Friday, January 20, 2012

"Oh, yeah, laugh it up, Burt!!" "I AM!!"

Scheduling conflicts kept me from watching much on Wednesday night, but it did allow me to come up with an acceptable way to watch the American Idol audition shows...I can wait until it goes off at 10, then and follow along with Dan Feinberg's live blog, fast forwarding past the parts I don't care about. Doing that, I was able to watch the whole 2 hour show in about 20 minutes.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the audition episodes? Last night's episode didn't record because of too many conflicts (as you are about to see), and I certainly don't feel like I missed anything. I am out until at least Hollywood week...then we'll see if there's anybody that actually grabs my attention.

So, anyway, I had the house and TV to myself last night and ended up basically overdosing on comedies...Modern Family, Happy Endings, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Raising Hope, Big Bang Theory, and Archer. On one hand, that made for a VERY enjoyable three hours...on the other hand, watching them all in a block like that kind of causes it all to run together, to the point where I'm struggling to remember specifics about any of them. So let's knock them out...and for the sake of my addled brain, we'll do it in the order that I watched. Maybe that will help...

Modern Family - The "Claire is unlikeable" storyline was by far the best part of this episode, both because of the meta commentary (since Julie Bowen often gets the same type of criticism), and also because it led to the two best scenes of the episode...the mock debate where Phil and the kids "buzz" her every time she pulls one of her "unlikeable" tics or shows the "bad side" of her face (which Phil and Haley disagreed on which side that was), and then the ACTUAL debate, which was best encapsulated by the viral video that resulted from it.

But if those two scenes were Modern Family at its best (which they were), the other two were the show at, if not its worst, at least its laziest. Absolutely nothing stood out to me in either of those storylines, except how telegraphed and unfunny the jokes were.

In other words, a typical Modern Family episode for that had me pausing and rewinding so that I could catch my breath (usually involving Phil and the kids), and parts that had me having to fight the temptation to fast forward.

Happy Endings - This is one that especially suffers when I gorge like this...I vividly remember laughing at this one at least as much, if not more, as I did at my other favorites (Parks and Rec and Archer). But because the plots are so thin, usually just acting as joke delivery systems, that I sometimes have a hard time recalling all the jokes the next day. But I know that Elisha Cuthbert continues to impress (in more ways than one, right? HEY NOW!!). I don't know if it's her or the writers, but they have really nailed her character (stop it), settling on a variation of a "dumb blond" without it being too cliched. "I think my baker is ripping me off" and "Four V's? That's almost FIVE!" both had me cracking up.

And, of course, the Black Wee Man...hilarious.

Parks and Recreation - First of all, I was completely unspoiled on the appearance of Paul Rudd, and I loved his character...Bobby Newport (said in the most over the top "scary" voice you can think of).

Chris Pratt continues to bring it every week. He had three moments of physical comedy in this episode that I am cracking up right now just thinking about....the initial "sneezing his head into the wall" incident that set the whole story line up, him hitting himself in the eye with a tennis ball in the background of April's talking head, and of course, him running full speed into a parked ambulance. "Call an ambulance! A different ambulance from this one that I just ran into!"

The Andy-April storyline was definitely my favorite this week ("Brain helmet", "You DROVE us here!", "Some of that is just being a human"), but the other two were typical goodness as well. The Chris/Ron plot may have been the weakest, but it still gave us the scene where Chris is laughing at Ron's refusal of his lunch offer, immediately cutting to him laughing at the diner and Ron's confusion as to how exactly that happened. "Did he drug me?"

Best comedy on television. And yeah, I'll probably be saying that every week for a while.

30 Rock - Admittedly, I kind of zoned out on this one (hey, I do have other stuff to do, believe it or not!). But two things stood out....A) the fact that this show may be the only one on TV (besides maybe South Park) that would take a controversy like Tracy Morgan's anti-gay comments and not only ADDRESS it, but actually mimic it on the show; and B) the Idiot protest, including the Frat Boys, Parrot Heads, Anti-vaccine Activists, Guy Who Won't Shut Up About Scuba Diving, and of course...celebrity spokesperson Denise Richards. ("Yeah, I'm an idiot...surprised?" "Ehh").

Raising Hope - Not much to say about this one, either, except that this show continues to be Greg Garcia at his best. I loved the early seasons of My Name is Earl, and that one eventually ran out of steam. I expect that to happen with Raising Hope, too, but for now it is consistently funny. And this week, I laughed out loud several times, especially EVERY time Garrett Dillahunt had to crash through his red Solo cup fort in order to look up something else on the internet for Jimmy. ("Why does one word have two definitions?? JUST MAKE MORE WORDS!!!).

Big Bang Theory - Meh. It is what it is, much like any other Chuck Lorre show. I laughed a couple of times, I cringed several times (all of the scenes where Howard and Raj cracked up at the word "wood"), and I continue to think that I might rather watch a show in which the female characters were the leads and the guys were ancillary. The show is sort of close to that now at times already...and I think Amy and Bernadette steal the show many weeks the same way Sheldon did early on.

As for me, I am 100% Team Bernadette. Just the right mix of good looks and insanity.

Archer - What a fantastic return episode that was, even if it was not one of my all time favorite episodes of the show. It was just great to fall back into the tremendous comic rhythms that this show has that I don't think any other show on TV can match.

The show didn't have enough Pam and Cheryl for it to be one of the top ones for me, but pretty much everything to do with mega guest star Burt Reynolds was gold. Woodhouse constantly confusing him for Clark Gable...the amazing chase scene (including the meta commentary on the same footage being used for two separate crashes and the shoutout to stuntman extraordinaire Hal Needham (more on that in a minute))... and, especially the scene with Archer and Burt riding the elevator discussing Archer's battles with the co-op board over installing a Batpole in the garbage chute. That scene was some Tarantino level stuff.

The parts that DID include Pam and Cheryl, of course, included most of the stuff that I can't print here and keep it family friendly...but that's what I love about the show: the fact that when it wants to get raunchy it can push the envelope as much as anybody, but it's not content just being that show. It's also smart enough that there are usually 2-3 jokes every week that require me to hit up Google in order to fully appreciate them (like the Hal Needham reference).

So this show certainly isn't for all of you...if you are easily offended, STAY AWAY. But I'm certainly glad to have it back.

Chuck is winding down its final season for sure, and Fringe may be doing the same. I didn't do writeups for Fringe and Chuck last week, although I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I'll try to get some thoughts up over the weekend if the schedule allows.

Portlandia is another show that I would recommend and will be watching, though I'm not sure what all I'll be writing about it on the blog. It's on IFC at 10, and it is a sketch show from Fred Armisen (from SNL) and Carrie Brownstein. If you are like me and came of age in the 90's, or if you just like Fred Armisen's style of humor, I definitely suggest checking it out.

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