A strong night for NBC’s comedies (I’m not counting Outsourced; even though Parks and Rec is on its way back, I’m still bitter). Community celebrated Troy’s 21st birthday with a night out on the town. We saw Jeff and Britta getting smashed, Abed hit on by Paul F. Tompkins, and Pierce unable to even make it into the bar. All funny. But add Shirley trying to conceal the fact that she was once a sloppy barfly, Annie, courtesy of her fake ID, playing the anti-Annie, a drifter from Corpus Christi, and Troy growing up enough to stay sober and drive most of the gang home, and you have the most character driven episode to date. Now don’t get me wrong. I love all the pop culture references and parodies. But it’s the moments like Pierce finally asking Shirley for help or Troy walking Annie to the door of her apartment on the bad side of town and making her feel good about just being Annie that make us care about the characters. Not laugh out loud funny, but really, really well done.
Over on 30 Rock, things were far more zany. Liz uses Kenneth as a therapist which sets off a chain reaction of painful childhood memories for the pair (who really should share more subplots) and eventually Jack. Jenna wants Paul to make a sex tape; he wants her to meet his parents. So they break up. But who doesn’t think he’ll be back? Tracy supports his “son’s” ill-advised theme restaurant. Who wouldn’t want to dine while two Godzila’s (got to drop the second “l” for trademark purposes) attack each other? And any show featuring a boy who sees a pig as his surrogate father, sells the pig, and finally eats the pig to make his way to a low paying job on the Number Four Network deserves props.
Last, but far from the least, The Office began with Michael realizing that China is on the verge of ruling the world. It evolved into a battle between Michael and Oscar as to who is the smartest man at Dunder Mifflin Sabre. Now I like Oscar as a character, and he is brighter than most of his coworkers. But we’ve all known people who can’t help but show off all the minutiae they retain. So even if Michael’s final speech about the American spirit was a tad heavy-handed, it was nice to see so many co-workers in his corner. Darryl schooling Andy on the proper times to text yielded the most laughs. Best moment? Andy texting Dwight during Michael’s initial China speech to ask if he was seeing it. While they were all in the same room. And the heart of the episode was the Dwight/Pam conflict. Dwight skimping on lights, toilet paper, and soap (not to mention the roach billboard) drove Pam to seek new office space. Dwight calling her bluff led to Pam’s confession that the failed artist, the failed saleswoman, does not want to screw up again. So Dwight let her win. And it was an act of compassion.
Good times all around.