Comedy Night Done Right Episode Reviews: Weeks 1 and 2

Well, it’s been two weeks since NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup has been back on the air, and so far it’s been far from disappointing. After a summer of a strict True-Blood-and-Futurama diet, I’m ready to finally get back to the timeless 23 minute live-action sitcom format. So let’s get to it, shall we? Onto the reviews!


2.01 – “Anthropology 101”

Community hops on the Betty White bandwagon as the study group enrolls in a new class, Anthropology, taught by the feisty June Bauer. Meanwhile, the Jeff-Britta-Annie love triangle reaches a climax before quickly coming to a screeching halt and almost dissolving completely. Also, apparently Senor Chang is a student now? How did I miss that plot point?

I’m so so so so SO happy to finally see Betty White treated as an actress rather than the punch line of a cheap sex joke. The writers gave Betty a fun, likeably psychotic character to inhabit and she did so with all of her signature charm and watchability. Yes, the old-yet-still-sexually-active-elderly-woman jokes can be a fun way to add “edge” to a program, but it feels like as of late the whole industry has been force-feeding us the gag. Betty’s a talented lady and actress, but Community seems to be the only show as of late that hasn’t pigeonholed her completely. Kudos to that. On the downside, it was tragic to see the Jeff-Britta-Annie storyline end so abruptly. As the classic desperate post-breakup line goes, “I feel like I need some closure, you know?”  Character relationships changed so fast and without warning that it felt like I was watching a mid-season episode of Glee. (Yeah, I don’t really like Glee, wanna fight about it? …Please don’t make me fight about it. I love you. Let’s reconcile.)  I think we all know deep down that Jeff is a pretty horrible match for both characters, but a gradual weaning-off process would have been a far better way to ease the pain.

2.02 – “Accounting for Lawyers”

Jeff , in an attempt to reconnect with some evil lawyer friends, decides to attend his old firm’s company party, much to the group’s dismay. Determined to prove the lawyer’s evilness to Jeff, they sneak into the soiree to do some recon.

I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t seen the episode yet, but watch out for the chloroform incident – it’s a really fresh take on a traditional comedic gag.  This episode also has an eentsytinysmidgen more of Abed and Troy, two of the funniest characters on the show that have thus far been pretty underused. Granted, it’s only the second episode of the second season, and there were some extensive Troy/Abed plot arcs last year, so hopefully a new subplot is in their future. Also, see if you can spot Drew Carey in this episode – he plays Jeff’s old boss, but he seems to have morphed into an entirely different person after losing quite a bit of weight and hitting the local tanning salon. I did a quadruple take the first time he walked on camera. So weird!


5.01 – “The Fabian Strategy”

In the show’s season opener, we see the sour Liz Lemon enjoying a rare bout of happiness as a result of her new (and comfortably distant) relationship with pilot Carol (Matt Damon). But when Jack tries to inject a little intimacy into their relationship, Liz discovers that Carol may be a little too…um, fragile for her tastes. We also get to see Tracy enjoy some Kenneth-centric hallucinations.

The episode proved to be a strong season opener for the show mostly thanks to Matt Damon’s killer performance. His character is way too much fun to watch, and Liz definitely needed a good relationship after last season’s cringe worthy Wesley Snipes debacle. But Liz Lemon’s refreshed love life couldn’t compensate for the show’s impossible to miss Kenneth-shaped void. Though he was present in hallucinations, I missed the regular (and real) presence of 30 Rock’s moral centre and resident good guy. Jack McBrayer’s character serves as a powerful anchor on the TGS set and without him some scenes feel chaotic. Get him back into that page’s uniform and I’ll be complaint-free.

5.02 – “When it Rains, it Pours”

When Liz becomes the subject of more male attention than she considers usual, Jenna explains that it is the result of the confidence she’s gaining in her new relationship with Carol. When an editor on set (Paul Giamatti) becomes one of Liz’s new admirers, she uses it to solve the show’s problems with the editing team. Meanwhile, Jack discovers Kenneth is still doing some of his jobs at 30 Rock despite being fired.

I’m a huge fan of Paul Giamatti, but I don’t think the show used him to his full capacity here. Even though he was in the episode’s major plot line, he didn’t deliver the lines he’s capable of, which makes me all kinds of sad. Despite the lack of Giamatti in my life, the episode did deliver one of my favourite Tracy lines in the series thus far – “I don’t get brunch. What is the benefit of combining break dancing and lunch?” Whoever’s been writing Mr. Jordan’s lines all this time, reveal yourself so I can openly propose marriage! I was also super relieved to see Kenneth beginning to plan his return to NBC – like I said before, the show needs a Parcell indahaus.


7.01 – “Nepotism”

The office becomes upset with Michael when he is too lenient with the new office assistant, Luke, who also happens to be Michael’s nephew. We also find out that Andy and Erin have broken up and that Erin has begun to see Gabe, the office’s resident guy-everybody-hates.

To be brutally honest with you, The Office has slowly been going downhill for me ever since Jim and Pam got married. The writing has it’s moments but seems to fall flat more times than appropriate for a program that boasts so many utterly talented comedy powerhouses. And really – the show has mind-blowingly funny people coming out the wazoo. With Steve Carell’s impending departure set for next season, the show definitely needs a kick in the head to keep it going into the future. This episode in particular felt pretty recycled. Michael gets pushed around by a minor character while the rest of the office encourages him to stand up for himself.  A well-meaning but poorly adjusted guy who just seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time keeps a couple with great chemistry apart. The episode finally breaks through the doldrums in the climactic scene in which Michael finally reprimands Luke, but it feels too late in the episode to be rewarding. I’m really really hoping the show picks up this season – there’s so much greatness in one place at one time, all they need is the X-factor to send them over the top.

7.02 – “Counseling”

After the Luke incident, Michael is forced to enter six hours of counseling under Toby’s supervision. Pam tries to dupe her way into a pay raise by falsifying her office administrator application. Meanwhile, the office decides to “pretty woman” Dwight after he’s denied service at a store in the mall.

Ah, here’s the old Office goodness from seasons past! The episode delves into the show’s two most popular and hilarious characters in two equally strong plot lines. Watching Dwight attempt to summarize the plot of Pretty Woman was worth watching twice, as was his in-store breakdown after he confronts the manager about his denied service. Equally hilarious was Michael’s therapy sessions with Toby, where we were fortunate enough to hear him make up stories from his past in an effort to get Toby to sign off on the sessions. The winning line: “I was raised by wolves. I didn’t see my first person until I was 25.” If only they can keep this new momentum up… ah, I guess we’ll see soon enough.

What did you think of the evening’s shows? Did they sweep the first week or leave a sour aftertaste?


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