Seems like just yesterday I was writing SitCombat. It was actually the day before yesterday, thanks to the previously explained hiatus. 30 Rock took an easy win over The Office, but there’s some added competition tonight, courtesy of FX and the season premiere of Archer. Archer had a strong year last season, so a similar effort could present problems for the two NBC shows as we wind down the final few weeks of SitCombat.
Speaking of that, I think it probably makes sense to retire this column once 30 Rock wraps at the end of January. One, I’m sort of tired of writing it after two-plus years. Secondly, it’s not like the internet suffers from a lack of television review blogs.
For now, I’ll keep the SitCombat tradition going.
This was SitCombat for January 17, 2013:
30 Rock (NBC) – “Florida”
Tonight’s Episode: Jack and Liz head to Florida so that Jack can collect his mother’s things, leaving Tracy and Jenna “in charge” back in New York.
Good Stuff: Tracy telling a dial-tone to hold his calls . . . “I saw this on Dateline! Next, we’ll be holding hands in adjacent bathtubs!” . . . The choices on the automated Florida Emergency Services hotline including “anaconda in a crawlspace” . . . “Yes, movies are terrible” . . . “I didn’t super-duper finish law school. So…” . . . “I may be in there a while, because I have a gluten thing that turns my business white!” . . . “Where are my manners? This is Florida! Let me boil up a pot of hot Gatorade. Is blue ok?” . . . The sculpture of “lumpy flowers” . . . “I’d laugh, but I’m trying not to do the thing you just referred to” . . . “If you’re trying to conjure my mother’s ghost, you can just shake a jar of coins while praising Jimmy Carter” . . . “First of all…it’s champing at the bit. Horses champ.” I love this. People make this error all the time, and I am a hopeless nerd . . . “I forgot to make an opening at the end of the slide” . . . “That is a Christmas card from my estranged daughter!” . . . “The goal has always been money, or prestige, or, when playing hockey…the goal.”
Non-good Stuff: The first three minutes of the episode (often the best part of the show) were preempted by a local weather report. Brutal . . . The Colleen thing was a bit of a stretch. I understand that the vast change in character was done for comedic effect, but it’s still not clear to me that the breakdown in logic was really worth it. Not that big of a deal, but still an odd choice . . . Is Scott Adsit (Pete) even still on the show? Unless he was in the portion of the show I missed thanks to the weather nonsense, I think that’s two weeks in a row that he hasn’t even appeared, despite technically having a co-starring role.
Lines of the Night:
JENNA – “Ok, start from the beginning.”
MARTIN LUTHERKING, ESQ. – “Well, the plaintiff’s deposition alleges that…”
TRACY – “No! Further back! What kind of dinosaur was your grandfather?”
MARTIN LUTHERKING, ESQ. – “Um…the plaintiff alleges that…”
Overall: This was a “set-up” episode that will take us to the conclusion of the series. It seems somewhat appropriate that the despicable Hazel will ultimately lead to the cancellation of TGS. Seeing what happens as the series concludes will be fun, because I’m certain many stops have yet to be pulled out. This was a solid show. I’m sure I missed some of the best lines, but I have to grade it based on what I saw. I thought Tim Meadows’ turn as Martin Lutherking was very good, and the Jack / Liz dynamic was as high-quality as ever (although the “why didn’t we ever hook up” conversation was a little odd). Like the previous episode, this one deviated from the series’ typical three-storyline model. I think they’re trying to become more focused as they play out the last few chapters of this story.
The Office (NBC) – “Suit Warehouse”
Tonight’s Episode: Clark returns from his tryst with Jan, Darryl interviews at Jim’s new company, Dwight takes Clark to a father/son-run suit warehouse to try to make a sale.
Good Stuff: “Actually, it’s pronounced ‘espresso.’ Wait…that’s what you said. I apologize. I just assumed you would mispronounce it” . . . “One time, he snuck up behind a sleeping deer, and just sawed its head right off! It was sick!” . . . “I’m sure it’ll turn up” . . . “I have…gay friends…one gay friend…Oscar” . . . “Cartograph much?!?” . . . I actually liked the Clark / Dwight dynamic tonight.
Non-good Stuff: Missed the cold open, again because the local news dummies had to tell us it was snowing. No shit. Keep in mind that there was a crawl across the bottom of the screen ALL NIGHT for weather info. So, it’s not like this was a necessary break-in. Ugh. Terrible . . . WOW, this is MUCH longer than the disruption before 30 Rock. I’m missing a solid five minutes of the show . . . Was it espresso or cocaine?
Line of the Night: “He’s always been a liar. Ever since he was a little kid and he got caught ‘saving treats’ from the kitty litter box. Glistening brown morsels tumbling from every pouch in his trousers. Following the cat around on his knees, with his hands cupped beneath its tail, going ‘Please, kitty, may I have some more?!?’” – Dwight, dishing on his “son.”
Overall: Decent enough episode. I don’t have a problem with the overall direction of the show, as the office literally begins to fall apart. My biggest issue with what’s happening is Pam’s attitude. Why would she NOT want to leave Scranton? Her career is going nowhere. She works in an office full of very strange people. Her children haven’t started real school yet. Her husband, the love of her life, has a great job opportunity in Philadelphia. On what basis is Pam digging in her heels on remaining at Dunder Mifflin? It really doesn’t make sense. Anyway, this was a pretty good one. Again, I’m grading at a disadvantage thanks to the weather interruption, but, based on what I saw, this show delivered more often than not.
Archer (FX) – “Fugue and Riffs”
Tonight’s Episode: Archer loses his memory and attempts to regain it by taking a spa weekend.
Good Stuff: Loved the “Bob’s Burgers” (with a dash of “A History of Violence”) open. Just a great meta joke . . . “I’ll call after I solve this mystery or…whatever” . . . “You better break out the purple stuff” . . . “Sour mix? In a MARGARITA?!? What is this? Auschwitz?!?” . . . “For who? Crippled, gay, hillbilly spies?” . . . Archer using his lacrosse skills to win the firefight against the KGB . . . The shot of the KGB guy’s burning arm . . . Ron Cadillac: The biggest Cadillac dealer in the tri-state area.
Non-good Stuff: The Pam / Carol elements seemed tacked-on this week. I understand that they need to be on every episode, but sometimes the devices necessary to get them in the mix get a little too contrived.
Lines of the Night:
MALLORY – “I’m off to get a seaweed wrap.”
RAY – “Didn’t know they made sushi with dried clams…”
Overall: A very good opener. Things slipped a bit in the third act, and, I have to admit, I’m having a bit of difficulty remembering how last season left off. I know the space station was involved. You know what? I can probably guess. Anyway, the Bob’s Burgers open was the best thing I saw all night. The rest of the episode was pretty good, not great, but that pre-credits portion was the kind of meta humor that’s right up my alley.
Final Thoughts: All three shows were up to snuff tonight. It’s a very close call. I think if I had seen the 30 Rock open (which, again, is usually one of the strongest parts of the show), I probably would be giving Tina Fey and company the nod. As it is, weather intervened, and Archer’s hilarious Bob’s Burgers segment gives the FX comedy a very slight edge over its competition this week. 30 Rock is probably the show I go back and re-watch first, but, as they happened, I think Archer came out on top by a thin margin. It seems unlikely that anything will beat the 30 Rock finale, but, for now, Archer gets its first win of the year in its debut. Possibly with a small asterisk.
WINNER: Archer (new champion)