The venerable NBC franchises which are the subject of the equally-venerable “SitCombat” conflict will both cease production at the end of this season. It seems incredibly likely that this (if not “tired,” at least a little “sleepy”) format will likewise no longer exist beyond 2013. For now, these grizzled veterans of network prime time (along with Archer later this year) will do battle one final time for the title of best Thursday-night sitcom.
With a tear in my eye, I reluctantly begin the last chapter in this storied rivalry.
This was SitCombat for October 4, 2012:
30 Rock (NBC) – “The Beginning of the End”
Tonight’s Episode: TGS is back from hiatus, and Jack reveals a questionable fall lineup for the network, prompting suspicions from Liz. Jenna begins preparing for her wedding, and tries to enlist Liz as her maid of honor.
Good Stuff: “The one, there’s only one. Talk about something else” . . . Hunchbacks, starring Jonathan Silverman as Dr. Fantastico . . . “You’re my oldest friend…and also, I’ve known you for a long time” . . . “Start looking for Indian now. It’s a tough booking” . . . Tracy thinking “second base” means a threesome with Robinson Cano . . . “Good peacock to you…I said ‘Good peacock!’” . . . “How nice to meet a woman who speaks the language of the Nazis’ most enthusiastic collaborators!” . . . “Joe Rogan IS…Mandela!” . . . Cricket Night in America . . . Jack casting himself as God . . . “How long has this been going on?!? Seven years? Eight?” “Six weeks” . . . “Shall we conversation?” “Yes! We’re having weather.” “Much weather!” . . . Liz holding the green dress up to her face . . . “And there’s nothing worse than a surprise Lemon party” (do not google this) . . . Kenneth’s “government ice cream” had a Dharma Initiative logo . . . “I don’t understand the rules of this!” . . . “WHY ARE THEY BLUE?!?” . . . The non-editing on God Cop . . . “It’s a blessing AND a purse” . . .
Non-good Stuff: I forgot Kenneth is a maintenance man. I should have watched the end of last season to refresh my memory . . . The “Arli$$” joke was weird and untimely . . . There was a lot of “Paas” talk . . . The dinner scene (and Hazel generally) skewed a little too “weird-weird” instead of “weird-funny” . . . No Dot Com or Grizz this week, and I get the feeling that Cerie is a distant, lovely memory.
Line of the Night: “I can’t go to another business school reunion and sit at the non-CEO table with the…women and nice men!” – Jack, lamenting his career stagnation.
Overall: There were a few good moments, but this was mostly an expository episode designed to set up the conceit of the final season. The bad news is that didn’t make for a particularly good 22 minutes by 30 Rock standards. The good news is that the central premise of the final season is one I really like. Not only does it give them a chance to go “meta,” but it also provides a previously untapped vein for comedy gold for a show that might have otherwise had a chance to seem stale. For this week, not a great show, but the future looks bright.
The Office (NBC) – “Andy’s Ancestry”
Tonight’s Episode: Andy touts his heritage, Nellie worries about her driving test, Jim stresses over telling Pam about the sports memorabilia business, and Darryl struggles to be heard in his role as assistant regional manager.
Good Stuff: I didn’t like the cold open…until Dwight saw the fake family photo . . . Darryl’s generic soundbyte . . . “Win over any man in my guild” . . . Dwight fast-forwards through the nudity on Game of Thrones to get to the “chopped-off heads” . . . “What is the best war to do?” . . . “Just clap through it, man” . . . “Right now I need CANNED Tuna, ok?” . . . “Ladysmith African-American Mambazo” . . . “Wayne Johnson? The Rock?” “You mean Dwayne? And no” . . . “I was joking about that whole ‘Bund’ thing” . . . “Do NOT care.”
Non-good Stuff: Who cares if Andy’s ancestors had owed slaves? Darryl was right. Oscar is kind of a dick . . . Nellie continues to be terrible . . . I miss Ryan . . . Kevin being able to change Andy’s ringtone without him knowing about it seems impossible . . . Ok, I’m now openly rooting for Jim and Pam to break up. Well, break up or shut up . . . The (taller) new guy is going to get Erin out from under Andy. We get it. And Andy seems to be slipping into early-seasons Michael Scott territory at this point, meaning that he’s such a loser and so oblivious that he’s crossed the line into being unsympathetic.
Line of the Night: “Whoah. That person has really gotten him- or herself into quite a predicament.” – Darryl’s canned soundbite
Overall: Not enough Dwight, no Creed, a little too heavy with a white-guilt-centric storyline, and I just don’t care about Nellie as a driving force on this show. Not my cup of tea, although I do have a soft spot for the “gratuitous clapping for the boss,” because I may or may not have done that very thing at my previous place of employment. Let’s move on . . . Last week’s episode was very strong, and this one was a letdown after that. I still think the Office will bounce back, however. This season has a lot of potential, and I’m glad they’re addressing just how stagnant some of these characters are.
Final Thoughts: I was absolutely convinced after watching 30 Rock that the Office would take the title this week. That turned out not to be the case. 30 Rock wasn’t at its best in terms of pure comedy, but it laid the groundwork for what could be a stellar year. Likewise, the Office wasn’t in top form, but it has a better “direction” than it’s had in a couple of seasons. Stay tuned, because I think things will pick up for both shows in the weeks to come.
WINNER: 30 Rock
Correction: One solid Creed moment
When Dwight asked if anyone had “fermented mare’s milk”, they did cut briefly to Creed who searched his desk area before shaking his head “no”.