The Wife:

Parks & Recreation 1.6 “Rock Show”

All I can say is that I hope Ann and Andy never break up because Chris Pratt is the best part about this show. I completely understand Ann’s anger upon finding out that Andy had lied to her about when his casts could be removed just to get another two weeks of complete servitude out of her, but I also get how nice it is to be taken care of the way Ann had taken care of Andy. Let me give you a list of how funny Chris Pratt’s Andy is:

  • His songs about things that are physically near him: “Sandwich! Are you turkey or ham?” (To which Ann responds, “Ham.”)
  • The sundry items that fell into one of his casts, including some gummi bears and Ann’s iPod.
  • His long list of band names which appear to change frequently: Scare Crow Boat, Mouse Rat, Fourskin, Threeskin, Teddy Bear Suicide . . . many other suicidal inanimate objects included there.
  • The Pit song.
  • His genius plot to get back in Ann’s good graces, which I infer entirely from the look on his face when he sees the pit outside his door after she kicks him out: fall into the pit again and get hurt.
  • His reaction to Mark falling drunkenly into the pit, which is basically just an excuse to get back in Ann’s house and watch TV while Mark suffers.


Until she finds out that he lied to her, Ann spends her time flyering for Scare Crow Boat’s first concert on Andy’s newly healed legs, which she still attends that night because everyone else on Leslie’s subcommittee has agreed to go . . .except for Leslie, who attends what she thinks is a business meeting but turns out to be a date with a 62-year-old man, set up for her by her mother. Mark spends the evening at the rock show realizing that he has somehow become the third wheel to everyone in the Parks department: Ron Swanson attends with his new girlfriend, his ex-wife’s sister, who hates his ex as much as he does; Tom Haverford attends with his wife, a hot doctor who, he reminds Mark, makes, like, a ton of money; and even Intern April shows up with a gay guy she makes out with sometimes when she’s drunk. Mark tries to get Ann to see the light about being with Andy, but she rejects him outright, knowing that he’s not any better at relationships than Andy is.

Pleasedonteverbreakup!

Pleasedon'teverbreakup!

Leslie and her date show up right as Mouse Rat (formerly Scare Crow Boat) finishes its set, but Leslie’s date is too old and he falls asleep, so she spends the rest of the night drinking with Mark until last call. After which, they go to the pit and have, actually, a really sweet conversation about Leslie’s hopes to turn the pit into a park in which Mark proves to her its already a park. (“Ring Around the Diaper” and “Duck, Duck, Glass” are two games he imagines children playing there.) And then he falls in.

I’m still not 100% sure about Parks & Rec, but I think it’s starting to settle into its own groove, and I was very surprised at the sweetness and realness of this episode. Often, Leslie’s idealism and naïveté make her incredibly unrelatable, almost like she’s actually mentally insane instead of a misguided go-getter. But here, especially in her scene at the pit with Mark, she seemed the most real to me that she’s been all season, and I’d like to see more of that Leslie.

[Husband Note: I very much like the show and am 95% certain it can find a great groove next season. In addition, it might be my favorite new opening theme music of the year, but I can’t really explain why.]

30 Rock 3.22 “Kidney Now!”

Jack prepares to give his father a kidney, until Dr. Spaceman reveals that they’re not a match at all, leaving Jack to resort to the very thing the liberal media is best at: putting together fundraising telethons and gala concert events to solicit money for causes. So he pulls out all of his favors with various celebrities to get them to record a “We Are the World”-esque diddy coercing the entire nation to donate just one kidney (just one!) to Milton Green, because he really needs it. I think the plea for a kidney was best summarized by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine: “And while you don’t have two beards, you do have two kidneys. Let’s put it this way, if you had two dollars, you’d give me one, right?”

I think Cyndi Lauper might need a new liver soon . . .

I think Cyndi Lauper might need a new liver soon . . .

And how did Jack acquire some of these celebrities? It was easy to get Clay Aiken, because his cousin Kenneth promised he’d do it. Mary J. Blige owed Jack a favor because he got her out of a 20-year concert contract at Seaworld. And as for Elvis Costello? It is best that no one ever finds out that he’s actually an international art thief. Sheryl Crow ended up being the only one to get paid for it. Cyndi Lauper did it for the free booze. (I think that’s also why she was in The Threepenny Opera and on Gossip Girl.) I have no idea why Adam Levine was there, but he got the funniest lines in the whole show. In addition to his kidney appeal above, there was also him pretending he wasn’t a celebrity in front of Jenna (whom Jack didn’t want in the concert) by acting like he was from Europe (“Pleased to meet!”) and his intense desire to harm Elvis Costello in some manner: “When he isn’t looking, I’m going to punch Elvis in the back of the head.” Oh, Adam Levine. I love you. So much.

Clearly, Jack’s insanely overkill kidney drive was the crux of the episode, but there were also two other silly plots. Liz gets dragged onto the Vontella show with Jenna to promote the Dealbreaker sketch by doling out relationship advice (although, Jenna’s usual appearances on that show involve intense catfights with women pretending to be her half-sister). While Jenna is unable to answer any of the questions the audience poses to her, Liz becomes surprisingly adept at dishing out bon mots about fruit blindness (when you’re fiancé is gay and you don’t know it) and other such dealbreakers. My favorite: “Only one snake in the bed. Dealbreaker.” Eventually, because her appearance on Vontella was so popular, the women of 30 Rock start asking her for advice. Angie wants to know what to do when she finds out that Tracy rents a hotel room twice a week for two hours. Likewise, Pete’s wife wonders why Pete doesn’t want to attend their family vacation. Tripping on the power of fake advice, Liz tells both women to “S that D: shut it down,” incurring the wrath of both of her coworkers. You see, Tracy only rents a hotel room so he can shit in peace. (Angie should instead be worried that he only poops twice a week.) And Pete doesn’t want to go on his family vacation because they’re going to work on a farm, and he’s the only one with hands dexterous enough to steer the bull during mating season. But Liz refuses to stop, especially with a book deal in the works and Jack encourages her: Liz is finally getting hers.

As for Tracy, he’s invited to speak at his old high school’s commencement. He refuses because he vowed never to go back there after he left school for crying over being forced to dissect a frog in science class. He also vowed never to cry again, a fact he admits to over a montage of all the times we’ve seen Tracy cry about something. Kenneth convinces him that he should go, though, to prove to himself that he isn’t that kid anymore. When he does give his speech, he is awarded with an honorary high school diploma, which he cries about. Tracy’s plot was the weakest in this whole episode, but because Jack and Liz’s stories were so funny, this all adds up to be a pretty good, silly and weird season finale.

Other funny:

  • “Science was my most favorite subject – especially the Old Testament.” – Kenneth
  • “My Mary J. Blige Foundation is celebrating its 10th year of searching for the Loch Ness Monster.” – Mary J. Blige
  • “We called him Mean Steve. But his real name was Steve Killer.” – Tracy
  • Jack and Milton playing catch.
  • Liz and Sheryl Crow played Kidneys in the 5th grade school play. And Sheryl does not like Liz at all.

[Husband Note: In case you didn’t catch all the celebrities, a commenter on AV Club listed (I think) everybody else. That would include The Beastie Boys, Michael McDonald, Rhett Miller, Robert Randolph, Sarah Bareilles, Norah Jones, Moby, Wyclef, Talib Kweli and Rachael Yamagata.]

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.26 “Inside Probe, Pt. 2”

A continuation of last week’s Geraldo probe into what caused the disappearance of Ernie Belcher, owner of Ernie’s Crab Shack, we as viewers are pretty much left with the second half of the episode instead of a full story. Which is fine. Just give us next week’s finale and end your fourth season on a high note, and I will continue to hope that you get a fifth season, despite the idiots who misunderstand the show as “just a redneck show” in the vein of Blue Collar Comedy Tour (it isn’t) and pray for its quick death.

So what happened to Ernie Belcher? Despite Randy’s forced confession, the Hickeys had an alibi thanks to a NASCAR champion (whose word counts for three average American citizens), so Geraldo has to “stick his probe even more inside” to find out the truth. But what does he discover but a nearly town-wide belief that aliens were involved in the night of his disappearance, thanks to a series of blinding white lights that lit up the sky that night and confused all of Camden’s creatures, gay and whore. But what caused this confusion?

Claws of death unknown.

Claws of death unknown.

But lo, there’s another element to the case, and it was the episode’s saving grace. Apparently, Camden County (which we find out, finally, is located in the Central Time Zone) was hesitant to take either side during the Civil War, and instead chose to become its own individual country and fight for the Central Cause, which demanded both the North’s industrial progress and the South’s reliance on slavery. Jefferson Washington Hickey, Earl’s ancestor, even created a Central flag, but, unfortunately, the Central Cause was eliminated on the same day as its creation as soldiers from both the North and the South shot Jefferson Washington Hickey to death in an outhouse.

But, you see, Ernie was a patriot, and still kept the Central flag flying above his business year-after-year, and tasked Darnell with taking it down each night. But on the night Ernie disappeared, Darnell went up to the roof only to find a vandal trying to steal the Central flag, and after some hand-to-hand combat, accidentally knocked the flagpole into the electric pole, which in turn produced a great amount of sparks and explosions across town. It also shut off the power, which is what did Ernie in. You see, he was in the newly remodeled bathroom downstairs, changing a tape in the wall connected to his hidden bathroom cams (he produced some fetish videos, btw), but when the power went off, he fell back into the wet concrete and sank into it, leaving only a nose to stick out of the floor. How did nobody notice this nose before? They all just thought it was a nose-shaped doorstop.

…K…

I think the image of the nose is funny enough to make up for the rest of this fairly unfunny two-parter. Otherwise, let’s just finish up the season with style and grace.

The Office 5.25 “Café Disco”

If I was just going to judge this episode based on the first five minutes, I would have called this an unfortunate return to non-plot silliness that sometimes works with The Office, but most of the time is just kind of a waste of talent and 30 minutes of my time. Now that Michael’s back as boss, he has returned to his old tricks of trying to unite his employees to have a good time, which as usual is met with blank stares. This time, it’s that he has turned the Michael Scott Paper Company office (as he still has the lease) into a Café Disco where people can drink java and dance their cares away. But the people of Dunder Mifflin would rather work, and so we’re left with another episode of people hating Michael.

But by the end, something very nice happens, as small factions of employees make their way down to have a good time (except for Phyllis, who throws out her back almost immediately), and learns, once and for all, how strong they are as a group. Almost as if acting as a series finale, everybody ends up in a very good, very happy place (even Phyllis), made even better by the fact that the party, in turn, reminds Jim and Pam that they and their friends deserve an actual wedding, and not just Jim and Pam driving to Ohio to get a non-waiting-period marriage license. Even Angela is a blast, despite her proclamation that she doesn’t agree with music and what it does to people.

I don’t really know what the deal with this episode was, or why it made me feel so good after making me feel so disappointed, but I’m glad that this show continues to surprise me.

The Wife:

Parks & Recreation 1.5 “The Banquet”

“The Banquet” was a mixed bag for me, but a some of it was trying too hard or coming too close to certain clichés, yet, as far as plotting is concerned, it was pretty entertaining to watch. Even if the jokes fall flat or hackneyed, Parks & Rec is amusing when there’s an element of plot to it, otherwise it’s just nothing.

Here, Leslie’s mom, Marlene, is being honored with a local government award and Leslie wants to use her time at the banquet to not only honor her mother, whom she clearly admires and imitates, but to drum up a little bit of buzz for her pit project. Unfortunately, in her attempt to follow in the footsteps of other stars of local government, Leslie gets her hair done at a men’s barber shop and turns up at the banquet looking like a tiny Trump. Also, everyone at the banquet thinks she’s a lesbian because she brings a pink-clad femmy Ann as her plus-one, in an attempt at a joke that I think could have been done without. It was so obvious from Leslie’s ridiculous hair that lesbian jokes would arise and, thus, none of them were funny.

Or maybe they weren’t funny because we’ve moved past a moment in our culture in which we can identify someone’s sexuality just by looking at them. At least, I’d like to think we have. But what the fuck do I know, since I live in a state with a giant gay population and we still can’t let them get married. (Thanks for rubbing that in our faces, Maine and Iowa.)

It also wasn’t funny that Ann was overdressed. But the lesbian hair jokes and the dress were the biggest clichés about the episode, so I guess it’s good they got them out of the way at the beginning.

This game of got your nose has gotten way out of hand.

This game of "got your nose" has gotten way out of hand.

Anyway, at the banquet, Leslie sees the zoning chairwoman and wants to get on her good side, but doesn’t know how. When she finally gets up the courage to talk to her after “buttering her up” with some odd sentiments in her speech about Marlene (and after a strange nose-holding conversation with Mark and Ann that was funny by way of being totally, completely weird), chairwoman Janine suggests Leslie call her secretary and set up something for the next month. Leslie is proud of this, because she’s generally clueless, but her mother, the Iron Bleepedy Bleep of Pawnee, tells her that a call to a secretary is basically a diss and suggests her daughter blackmail the chairwoman to get an earlier appointment. So Marlene tells her that Janine’s husband got a DUI out of state last month, information that Leslie unsuccessfully uses to leverage a meeting with Janine, which gets a drink thrown in her face before she scurries off apologetically.

Some funny bits:

  • Tom and Mark’s date with girls in real estate post-banquet, because I think working in real estate has to be exactly that uninteresting. (“Sometimes, I forget to bring my keys when I show a house.” “Oh, yeah, that’s the worst because you have to drive all the way back and get them and then be all like, ‘Oh, I forgot my keys!’ Hehe!”)
  • Clearly, the joke about the slaughter of a settler when he tried to sell the Native Americans a baby and all of the things they used his mutilated corpse for. (“That’s the great thing about Indians back then. They used every part of the pioneer.”)
  • Ron Swanson’s speech of facts about Marlene. (“So, Marlene, it is true that you have won this award.”)
  • “Thank you, Tony, for those inspiring twitches and blinks.”
  • “It’s fun to pretend to be zoning board members.” – Mark

30 Rock 3.21 “Mamma Mia”

By far, my least favorite 30 Rock of season. And it’s probably because it relied so heavily on borrowing and not entirely subverting the plot of one of my least favorite things in the world, Mamma Mia. (Although I enjoy that Liz is obsessed with it because it’s a good example of how she straddles the line between a smart, snarky singleton and a sad, lonely middle-aged woman bordering on being Cathy from the comic strip Cathy. I mean, that did print that thing she said in the paper, “Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Aak!”)

Plot #1: Jack has three potential fathers, so Liz suggests they “Mamma Mia” the situation and invent a fake contest for Jack’s potential fathers to win so he can meet them and figure out which one is his real dad. The winners are a Korean guy, a dude whose genitalia were destroyed in the war (“It’s like a bowl of Spaghetti-Os down there”) and one seemingly-normal college professor who turns out to be a bleeding heart Jewish liberal.


“I will not be spoken to this way! I am a contest winner!” – Milton Green


Of course, after arguing with Milton, Jack realizes that he must be Milton’s son because family is supposed to be that aggravating. When Jack reveals this to Milton, he is thrilled to have a son because he needs a kidney.

Plot #2: One of Tracy’s illegitimate children found him three years ago and has been asking him for money. His experience with this additional child in his life is what prompts him to encourage Jack to find his dad, but Liz and Pete are sure that bastard son Donald is scamming Tracy . . . in part because neither of them are very good at telling how old black people are. (Liz thinks Samuel L. Jackson is 33, and is surprised, as I was, to hear that he was 61. Dude looks good for 61.) Barring acquiring Donald’s birth certificate, they try to devise some tests to determine whether or not he is scamming Tracy, one of which is having him spar with Lutz to see if his alleged Dojo is real. (It is, because Donald is wicked good at karate.) Because Cerie is pretty, she is able to get Donald’s birth certificate, which proves he’s actually one year older than 39-year-old Tracy. When Liz presents Tracy with this information, he says he already knows and that when Donald first started scamming him, he was a low-life but, with Tracy’s help, he’s actually turned his life around and become a small-business owner.

I liked the twist on Tracy’s plot a lot, actually, because it was so completely different than what we’ve come to expect from Tracy Jordan. Unlike the “I need a kidney” reveal, which was neither clever nor funny.

Plot #3: Unrelated to notions of family, Jenna’s “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!” Millionaire Matchmaker-esque sketch becomes a catchphrase-wielding hit and gets her named Funniest Woman in New York. Liz, however, is jealous and wants to share credit because she writes that sketch with Jenna. (Or, technically, the entire sketch, while Jenna just texts her gay friends.) She demands that she be allowed to do the photoshoot with Jenna, and spends most of the time looking awkward while Jenna looks hot. Then the photographer brings out the prop box, which Jenna warned Liz not to use because the photographer will always choose a shot of a celebrity looking like an idiot for the cover while holding a rubber chicken rather than choosing a shot in which the celebrity actually looks good. Desperate for credit, Liz offers to hold the rubber chicken when it’s thrown at her, and quickly becomes the star of the photoshoot for her complete lack of vanity, eventually ousting Jenna from the cover entirely when the photographer chooses Liz’s “birthing the chicken on the toilet while wearing a Grouch Marx nose-and-mustache” shot for the cover.

While the Liz-and-Jenna plot was nice in that we all know Tina Fey is very hot and she deserves magazine covers, whether or not she’s birthing a rubber chicken on the toilet, I feel like desiring credit and loving the limelight are a little out-of-character for Liz. But that said, I appreciate an actress without vanity, and I’m glad that Tina Fey is totally willing to do ridiculous shit with rubber chickens for laughs. Can she make a movie with Anna Faris? That’d be killer.

All in all, a middling episode, devoid of 30 Rock’s usual madcap humor, non-sequiturs and the other stuff I love.

Little bits of funny:

  • Donald sucking on lollies.
  • The Tracy Jordan Institute for Black Karate.
  • “Are you not telling me something, Jack? Let me guess. You bought a motorcycle with a sidecar, but your dog won’t stay on it?” – Tracy
  • I’m glad that Liz’s knowledge of Italian American culture comes from Mario Brothers.