30 Rock eked out a narrow victory over newcomer The League last week. I introduced The League into the contest to shake things up a bit, and my hope is that the upstart from FX may prove to be a more challenging foe than The Office has been of late.
Of course, all is not lost for the “other” NBC show. The Office showed great promise early on in its final season, and the fact that this is the end may ultimately be as “freeing” as I had hoped several weeks back.
But all of that is speculation. Let’s see how the October 25, 2012 edition of SitCombat actually turned out:
30 Rock (NBC) – “Unwindalux”
Tonight’s Episode: One of Jenna’s songs becomes a cultural phenomenon, and Jack and Liz jostle to try to influence the 2012 election.
Good Stuff: “No sweat. My mom IS a prostitute” . . . “Why do you have a tattoo of a seatbelt?!?” “So I don’t get pulled over…when I’m driving shirtless!” . . . “Oh, good lord, Lemon, you just LOCKED your mouth and THEN swallowed the key! It makes no earthly sense!” . . . “Oh, [that dog] wasn’t rabid. I just said that so they’d have to put it down, and then I’D be the star of that dog food commercial!” . . . “And I’m mad at your success but pretending it’s something else!” . . . “You don’t have enough shrimp to buy my silence! Also, you’re out of shrimp” . . . “It’s an original Leonard N’moy!” . . . Jack’s brilliant plan to use Liz as chum . . . Americans for an American America . . . “Ed Begley, Jr. wasn’t available because the sail on his car broke” . . . “Sunday Night Feetball, which is the plural of ‘football’” . . . Pete getting stuck in his own window . . . Token Silent Lady . . . “I would slap you, if I didn’t know you were getting your own planet when you died” . . . “How dare you talk that way in front of the pile!” . . . “New York will go for Obama, even if I voted 100 times…instead of my usual five” . . . “Don’t give up! That is NOT the Lisa Loeb I know” . . . “Ever since Tracy set fire to Lambeau Field, Wisconsinites are coming around on the death penalty” . . . Pete becoming a Crab-Catcher makes complete sense . . . Northern Florida being largely populated by bus passengers who ran out of money . . . “To be continued…Mr. Spider!”
Non-good Stuff: The political stuff is just a little unwieldy, even for a writing staff this talented. It’s not that they can’t be funny and be this election-specific (they can), it’s just that it becomes an impediment at times.
Line of the Night: “You look like a condom that’s been dropped on the floor of a barber shop!” – Jenna, summing up Pete’s appearance
Overall: Lots of good bits to be found, and 30 Rock can handle politics and remain funny, but tying the presidential election into storylines this tightly is like a restrictor plate: The car still goes fast, but you get the feeling that there’s a cap on just how fast it can go. As usual, a few points get deducted for being part one of a two-parter. Still good, but not great.
The Office (NBC) – “Here Comes Treble”
Tonight’s Episode: Andy’s old a capella group pays the office a visit, Dwight discovers a mysterious pill, and Jim and Pam continue to spar over his investment opportunity.
Good Stuff: The cold open was really good this week, especially the portion toward the end when Dwight attempts to resume normal work duties with the pumpkin still on his head . . . Ok, Andy as circa-1987 George Michael was outstanding . . . “You were in an a capella group?” “You went to Cornell?!?” . . . “Hey, Jim! Look, I’m eating YOU!” . . . “I’ll get my apprehension kit” . . . “You got Qs! I got As!” “Did you say you have AIDS?” . . . “Broccoli Rob was Broccoli Rob…Andy Bernard is the Boner Champ!” . . . “Cold would’ve stopped most people, but I just stayed locked-in” . . . “You’re like eight rain men” . . . “‘Buts’…are for pooping” . . . I usually don’t like the Jim / Pam stuff, but I did like Jim trying to weasel his way through the investment discussion while Treble powered through its first song . . . “Wait, wait, hold on. Where’s the BAND? ‘Cuz there’s no way you guys are making this magic with just your mouths!” was very good, but Creed’s silent “That’s what SHE said” that followed it absolutely slayed me . . . Andy’s reaction when the Treble guy says, “I thought you were Adam Lambert” . . . “It’s not my fault I still live near campus” . . . “I decided Acapulco music is awesome” . . . “And his crazy cousin Mos…other cousin Mos…” . . . I guess Toby is attracted to…himself?
Non-good Stuff: I don’t care about Nellie’s anxiety issue . . . “Actually, I’m the Electoral College.” First off, Oscar has gone from being even-keeled voice of reason to a pretty annoying twit sometimes at this point in the series. Secondly, this joke would go over better if he could pronounce “electoral” correctly . . . Treble doesn’t know “Faith” (from 1987), but “Car Wash” (from 1976) is part of their normal repertoire? Uh, ok . . . Andy is really crossing some lines at this point. He’s clearly suffering from a full-blown social disorder.
Line of the Night: “It’s Halloween . . . that is really, REALLY good timing.” – An inexplicably-blood-splattered Creed.
Overall: They did well this week. I still don’t care for Nellie, but there were a lot of strong moments, including two big hits from Creed. As I always say, The Office always seems to work best when they keep the show in the office. That was the case this time around as well. Very good episode, and a nice rebound after last week’s poor showing.
The League (FX) – “The Freeze-Out”
Tonight’s Episode: Kevin, Jenny, and Ruxin must attend birthday parties for children, Andre shows up as well, and Pete and Taco go play paintball. Ruxin also feuds with a white sushi chef.
Good Stuff: “I took Cialis, I was supposed to meet a date, she never showed up, so, I just had to, you know, ride it out. It was the craziest brunch ever” . . . Ruxin quit the ALCU because of the “stinky Greek person” . . . “I’ll lick your cobs bone dry” . . . “You can REALLY taste the urchin” . . . “You don’t even feign preparation for this” . . . “I’m more of an ‘Army of one’ kinda guy” . . . “I’ve been living out here for three or four days, you know, getting the lay of the land” . . . “I think the third time, between us, nothing came out” . . . “The Magic Man is on the loose!!!” . . . “VIETNAM, MAN. VIETNAM!” . . . “It’s a war boner, man” . . . “Or what? You’re gonna whip out some Cornhusker kar-a-te?” . . . The side-by-side diaper-changing scene was funny in a silly way.
Non-Good Stuff: Pete making a phone call during heavy fire was poor form . . . A few too many episodes revolve around injuries to Kevin’s groin area. Like, a surprising number, actually.
Line of the Night: “I tell you about my sexual history!” “I don’t want to know!” “I have to tell you. Otherwise . . . I might forget!” – Kevin and Jenny, debating the merits of sharing.
Overall: A good, solid episode without too many huge laughs. Despite Rafi’s presence, the paintball stuff surprisingly didn’t work as well as the Kevin / Jenny / Ruxin plot. Taco was underutilized this week. He’s usually the guy who picks his spots but often hits big, but he was more of a middling presence tonight. Not bad by any means, just not his usual contribution. Another worthwhile episode, though.
Final Thoughts: Well, well, well. Look who’s back on top. Just a week removed from forcing me to bring in a new third show to provide some competition for 30 Rock, The Office heeds the wake-up call and wins the night. I still think The League remains a big threat in the immediate future, as 30 Rock may be tethered too closely to politics, and the burden of proof is still on The Office to show it can put together two consecutive good episodes. For now, Jim Halpert and company reign supreme.
WINNER: The Office (new champion)