SitCombat: 10/18/12

Boy, oh, boy, is MY face red!

It turns out that “special” episode of The Office I watched and reviewed last week was actually the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate. Embarrassing, to say the least. I’ll try to do better this week, as we get a couple of all-new episodes. Unless they’re clip shows, I guess. Then they’ll just be mostly-new.

Anyway, 30 Rock is still the defending champ, but maybe The Office will come back strong after last week’s bye. Both shows are in their final season, so they’re running out of at-bats. Let’s make with the homers, people.

This was SitCombat for October 18, 2012:

30 Rock (NBC) – “Stride of Pride”

Tonight’s Episode: Jack juggles a stalag-full of female companions, Tracy offends Liz with a tweet about women not being funny, and the gang tries to keep Jenna from finding out about an unflattering magazine story.

Good Stuff: Pizzarina Sbarro . . . “Just hearing that story tells me that Bradley was gay.” “Only sexually” . . . “I’ve seen your bathing suits. That could be anywhere” . . . The female writer sliding under the table and then running out of the building at Liz’s suggestion of a sex-talk brunch . . . “Honestly, I never thought she was TRYING to be funny” . . . Good to see Grizz and Dot Com back in the mix . . . Kenneth’s “seduction” of Jenna . . . Jack’s sex idiot, Mindy, not being able to pronounce “No” properly . . . “I’m Great-Escaping you, so you have every right to do the same.” “My generation calls it ‘Pokemon-ing.’ Gotta catch ‘em all!” . . . Jack jingling his keys at Mindy . . . I loved the twist that Jenna planted her own “Jenna is 56″ story . . . Frank’s idea to have the monkey play “a young Stephen Tyler” . . . Ryan Lochte misspelling his own name in his e-mail address . . . “Are we, though?” . . . “Are you thinking? Or doing Kegel exercises?” “Yes” . . . Lochte thinking he might be the “father figure” archetype . . . “You looked like a million years up there!” . . . “This is how people danced before Chubby Checker ruined everything” . . . I didn’t like the Sex and the City ending, until the reveal that Liz was writing all of that in a customer service e-mail.

Non-good Stuff: Pete is being underutilized . . . the Ken Tremendous stuff was a little too “inside baseball” for me (almost literally, I guess) . . . Jack wouldn’t be quite that technology-illiterate. He invented the trivection oven!!! . . . The song was a weird choice.”

Line of the Night: “Instead of losing a push-up contest to Julie Bowen to see who gets to play Kevin James’ mean wife who he’s sick of having sex with, I’m gonna skip ahead to being an amazing slut who wins Oscars!” – Jenna, explaining her new philosophy

Overall: Good show, with a couple of quibbles.  Pete has been reduced to a straight-man bit player.  I also didn’t like Jack looking weak.  The character works best as an alpha. Having said that, this show was very good. Jenna was the MVP this week.  All three plots worked well.  Not an all-time classic, but not many weaknesses to be found, either.  Even the “women are funny!” issue that’s so near and dear to Tina Fey’s heart was handled (mostly) without being heavy-handed.

GRADE: B-plus

The Office (NBC) – “Work Bus”

Tonight’s Episode: Jim tricks Dwight into thinking the office is dangerous, Jim and Pam continue to deal with the fall-out from his unilateral business decision.

Good Stuff: “A baby what? A human?” . . . Darryl convincing Clark that Creed is Jim’s step-dad . . . “LOSE WEIGHT!” “I’m trying” . . . “I don’t know what it was. Not lovable, maybe – HAHA…oh, well…” . . . I liked Dwight standing up to Jim, even if it was in vain . . . “THE FAT PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN” . . . Creed the hitch-hiker . . . Dwight subtly referring to doggy-style as “regular.”

Non-good Stuff: Suddenly having a post-season video from a heretofore-unmentioned company softball team is like something that would happen on a sitcom from 1981 (see also the “character who is suddenly a smoker so they can craft an episode about that character quitting smoking”) . . . Andy has just become a poor man’s Michael Scott now. He used to be a guy who lacked self-confidence and was kind of endearing and generally likable, but now he’s filled with “Season-Two Michael Scott”-style obnoxious, overcompensating bravado and hates Toby’s guts. Not to mention Nellie’s . . . The roll call was dumb . . . I don’t like Nellie, but they’re trying way too hard to make her “likable” by making Andy such a complete asshole.

Line of the Night: “Well, now I don’t even FEEL like pie . . . wait . . . no.  It’s back.” – Kevin (on pie)

Overall: This episode was pretty bad and was a step back after a good start to the year.  I didn’t buy into the contrived premise (although I could have if it had been better-executed), and I just don’t care about these characters on an emotional level.  I like it when they make me laugh, and I care about their actions to the extent that plots fit together well and make sense, or are clever, but do I care whether Nellie is able to adopt a kid?  No.  Do I care whether Jim and Dwight share a heartfelt moment?  Not really.  I laughed as much in the one minute overrun that included the beginning of Parks & Rec as I did during this episode of The Office.


Final Thoughts: It’s becoming clear that this contest isn’t really much of a contest.  I’m worried that things are going to get so lopsided with just the two shows that I need to take drastic measures.  So, with that in mind . . .

The League (FX) – “The Hoodie”

Tonight’s Episode: Kevin and Jenny argue about their son’s penis, Ruxin does some nefarious digging about Andre’s penis, and Taco and Pete try to use their own respective penises on a newly-single woman.

Good Stuff: Taco picking up a bike “off the waiver wire” . . . “I should have priority! I masturbated to her like six years ago!” . . . Andre looked like E.T. with that hoodie on . . . The Shiva is really hot. I never complain about her presence on the show . . . I like that Kevin drafted an affidavit for Shiva to sign . . . I did like that Kevin and Jenny settled their argument by betting on fantasy football . . . “He said he worked for the phone company, but it looked like he was just taking a nap” . . . “Girls are like kickers – you can never have enough!” . . . “What do you think about Golden Tate?” “That’s my favorite cereal!” . . . “WASHINGTON HEAD-SKINS!!!” “You’ll have to excuse Taco.  He’s on a five-second tape delay” . . . “Bragging about how much sleep you get? Minus one.”

Non-Good Stuff: This show is at its weakest when it has to go into “nuts and bolts” fantasy football stuff, like the opening scene with the very on-the-nose exposition, wherein Kevin says “Guys, football is back!  It’s the first game of the season! We are friends in a bar, where we enjoy beer, food, and fellowship while watching this incredible sport!” . . . Ok, I made the last part up, but you get the idea . . . I have to say, this show sometimes goes a little overboard in focusing on genitalia. I think the writers overestimate the inherent humor there.  It’s certainly not zero, but it’s not as much of an asset as they seem to think it is . . . A straight dude being that curious about what his friend’s penis looks like is too implausible (and just weird), not to mention the fact that the other friends are on-board with this.

Line of the Night: “I don’t blog about EVERYTHING!  I blog about magic . . . and . . . sometimes Don Henley.” – Andre, defending himself

Overall: This was a nice palate-cleanser after that episode of The Office.  What makes the League work so well is that it’s a very “finite” show that knows its strengths.  To use a football analogy, it’s like a team that is very successful running between the tackles and mixing in some play-action vertical passing down the field and sticks with those plays, rather than trying unsuccessfully to do something else.  The League sticks to a game plan that produces positive yardage.  It may not have the most diverse scheme in the game, but it moves the chains consistently, so who really cares?


Final Thoughts (redux): 30 Rock takes a narrow victory over The League this week, but it was a battle that could have gone either way.  The Office finishes in a distant third place.  If it weren’t for the fact that this is the final season of The Office, I may have already dropped it from the rotation in favor of a one-on-one battle between 30 Rock and The League. Adding The League freshens things up and adds a measure of unpredictability to the weekly contest. And, who knows, maybe The Office will step it up in the weeks to come.  For now, 30 Rock holds on to this prestigious honor.

WINNER: 30 Rock (retains title)

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