30 Rock won back its crown (with a wedding episode, no less!), turning back a decent effort from The Office and a mediocre League. I hate writing these intro parts, so let’s just dive right in, shall we?
We get a bonus episode of The League tonight, so I have four shows to review.
This was SitCombat for December 6, 2012:
30 Rock (NBC) – “My Whole Life is Thunder”
Tonight’s Episode: Jenna is none-too-pleased when she finds out that Liz got married so close to her own wedding, Jack deals with his ongoing mother-related issues, and Tracy tries to cheer Kenneth up after his break-up with Hazel.
Good Stuff: “You got married?!? To what?” . . . “Hathanobody” . . . “I’m 42, Cerie.” “I don’t know what that is” . . . 80 Under 80 . . . “Backslash ‘Garbage File?!?’” . . . “She insists on traveling on Pearl Harbor Day to, and I quote, ‘show the Emperor we’re not afraid’”. . . “Do you have any idea where she is, little boy?” . . . “I told the black guy – no Brady stuff!” . . . Liz’s picture in the program . . . Jack’s three appropriate subjects of paintings: (1) horses, (2) ships with sails, (3) men holding up swords while staring off into the distance . . . “Apex Technical School puts students first…(turns to camera) and the perfect time to enroll is NOW!” . . . I loved that all the women at the Women in Media banquet went to the bathroom together and can’t figure out A/V equipment . . . “It’s all right! The lack of oxygen is making me orgasm!” . . . I think killing off Jack’s mom was the right call. It gave the character closure, and I think it was the right time to wrap things up from Elaine Stritch’s perspective . . . “Jenna! I mean…Liz” . . . “Where else but real life would a millionaire movie star care so much about a Hillbilly janitor that he would spend two days trying to cheer him up?” . . . Frank’s “APPROPRIATE” hat . . . “The man who, in 1984, wore a tuxedo so well that he broke up the Go-Go’s” . . . Reverend Gimp was definitely voiced by Lorne Michaels.
Non-good Stuff: The Jenna “Abusive / crazy male from my past doing something outrageous to me” lines are getting a little “mad-libby” . . . The Oprah stuff doesn’t really resonate with me.
Line of the Night: “Someone’s looking lovely today! . . . What a burn. I could have meant someone else…although I didn’t. She’s radient!” – Kenneth, trying to be mean (and failing)
Overall: Good show. I loved a lot of the little things, like Dot Com’s line about Apex Technical. I think ending the Mrs. Donaghy storyline is appropriate at this point in Elaine Stritch’s life, not to mention the increasingly-limited life of the show itself. There weren’t as many huge laughs as last week, though. This was a good, solid, all-around episode with lots of fun cameos, but the highs weren’t as high as the best shows that the 30 Rock writers create, possibly because a character, you know, died on the show.
The Office (NBC) – “Dwight Christmas”
Tonight’s Episode: Dwight tries to get the office to celebrate a traditional German Christmas, Jim worries about his first day of work in Philadelphia, and Erin laments Andy’s distance.
Good Stuff: “Hmmm…funny how that works” . . . “Tapas Swiss Miss” . . . Jim backing out of the break room when Toby brings up the Scranton Strangler (and then everyone else leaving one by one) . . . “YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN COOLER” . . . “I have to run to my car…to take a dump” . . . “I probably have a copy or two in my car.” Or two? . . . “I am nigh!” . . . “Seriously, you guys? NOW you believe in Dwight’s traditions? When some Democrat looks it up on Wikipedia?” . . . Dwight hastily texting Zwarte Piet . . . “…it was about a fickle pickle salesman who would tickle you for a nickle” . . . “Meredith is a little cute. I’m just realizin’. She got, like, an Emma Stone thing” . . . “Guess how much I care on a scale from one to ten?” “Zero.” “DAMMIT!”
Non-good Stuff: Pete’s brother dared him to memorize the script to Die Hard? Implausible. If a hot girl dared you to do that when you were a kid (which would never happen, but bear with me), you might do it. But your brother? You would tell him to go F himself and never think about it again. If they needed to contrive a way for Pete and Erin to have to spend time together, this shouldn’t have been in the top 100 on that list . . . How did Dwight just whip up, e.g., a stuffed pig’s stomach, same-day? . . . This show needs more forced office romance. Maybe everyone on the show can marry one another on the series finale.
Line of the Night: “Belsnickel! I gotta run out early, too.” – Meredith, assuming the position
Overall: The Dwight Christmas stuff was very strong, but the Rube-Goldberg-esque lengths to which this show goes to set up office romances is frustrating to me, and, more importantly, not that funny. They spent two years building up Andy as a sympathetic love interest for Erin, and now, in the last season of the show, they want to make Andy unsympathetic (mission accomplished, by the way) and have her wind up with a new guy. More trouble than it’s worth and irritating to an audience that went along for that first ride. Anyway, the A-story was close to an “A” grade-wise as well, but the sub-plots dragged down the overall score.
The League (FX) – “The Anchor Baby” (first episode)
Tonight’s Episode: Ruxin worries about his wife souring on his marriage, Pete tries to get rid of an annoying acquaintance, and Taco improbably assumes the duties of a therapist.
Good Stuff: That shot of Sofia at the beginning gets a plus-one . . . “I look like the guy who makes you answer riddles before you cross a bridge” . . . “I don’t need wi-fi because my neighbors have sex all the time, and I can see them” . . . I didn’t think I’d like the “Taco as therapist” bit (too obvious), but I enjoyed it . . . “Turns out, he wasn’t just a fat kid. He was a hobbit. That’s why he was so good at football” . . . “I got all the gay stuff out of my system during my semester at sea” . . . “I attend Episcopalian services, but ironically” . . .
Non-Good Stuff: Awesome. Gabe (late of The Office) is here . . . Jenny is kind of unpleasant sometimes . . . The Andre stuff near the end was a little much.
Line of the Night: “Yoga is communist cardio, and pilates is free-market capitalism” – Ruxin, addressing his wife’s change in exercise habits. I dug this analogy.
Overall: Meh. The Taco stuff was funny until the end, but Andre works better when he’s semi-oblivious to his dorkiness, not a downtrodden butt-of-the-joke the entire time. Gabe wasn’t terrible. Ok episode.
The League (FX) – “Bro-lo El Cordero” (second episode)
Tonight’s Episode: Pete questions whether his grandfather actually has Alzheimer’s, Kevin gets a colonoscopy, and Andre takes advantage.
Good Stuff: “I’m not going to make fun of him getting a colonoscopy, especially since the amateur ones you’ve been giving him over the years have not been working” . . . Incorporating (possible murderer) Robert Conrad is a plus . . . “Old people sex is quite beautiful. They know what they like, and no awkward abortion conversation” . . . The doctor was named “Pete” and the nurse was “Jenny” . . . “It’s like Spring Break 1936 for him” . . . Andre’s recollection of the post-colonoscopy conversation with Kevin . . . “I didn’t come here to have my character assassinated—like Lincoln, at the end of the movie—spoiler alert” . . . “That’s not my car, and that’s not Andre” . . . “Oh, no, those are load-bearing chairs” . . . “You do know that a heroin addiction is NOT diabetes, right?” . . . An “A-Team-style” kidnaping . . . Settling a fantasy football trade dispute via lucha libre . . . “SHIT IN HIS MOUTH!” . . . Ruxin wearing his glasses outside his lucha mask . . . “I’ll eat it off of you. That’s the most efficient delivery system” . . . “Even through the high fructose corn syrup, I can still taste the Jenny.”
Non-Good Stuff: The patient isn’t awake during a colonoscopy, at least not to the point where he’s able to have a conversation with the doctor.
Line of the Night: “Spoiler alert: Guess who he’s going to find when he unclogs it? His f***ing cat. Heh, heh, heh.” – Rafi, setting the record straight
Overall: This was a good, focused episode that got stronger as it progressed toward the ending. I feel like sometimes this show tries to be Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it probably works best when it speaks with its own “voice.” This was one of those sorts of episodes.
Final Thoughts: The Office, 30 Rock, and the better of the two episodes of The League were all very watchable this week. I give the edge to The League. Some shows can pull off “silly and over-the-top” better than others, and The League is one of those when it hits its stride. Tonight was one of those episodes. A close battle, but The League takes the honors this time around.
WINNER: The League (new champion)