Thursday Night 'Lights: A Fun Night Out

dwight schrute, leslie knope, and jeff winger headshots

"I want to go to there." This Liz Lemon quote kept echoing inside my head while watching three-fourths of NBC's Thursday comedy block this week. Almost all the shows ventured out of familiar settings, and as a result we were treated to a housewarming party, a camping trip (with candy! and puppies!), and a garden party. And then we even witnessed a marriage proposal at the end of the night. All in all, an eventful evening. Let's dig right in!

COMMUNITY

"Welcome to Troy and Abed's apartment!"

Like I imagine a lot of recappers do, I take notes while watching TV. (They don't make a lot of sense when I review them though—for example, "Britta's hungry pizza dance after smelling up the bathroom" is among this week's gems.) But this time I was so tempted to toss the laptop and just revel in show's audacious creativity.

Community didn't need zombies or paintball to create a memorable episode, just an Abed-inspired idea of alternate timelines that managed to all intersect, so we get moments of Jeff hitting his head and Britta's attempt to sing "Roxanne" and Shirley's pies and Pierce's Eartha Kitt story over and over again to stunning effect. Hilarious, and the episode also demonstrated why this disparate group of people have stuck with each other despite their individual neuroses.

I think my favorite part was the ending, because it occurred to me that it was the first time in a while we've seen the group have fun together. It was nice to end on a note where no one was calling each other on their crap. I mean who (except Jeff) could resist singing and dancing to "Roxanne"? 

Random asides:

  • My "I want to go to there" moment from this episode was the gang dancing. They were all just adorable.
  • Annie's gun was a little over-the-top in how it was used to show how unsafe she felt in her neighborhood, leading her to perhaps move in with Troy and Abed. But it was also used to amazing effect in the darkest timeline, resulting in Pierce getting shot, Jeff losing an arm, Troy injuring his larynx from eating the Norwegian troll, and Abed creating an Evil Study Group complete with felt goatees.
  • The above sentence is why this show is like nothing else on television.
  • I liked the Troy/Britta moment in the bathroom. I hope they continue making googly eyes at each other.

 
PARKS AND RECREATION

"Say my club is better, Ron. Say it."

LIke Community, Parks and Rec made full use of its entire cast, resulting in a fantastic episode. Leslie has a competitve side that is usually stoked when someone tells her she can't do something (think of her chaining herself to a gate to preserve a gazebo). So despite her marvelous Pawnee Goddesses group, created after being excluded from the all-male Pawnee Rangers, she can't help lord her troupe's success over Ron. No boy (or human) could resist all the candy-eating and puppy-cuddling going on in the Goddess cabin, leaving Ron sad and bereft in his tarp lean-to. Eventually Leslie realizes that she has gone overboard and then creates something wonderful in typical Leslie fashion: the Swansons, the Hardcore Outdoor Club.

An equally enjoyable plotline was Treat Yo Self 2011. Donna and Tom should be paired up all the time, because their matching ecstatic expressions to the reveal of Ben in the Batman suit was the highlight of the entire night, at least for me. I like that they showed Ben's depression post-breakup from Leslie (no doubt Leslie is keeping herself busy with a million projects in order to not feel the same way) and Donna and Tom were the perfect duo to get him out of his rut.

Even Jerry got a subplot this week (and for once wasn't the others' punching bag) in which his lovely daughter Millicent was introduced to a besotted Chris. It was nice to see Jerry get a little respect—and even a hug!—from someone else on the show. It will be interesting to see where this storyline goes. I can imagine Chris will give Jerry a reason to regret he ever introduced the two.

Random asides:

  • My "I want to go to there moment" is definitely the Treat Yo Self spa/shopping trip. Although I'd probably be as nervous as Ben with the acupuncture.
  • I don't know what I want more from the Pawnee Goddesses: A Gertrude Stein or a pillow-fighting award.
  • Poor hangdog Ben in his Batman suit. I loved the image of his cape swishing heroically after he fixed the network connection.

THE OFFICE

"You know the difference between a crying baby and a manager? One day the baby will grow up."

Andy Bernard is a man desperate to be loved. That has been vital to who he is since the day we met him at the Connecticut branch. So it's not surprising that his need to be liked extends to own his parents, who seem to always favor younger brother (guest star Josh Groban) over him.

To earn his parents and Robert California's respect, Andy throws himself a garden party at Schrute Farms, which in turn treated us to delights like Dwight's cousin Mose (Parks and Rec showrunner Mike Schur) playing Evel Knievel with the guests' cars, Oscar and Darryl's "Rosebud" debate, and Dwight's outlandish garden party customs, instigated by Jim. Everything that played on the edges of this inspired setting was a lot of fun, but actual plot was predictable and drab. 

I understand that with Andy taking over as regional manager, the initial batch of episodes would focus on him.  But throughout the episode, I kept watching the other characters and was longed for stories that would put the spotlight back on them as a group. The season premiere is still my favorite of the season because they worked so well together as unit. I look forward to when The Office operates more like an ensemble again.

Random asides:

  • If I had to have an "I want to go to there," moment, it would be watching Mose try to pull of his Evel Knievel trick. Too bad Schur's showrunning duties prevent him from being on the show more often.
  • So Phillip is the future name of both Angela and Pam's babies.  Usually Pam loses her baby battles with Angela, but this time she came out triumphant by toasting her son in public and giving the touching story for the name. Perhaps Angela will name her son after her second favorite cat instead? (Also, check out this recent Bitch post about Pam's pregnancy experience on the show.)
  • I liked when the office gathered for a casual barbecue to console Andy and watch Dwight's closing ceremonies. There was a real sense of family and camaraderie glimpsed in those fleeting moments.

WHITNEY

"I kind of had to give up on romance when I fell in love with you."

So Whitney has settled into a groove in which Alex and Whitney compete with each other to prove a point. And I must say this episode wasn't all that bad. I think its because Alex was very game to compete with Whitney this time, while in past episodes he has been perplexed by Whitney's antics. From the moment he told her that she wasn't the romantic type, he was absolutely gleeful about the idea of proving to her how much she hated romance.

Last week I proposed three ways to improve the show, and while Whitney and Alex have yet to be on the same side of an argument, at least we got to see Whitney be a friend. I'd say that was progress, as was the use of character-based humor to drive the plot. Since the pilot, we can tell that Whitney is an unsentimental person, and so it would make sense that roses and swans and operatic serenades make her gag.

So yes, I didn't dislike an episode of Whitney. But I really hope the whole Alex vs. Whitney relationship wars don't continue indefinitely.

Random asides:

  • Even when enmeshed in her own dating weirdness, Blond Single can always be counted upon to point out the absurdities of Whitney's competitive schemes, this time calling it "romantic chicken."
  • Since The Schmoopie Couple are engaged, it looks like we can expect a wedding to occur this season. No doubt Whitney and Alex will find ways to argue about their bridesmaid and groomsman duties.

Previously: Thursday Night 'Lights: Since We're Stuck With Whitney, Let's Improve The Show, Thursday Night 'Lights: Who Won Must-See TV's Battle Royale?

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Oh, I want a Gertrude Stein,

Oh, I want a Gertrude Stein, too. So badly.