30 Rock has forged a SitCombat dynasty in recent weeks. Tina Fey and company have racked up a half-dozen consecutive victories with no end in sight. The wrap of Archer and the repeated re-runs (is the redundant?) by the Office have left 30 Rock with even less chance of losing.
All that may change this week, however. The Office returns for its eighth-season home stretch. There’s a lot riding on this run. Looming sweeps aside, ending the first Carrel-free season on a high note is pretty important. This is especially true in light of the fact that a (still unconfirmed) ninth season would see Dwight leave for a spin-off show. Plus, Spader is already gone.
Meanwhile, 30 Rock hasn’t been renewed yet, either. So, now’s thetime to fight for your lives, SitCombatants!
This was SitCombat for April 12, 2012:
30 Rock (NBC) – “Meet the Woggels”
Tonight’s Episode: Colleen winds up in the hospital unexpectedly and has some things to work out with Jack, Jenna seeks to break up an Australian children’s musical act, and Tracy deals with the difficult reality that his son is going to college.
Good Stuff: “Duck” is a Season Five catchphrase . . . “I know the Woggels! My eight-year-old niece walked down the aisle to that song at her wedding!” . . . Dot Com deeming his city council campaign a great success on the grounds that it raised the level of discourse in the city . . . “We found your name on a list of disappointments she keeps folded up in her shoe” . . . Jack mocking Couchy’s lack of eyes . . . “Like the flashlight in my race-war-preparedness bag” . . . “Because, at Ellis Island, your mother’s name was recorded as ‘Unclaimed Irish Stowaway’” . . . “It’s Montage time!” “Tray, Montage got married and quit stripping” “Fine. We’ll just do a series of activities” . . . Dean Cain hanging out at the Princeton Club in an attempt to get recognized . . . The Grammys for toddlers is the Gwammys . . . “Like teaching him how to ride a bike…down a Luxor pyramid. Or driving a Car…vel franchise into the ground. I never even taught him how to shave…an orangutan” . . . Tracy missing George Foreman’s birth to deliver a baby while impersonating a doctor with another guy . . . “Son, this isn’t easy for me to say, because my tongue caught what my foot has”
Non-good Stuff: Seems like George Foreman got the old “accelerated age” treatment. Or, maybe not. I’m not great with ages anymore . . . The Jack / Colleen storyline was ok, but the Jenna / Woggels plot didn’t do much for me. I think it might have resonated a little more if I had known a little more about the Wiggles (I basically just know what they are in the broadest terms possible) . . . It was great to see Dot Com and Grizz, but I missed the writer characters. I know it’s difficult to work everyone into each episode, however.
Line of the Night: “Jordan men don’t go to college! We go to the school of hard knocks! A one-year vocational program where you learn to bang on doors and scare people into subscribing to magazines that they’ll never get.” – Tracy, explaining his family’s educational philosophy
Overall: The Tracy plot was outstanding. The other two didn’t generate the same level of comedy as that one. Normally, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but 30 Rock has had some episodes this year that had three storylines with that caliber of writing and execution. I should point out that this is all relative, of course. I still laughed more at the Jack / Colleen story than I would 90% of what’s on television. Still, by the very lofty standards that this show has established as the best comedy on TV, this was just a “good” episode, not a “great” one.
The Office (NBC) – “Welcome Party”
Tonight’s Episode: Robert orders the office to prepare a welcome party for Nellie, Andy attempts to break up with his fiancee with Erin in tow.
Good Stuff: “Neither of those looks like any person that has ever existed or been dreamt of in the history of human insanity” . . . Andy making a pit stop from his road trip with his new girlfriend to break up with his old girlfriend . . . “I wonder if king-sized sheets are called ‘presidential-sized’ in England. I really should have a Tweeter account” . . . “I see you’ve discovered Benjamin…that’s what I call my box for the photos of Henry” . . . “That’s not a code name. That’s just an insult!” “Plus, everybody would know who you meant” “Yeah!” . . . “You want honesty? Super honesty time…I’m gay. I am gay, and I prefer men.” . . . Brett Gelman always makes me laugh . . . Kevin being outraged by the cake having vegetables in it.
Non-good Stuff: First of all, why can’t Nellie just be an unlikable character? Why does she have to be sympathetic now? That does nothing to enhance the comedy at this particular juncture. Secondly, notice that there’s very little above related to the Andy plot. That’s not a good thing.
Line of the Night: “Is this a video conference you’re having with…Drake featuring Swizz Beatz?!?” – A frustrated Robert, to Pam, upon seeing her being less-than-productive at her desk.
Overall: I’ve been hesitant to join the chorus of naysayers hammering this show. I think that some people were never going to be satisfied in a post-Carell world, no matter how good the show was. The fact of the matter is that the Office created some very strong episodes earlier this season, as I’ve discussed. The show seems to be treading water now. There were some laughs this episode, but normally-reliable characters Erin and Andy provided only few. Passable, but not great.
Final Thoughts: Continuing the train of thought from above, I’m worried about the Office. As I said, even if they come back for a ninth season, Spader and Wilson are likely both out. So is Mindy Kaling if her Fox pilot gets picked up. The fact that so many people seem to have made backup plans doesn’t bode well for the future health of this show. I think I predicted a year ago that the Office would have a full season this year and a partial season in 2012-13, with Steve Carell coming back for some closure in the finale. It seems like that might be how this series ends. Or, it may simply have the plug pulled at the conclusion of year eight. Either way, I don’t see much of a future for the show at this point. In hindsight, maybe just focusing on four or five core characters and paring down the cast a bit might have been a way to go. But who knows? Many will probably say that the show should have just gone out on a high note by ending last year. Anyway, as for tonight, 30 Rock didn’t have its best show, but it was certainly solid, and a notch above the Office. Seven straight.
WINNER: 30 Rock (retains title (x7))