the biggest laughs of the night for me was watching Liz trying to escape the hug / choke from Hazel. Like you, I’m not exactly sure how much I enjoy the crazy stalker thing but that moment delivered for me.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      I really have mixed feelings about it. On paper, it doesn’t make sense, given the characters that are already in play. Yet, I find myself laughing at the character more often than not, so I guess it’s a net positive.

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