The Husband:

Among many other reasons, I waited to do this write up on last Thursday’s NBC comedies because the fate of My Name Is Earl hadn’t been decided yet. As of yesterday, it has been dropped completely from the NBC schedule, and unless it is granted a last-minute pick-up by FOX (which is unlikely), this was the last Earl of all time. For weeks now, I’ve been raging against those who pick on the show for, you know, having a personality and being a very specific kind of funny and actually having a message while not cramming it down your throats. While never breaking the Top 40 (no comedy on NBC’s comedy block can claim that, actually), Earl was a big deal for a couple seasons until it took a turn that people didn’t like (I’m not included in those “people”) and really started to ease into itself.

At the same time, however, I understand that this season wasn’t spectacular (no one season was, not even the first), and as it has been on for four full years, it’s okay for it to go away. I am all for good new shows, but as it is with any year and with any show, that’s always a crap shoot. And with Leno taking up five hours of prime-time NBC television a week out of sheer greed and douchiness, there are fewer spots than ever before to impress me with new programming. So as saddened as I am to see Earl go, I will look back fondly on the hundred episodes and be grateful that such a strange, nutty and sweet show was allowed to live this long.

And with this final episode, we get both a reminder of how goddamn funny the show is, but also a cliffhanger that seems like a desperate renewal ploy, something the show had never done before. (Even when Earl went to jail at the end of season 2, it felt like a solid ending, as his sacrifice for Joy was a huge karmic plus, for some reason reminding me of the ending of the otherwise shitty Brokedown Palace.) But yes, as Earl takes on #174 (“ruined Dodge’s career day”), he and Darnell learn that Joy has been lying all along about who is Dodge’s father. Before, she had no idea, but after being caught in a lie, she admits that it was Little Chubby, a.k.a. Norm MacDonald doing a Burt Reynolds impersonation, or, more appropriately, an impersonation of Burt Reynolds’ son, as the mustachioed man himself played Big Chubby.

Where are my Hulk hands?

Where are my Hulk hands?

When we last checked in on Little Chubby, he had taken a baseball in the nuts in order to cure his asshole nature (when he has testicles, he’s a jerk just like his father, but without them, he’s a philanthropist), but now he’s back to his old ways, as he simply couldn’t run a strip club without having a discerning eye. (e.g. He allows an octogenarian to become a stripper, which ends badly when her vagina falls off.) So now he has giant fake animal balls and is acting like a major jerk. He’s even running a bizarre SAT Tutorial at Club Chubby.


“Little Chubby Tutorial is to SAT prep as Club Chubby is to erections.” – Little Chubby


Because of his jerkiness, he will not allow Earl to take some of his DNA to prove that Dodge is his son, and after failing to grab Big Chubby’s DNA from his coffin by accidentally setting it on fire (which is to be expected, as the funeral involved people pouring massive amounts of booze on the body), Darnell uses his skills (having worked at the CIA, a circus, and is a member of the plumber’s union) to reach from below Little Chubby’s toilet in order to steal a pubic hair.

(See? This show is way too bizarre for network television.)

But when the results come back, Earl learns that Little Chubby isn’t the father. How can this be? Joy was quite drunk at a Halloween party at the Crab Shack, so she wasn’t very choosy by the end of the night. But she mistook Little Chubby, who was dressed as a skeleton, as somebody else dressed in the same outfit.


“Was that the Halloween party where Fat Steve dressed up like the Kool Aid man and broke his nose trying to run through a wall?” – Earl


And so, Earl actually is Dodge’s biological father, and when a pregnant Joy had tricked a hammered Earl to marry her so many years ago, it wasn’t as sketchy as it seemed.

But oh, there’s another twist. It turns out that Earl, Jr. (a.k.a. the “non-white” one) isn’t Darnell’s child either, and that Joy has another secret. But as she’s about to tell, the episode ends, and the viewers are left with a now-depressing “To Be Continued…”

Oy. Definitely desperate. But also interesting. It’s a neat way to turn the show upside-down for its assumed fifth season, but as that is no longer happening, it’s a lost trick. Especially since Randy wasn’t featured in the episode at all.

Two other funny lines:

  • “I’m the only reason you kids aren’t speaking Russian right now.” – Darnell at Career Day
  • “Where did you find that sweater? JaCrew?!” – Joy mocking Earl’s choice of wardrobe

I will miss you, Earl, your misunderstood ways, your over-insistence on guest stars and your creepy relation to Scientologists. But Jason Lee is a damn good actor, and his future continues to be nothing but wide open. And now Eddie Steeples and Nadine Velazquez can finally go forth into the world of comedy and character acting. They’re both that good.

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.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.25 “Inside Probe, Pt. 1”

Being as this is the first section of a two-parter, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this episode other than its build-up, but I also didn’t want to leave the Office review on its own, so here goes.

Starting like Earl‘s previous “Our COPS is on” episodes, Randy runs into the crab shack, TV Guide in tow, but this time it’s for their featured Inside Probe, an Inside Edition-like primetime newsmagazine special hosted by Geraldo Rivera. (Who Earl can’t seem to stop calling Gerardo…?) But what in Camden County could possibly be worthy enough of a network investigative piece? Why, the disappearance of Ernie, the founder and original owner of Ernie’s Crab Shack, of course. (The special, by the way, is titled “Claws Of Death: Unknown.”)

Red rum and crab shacks.

Red rum and crab shacks.

As Geraldo gets into the nitty gritty of the years old case — the special was meant to air years earlier, but Darnell wouldn’t sign off on his likeness as he was still in the witness protection program — a focus seems to emerge, and that focus is directly on the Hickey clan and their friends. Earl and Randy, especially, raise suspicions due to their lengthy police records, leading to even more focus on Joy, Darnell, Catalina and Patty the hooker. (Those last two were a major part of Ernie’s life, as he would go see Catalina dance, and then get his rocks off later with Patty.)

That’s about it. It was all set-up, giving us just a bit more backstory into most of the characters we already know. (One thing I didn’t know? Randy Hickey’s middle name is “Doo.”) And other than two out-of-nowhere Howard Stern references, it wasn’t that funny of an episode. But hey, it’s only the first half, so I should probably just keep my mouth shut.

Okay, Joy did have two good lines.


Randy, are those you toe nails in the ice cube tray?

And at the end of the episode, where the main characters are complaining about the episode of Inside Probe being split up over two weeks, they bitch about how the networks treat certain shows, to which Joy adds:


Plus you can’t curse ’til a certain time of night.

[checks watch]

Douchebags.

The Office 5.24 “Casual Friday”

Without question, one of the best Office episodes of the year and of the series run, this was a stellar combination of comedy and drama, main characters and ensemble, goofy humor and cruel humor. This is a perfect episode, and I dare those who claim they don’t like this season to find this episode bad. Sometimes The Office takes an entire episode just to support a few instances of comedy, while others lose most of the comedy to focus on the well-earned dramatic aspects. But not here, no siree.

Now that Michael, Pam and Ryan are back at Dunder Mifflin, the non-quitting DMers are now pissed that they don’t get their clients back. (You know, the ones that the Michael Scott Paper Company stole from them.) This is made especially problematic because in order for Pam and Ryan to continue as employees as DM, they need these clients, otherwise they’re just a waste of money. And so the office turns on the three turncoats (can one technically turn on a turncoat) and, led by Dwight, quickly forms a mutiny against Michael.


Andy: It’s on like a prawn who yawns at dawn.

Dwight: Stop doing rhyming poetry!

But Jim isn’t one to mutiny, and so he goes to Michael and informs him of the impending storm, and that Michael has a great deal of damage control ahead of him. But Michael, as he puts it, is “not to be truffled with,” and meets with the sales staff, where he learns of his only option to avoid mutiny— let either Pam or Ryan go. And who does he ask for an unbiased opinion but Jim. Jim, of course, will never turn on Pam, and gets angry at Michael for bringing up some of Pam’s biggest faults as an employee.

Please dont fire my future wife. That would make things really awkward at home.

Please don't fire my future wife. That would make things really awkward at home.

But Michael, finally, makes the right decision, and after fake firing Pam — an unfunny thing Michael seems to like doing to everybody over the years — he hires Pam and offers Ryan back his old temp position. (Ryan did, after all, almost sink the company when at Corporate.)

This is all enough material for an entire episode, but the show isn’t satisfied with that, so it adds to the whole kerfuffle the drama over it being Casual Friday, which in turn leads to some major battles over what is and isn’t appropriate workplace attire. (As assumed, Meredith shows up in a tiny dress without any undergarments, and Kelly tries to pull a J-Lo.)

And those aren’t even the two biggest laughs. One, from the underused Darryl (Craig Robinson):


“What did I tell you about building forts in my warehouse?”

And later, Jim tries to avoid all the madness at the office, playing a game of Scrabble with Creed.


Creed: Hey, I wanna set you up with my daughter.

Jim: Oh, I’m engaged to Pam.

Creed: I thought you were gay.

Jim: Then why would you want to set me up with your daughter?

Creed: I don’t know.

Comedy writers, take note. This is how to do a perfect episode, one of laughs, characters, emotions and greatly progressing storylines. Laughs are meaningless without a connection, and The Office knows that through and through.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.24 “Gospel”

As My Name Is Earl comes close to, perhaps, ending its four-season run, it gave us this spiritual throwback to earlier seasons, when the plots may not have been as intricate as they grew to be over the show’s evolution, but relied enough on character work to make everything seem like it’s working hard for your money. A “hick show” this isn’t, but one based on a quite varied concept of spirituality and faith, without any of those religious implications that get in the way of what really matters – being a good person.

After meeting a preacher at a local fair, Earl decides to take on #34 on his list – stole an organ from a church. Why? He and Randy completely misunderstood the concept of “selling organs on the black market.” Whatever. To make up for it, they bring the organ back to the church, and Earl learns more of the preacher – he was once known as Hash Brown, a violent, short-tempered gangbanger who found God while in prison. Oh, and one more thing – Earl has done more than one unkarmic thing to this preacher. First, he stole his tool kit while Hash Brown was a construction worker, and to add insult to injury, Earl knocked over the port-a-potty Hash Brown was using. The preacher is a forgiving man, though, and simply asks that Earl and Randy attend the church’s next service.

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance!

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance!

At the service, the preacher and his congregation forgive the Hickeys, and then moved by the spirit confess transgressions of their own. This is fine, until the preacher’s wife stands up and declares that she slept with Earl with Hash Brown was in prison. (At the time, Earl had realized that picking up women outside of jail was a great idea.) The preacher, in turn, reverts back into Hash Brown and beats the shit out of Earl, grabs some valuable items from his lectern and goes out to his truck, declaring that God owes him ten years of missed income from Hash Brown’s business of selling crack. Earl, struggling to save the situation, notices that Hash Brown’s truck has a busted taillight. In fact, Earl had once tried to have Randy catch a bullet as a magic trick, a bullet that went through Randy’s hand and broke the truck’s taillight. Fortunately, this busted taillight got Hash Brown pulled over by the police so many years earlier, which in turn led to his incarceration and reawakening. No harm, no foul, and the preacher understands it as divine intervention.

In the B-story, Joy had become so drunk at the church fair on wine in Dixie cups that Darnell won’t let her drive him, so she wanders around Camden until she comes across a sit-down lawnmower. Now drunkenly driving quite slow around the neighborhood, she sees Catalina and runs her down, jealous of all the prizes she won at the fair that Joy wanted for herself. Realizing that she has two strikes and can’t get in trouble again (sort of the focal point for season 2’s court case that put Earl in jail), she drives the unconscious Catalina to a shed and pins her against the wall, figuring out what to do so that Catalina doesn’t call the cops.

“That psychic was right – I am going to die in a shack, pinned to the all by a lawnmower.” – Catalina

When Joy comes back the next day, she has Darnell in tow. Usually the voice of reason, Darnell can think of no other solution but to kill Catalina, and just as he is about to slash her throat (as Joy’s husband, this is in some ways the most reasonable solution), Joy knocks him out with a swift shovel blow to the head. Moved by Joy’s own intervention, Catalina promises to keep her mouth shut.

While not a great episode, I’ve always been drawn to the stories where one of Earl’s transgressions turns into several, and like an episode of a Larry David show, the decks get stacked so high against Earl that it’s fun to watch him flail.

The Office 5.23 “Broke”

Despite having taken a good deal of business away from Dunder Mifflin, the Michael Scott Paper Company (MSPC) seems to be approaching bankruptcy, thanks in no small part of Michael’s ignorance of how much it costs to expand a business beyond three employees who do all their early-morning deliveries by themselves in a van bought from a Korean church. (And as the logo is still on the side of the van, so every once in a while a Korean member of the Scranton community will hope on board.) By the way, what does Pam discover is Michael’s drink every morning? Milk and sugar. Nothing more. (Lufthansaaaaaa…)

“Ever since I’ve gotten clean, something about fresh 5 a.m. air makes me sick.” – Ryan

The important thing, however, is that Minor and Wallace at Dunder Mifflin don’t realize how close MSPC is to going belly-up, and as a result decide that it’s probably the best idea to simply buy them out. As Minor is starting to realize that Dwight, while possessing the best intentions, is a complete embarrassment through and through, he lets Jim go down to MSPC to propose a buy-out meeting.

Oh, no, this is a completely unfavorable situation.

Oh, no, this is a completely unfavorable situation.

Pam is especially excited for the deal to go through, because she has noticed that, on her quest to get some weekend work, she can’t even get call-backs from the likes of Old Navy, Target and Walmart. She and Ryan convince Michael to go through with it, as well as to do the best he can not to bring up the company’s financial situation. After all, she can’t really blame him for his failure:

“When a child gets behind the wheel of a car and runs into a tree, you don’t blame the child. He didn’t know any better. You blame the 30-year-old woman who got in the passenger seat and said, “Drive, kid. I trust you.’” – Pam

Upstairs at Dunder Mifflin, Michael stands up and gets Minor and Wallace to increase their offer from $12,000 all the way to $60,000, and in a moment of complete loyalty, Michael demands that all three members of the MSPC be allowed to work at Dunder Mifflin again. And this time, Pam is to be a salesperson.

(This is even despite Dwight’s warning that the company is, in fact, going under, as he has discovered that the MSPC made a round of calls to their clients asking for more money. However, Jim frustrates Dwight so much in front of Minor that Dwight ended up looking like an idiot.)

I’m not really sure why Wallace agrees to all the terms, but it definitely avoids a headache down the line. Michael had made a good speech moments earlier that even if the MSPC fails, he’ll just start another paper company, and then another, then another, so I guess that even if Michael is clearly a terrible businessman, his determination is enough to cause Corporate some discomfort.

A very forceful, very triumphant episode that more than makes up for a few lags over the last few episodes, as it proves that the show is completely incapable of spinning its wheels anymore. Comedy is one thing, but story is another.

Other funny bits:

  • “Come along, afterthought.” – Dwight
  • “Well well well…how the turntables…[pause]…” – Michael

The Wife:

Parks and Recreation 1.3 “The Reporter”

This episode was Parks & Recreations foray into having a plot, which was fine and all because plots are generally good things to have, but this one never really got any momentum behind it. (The first two episodes of this show I’d consider pretty plotless, and yet both moved toward some kind of denouement that actually, I felt, went somewhere.) In an attempt to drum up publicity for her pit-into-park project, Leslie sets up an interview with a reporter. Naturally, because everyone involved in this project but Ann (and maybe Mark Brandanawicz at times) is an idiot, they say things during the interview that they probably shouldn’t have said, like Chris Pratt’s revelation that he was drunk and searching for a toaster when he fell into the pit and broke his legs. I had kind of assumed that, but apparently Ann didn’t and now there exists a tape recording of his admitting to drunkenness which he didn’t tell the hospital when they gave him anesthesia in the ER.

Oh, God. Thats so great that they have that on tape now. Thank you.

Oh, God. That's so great that they have that on tape now. Thank you.

Leslie asks Mark to ameliorate the situation and charm reporter Shauna into writing a more positive article than the interview would lead her to. So Mark sleeps with her, which completely destroys Leslie when she realizes what has happened. Shauna quotes something Mark said to her about the park never, ever, ever going to come to fruition and Leslie asks him to get her not to write that, but she does anyway when he tells her that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her. The article remains mostly negative.

I guess my issue with this plot is that I find Leslie’s obsession with Mark too based in insane delusion than actual affection to care what he does one way or the other. I’m sure this has something to do with the way Poehler plays Leslie as perpetually optimistic, even to her determent, but in cases like this one, it’s really difficult to connect to Leslie’s feelings. She comes off as completely insane rather than completely human. (Husband Note: To be fair, Michael’s obsession with boss Jan over on The Office was also based primarily in insane delusion, but ultimately led to something much, much bigger.) I did, however, think her automatic response to Shauna sleeping with Mark was pretty great though, as she takes a breather from the interview to go lay down inside her government-issued vehicle, which in some way reiterates a theme her about bureaucracy being a way Leslie protects herself from being wholly human. It was also amusing.

Anyway, things that were very funny in this largely blank episode were:

  • Raccoons, which are never unfunny. They’re nature’s bandits.
  • A third joke about the brutal slaughter of Native Americans, this one a mural featuring a chief about to be shot by a cannon at close range. And yes, the fact that I find these jokes so funny does inherently disturb me. Who the fuck am I?
  • Tom Haverford’s approach to making his boss like him by intentionally losing at Scrabble. How badly does he play? With enough tiles to play FISHING for a bingo, Tom just plays his S next to an open I for a two-point play of IS. Man, I love Scrabble jokes!


30 Rock 3.19 “The Ones”

In this week’s A-story, Elisa returns, but doesn’t want to marry Jack because of her terrible secret. That secret? Her first husband cheated on her and she killed him, which became a pretty inescapable fact once a pop song was written about her, making her just like Helo Pinhiero, the Girl from Ipanema . . . if the girl from Ipanema were a murderess. Liz advises Jack that if she loves Elisa, he just shouldn’t cheat on her and marry her anyway. After all, Jack says, “right now, somebody is on a J-date with Monica Lewinski,” proving that even those with sordid pasts deserve love and forgiveness. But ultimately, Elisa doesn’t want to marry Jack and they break up.

The B- and C-stories were also about love and finding “The One” or not pissing off “The One” after you’ve found them. When an accident causes an LCD screen to fall on an employee’s head, Jenna meets and falls for a cute EMT, but his phone number gets eaten by the patient before Jenna can return. She pines for him in song like a Disney princess, and Pete asks her what she would do if she met a man at a funeral and wanted to see him again. Jenna proves she’s a sociopath by saying that, obviously, she would murder the deceased’s relative to see if the mystery man would come to that funeral, followed by a few other unnecessary murders. And so she goes on a near-death rampage, repeatedly poisoning Kenneth with strawberries (which make him go into anaphylactic shock) in order to see the cute paramedic again. The staff eventually tricks Jenna into think she’s killed Kenneth to get her to stop, but when Kenneth realizes why she was poisoning him, he drinks the potentially lethal strawberry water one last time to help Jenna meet the man of her dreams. Only when she does, she finds out he has a son, which means he definitely can’t be the one. Because Jenna hates children.

I think everyone needs a tattoo that basically says, Ima cut you!

I think everyone needs a tattoo that basically says, "I'ma cut you!"


As for Tracy, he can’t decide what to get his wife for their anniversary, so Liz suggests that rather than buying her meaningless gifts, he just ask her what she wants. And what does Angie want? Tracy to tattoo her name and image on his stomach, which is problematic because his signature move to get the ladies to want him is to lift up his shirt. DotCom suggests that Tracy get the tattoo, but simply draw a mane and add a few letters to it in Sharpie when he goes out so that it appears to be a lion named Tangiers.

“DotCom, that’s a great idea . . . if you want everyone to think I own a gay lion!” – Tracy

Tracy takes Jack out to help him decide not to cheat on Elisa and although they are surrounded by beautiful groupies, Tracy reveals his secret that he has never, ever cheated on his wife. The partying is all for show, but he loves and fears Angie too much to ever betray her. “All those phone numbers I hand out?” he says, “They’re not even mine.” They’re actually Brian Williams’, who, when called, will ask a booty call to come to Connecticut. I love Brian Williams. That dude is such a good sport. So Tracy does get that tattoo for Angie . . . only he gets it on his back . . . and it’s the tattoo of Tangiers, the gay lion. Oops.

Liz returned to her role as the bastion of normalcy in the wacky world of 30 Rock, even though she spent this entire episode wearing a Slanket, which seems infinitely cooler than a Snuggie, and comes in more colors!

Other funny:


  • “She is very spirited. Like a showhorse.” – The Cartier salesclerk, on Liz when he thinks Jack is buying a ring for her before revealing the real showroom when he sees a picture of Elisa
  • “You are wise, Liz Lemon. Like a genetically manipulated shark.” – Tracy
  • “I still think that would have sold much better if he had shot me in the face.” – Jenna, on the album she cut with Phil Spector
  • Liz: What do you want me to say, Tracy? I’m sorry I made it harder for you to cheat on your wife?
    Tracy: That’s a start, Liz Lemon. That’s a start.
  • “Could the hats have feathers? Yes! Yes!” – The Pranksmen
  • “I heard you singing, ‘Night Cheese.'” – Jack
  • “Eventually, it makes me loco for chocopuffs.” – Elisa, still not totally great at English advertising slogans, especially since she just spent two months away speaking no English whatsoever


And my favorite totally weird-ass reference of the night, from Kenneth, as he chokes on a strawberry:


“Oh no! Strawberries! My real name is Dick Whitman!”

If only Jon Hamm were around for that moment . . . I get why 30 Rock would make a Mad Men joke as both are critically acclaimed shows that don’t get the kind of ratings they deserve, and Jon Hamm did, in fact, guest on the show for awhile. But why Elisa has a Battlestar Galactica tee-shirt, I have no idea.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.23 “Bullies”

It seems we’re close to wrapping up the fourth season of My Name Is Earl, and as the show has finally reached the point where it can be considered “on the bubble” for being renewed for next season, the haters are coming out of the woodwork. In the last week, I have discovered that there are far more people who despise this show than I ever considered possible. It seems that this show has been labeled as “that hick show,” a dumbass 30 minutes of nothing but Middle America bullshit dumb humor that has put us under its spell. People can’t wait for this show to disappear.

I’m surprised, because I always found this show far too intelligent and too strange to be horrible. And I think anything this strange can’t be altogether bad. People who ignore the show’s wit and cleverness clearly haven’t seen too many episodes, and people who say it barely elicits a chuckle clearly never stuck around for lines like the following, taken from my articles simply on this season:

  • “Collect her tears! We can all live forever!”
  • “You can’t just ship a turtle, Earl. It’s not like a vase or a person.”
  • “Only thing I ever sewed was my stab wound on prom night!”
  • “You didn’t feed yourself. You just talked a homeless woman into cooking baby birds for you.”
  • “What an idiot. The baby formula is man plus woman. Everyone knows that!”
  • “Baby, look what we’re doing. I’m pimping out a fishing boat. You turned the boys into some kind of love yo-yos. This doesn’t seem like good parenting.”

And that’s just half of this season, which while good is definitely my least favorite of the four seasons. (Other than Frankie Valli.)

And how about my favorite line from last season?

“I just want to live in a world where tampons aren’t made out of hay.”

I’m sorry folks — I’m about as far removed from Middle America as you can get, and I think the show is a pseudo-brilliant absurdist comedy with some of the nicest and most relatable characters on TV. God forbid that the show deals with lessons and spirituality (in a completely fucked-up way, of course) and that’s too much for you to handle, but simply misunderstanding a show isn’t enough for hatred. Just like those who hate King of the Hill. I hate to be this person, but I think these people simply don’t get it. Unlike the shows that I may or may not get, which I chalk up to the lack of variation from week-to-week (any CSI, Two and a Half Men, etc.), these two shows seem to be picked on because they’re different.

Whatever. If I were a praying man, I’d pray for this show to come back. It works just fine where it is.

Uh, well just chill on your porch for a little bit, okay?

Uh, we'll just chill on your porch for a little bit, okay?

This week, Earl took on #32: bullied Wally Panser. Back when he was a kid, Earl tormented this tiny boy with the funny name and a love for butterflies. But now all grown up, the boy has become the giant Matthew Willig (former offensive tackle for USC and several pro ball teams), and is big enough to make Earl go by a nom de plume and pretend that he is there to be a workout buddy. While he tries to figure out a way to atone for his past and not get his ass beat, Randy takes some advice from some Roid Heads at the gym and takes a supplement that would help him stand up to his personal bully — Joy. Unfortunately, this supplement is shark adrenaline shot directly into his scrotum, a term Randy doesn’t know until the needle is in his nutsack.

This turns into a mega-fight when Wally discovers Earl’s true identity and Randy gets roid rage that becomes more funny than violent. But, thankfully, Earl finds that he can convince Wally to muster up the confidence and courage to compete in the Camden muscleman competition. (He didn’t want to shave his body hair off, nor did he think they’d like his love for butterflies.)

Fuck, please don’t take away any show that has a character mutter the following:

“You just released more shark juice from my scrote!”

The Office 5.22 “Heavy Competition”

A program that doesn’t need a save-our-show campaign is The Office, which continues making bold steps in a new direction this year. That doesn’t, however, make this week’s episode any funnier, a 30-minute set of bizarre double-crosses that did a great job in evolving its characters but somehow managed to bore me.

Other than the funny cold open, in which the three employees of the Michael Scott Paper Company found about two dozen ways to toss cheese puffs into each other’s mouths, there wasn’t a whole lot of laughter to be found in this episode, which chronicled the one-upmanship between Michael and Dwight, resulting in wiretapping, betrayal and nudity, leading up to Michael finally showing his true colors as a great salesman by basically stealing Dwight’s biggest client right out from under him.

Sell this, bitch! Sell it!

Sell this, bitch! Sell it!

Meanwhile, Jim decides to play a major prank on Andy (for no particular reason) which basically exists simply to mock Andy’s bizarre hopelessness when it comes to romance, which seems more cruel than funny. Dwight, I think, deserves all the pranks Jim can muster up, but Andy is just a lost man.

But what was funny was Andy trying to sell off all his leftover wedding appointments and dates to Jim and Pam, including his Cornell a capella group Here Comes Treble, who we find out was going to sing Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” during the wedding procession.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.22 “Pinky”

As Earl tries to solve #83 on his list (“never took the time to teach Randy how to blow a bubble”), we the viewers finally get an explanation to where the hell the pretty Camdenite lady went after last season’s finale. Turns out, she and Randy broke up, and she’s now at truck driving school. (I think I mentioned before that the actress who played said Camdenite, Deborah Ann Woll, is a friend of a friend of my sister, so her absence was especially notable here at Chez Children Of Saint Clare.)

That aside, Earl has something else to deal with, when Joy begins complaining that her son, Dodge, has been seen hanging out with one of Eugenia’s daughters acting all lovey-dovey.

“No son of mine is going to date something that came out of Eugenia’s devil chute.” — Joy

This in turn causes Randy to think back fondly to his childhood, when he and Earl used to spend time at the lake with their deliriously fat aunt as punishment, and how Randy was in love with a girl known only as “Pinky” (due to her pink hair), and was known to her as “Skipper,” due to his great ability to skip ocks. Unfortunately, when they were to meet on a bridge to finally have their first kiss, Pinky never showed up, and thus Randy lost his one true love.

Now 20 years later, Earl and Randy go back to the lake to track Pinky down, but the old employee there has enough on his mind.

“My penis lost all feeling in 1993.”

But when Randy mentions that the girl had pink hair, the employee knows immediately how to track her down, and, luck be to Randy, convinces her to return to the bridge so many years after the fact. Upon reaching the bridge, Randy discovers the horrible truth — Pinky is Joy. (OH NOES!)

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Turns out, Earl has been trying to stop Randy from pursuing Pinky because, 20 years earlier, Earl was so jealous that Randy was pursuing his first love while Earl was dealing with dying out his aunt’s fat folds that he forged a note and gave it to Pinky, a note that declared that the Skipper hated Pinky, and he wasn’t going to show up.

So now, he has a new list item — #277, broke up Randy and Pinky.

Her eyes finally open to this terrible situation, Joy wants nothing to do with Randy, but agrees to at least give him a kiss, but only if Earl breaks up Dodge and Eugenia’s daughter.

“My body, my choice, hear me roar, kiss my grits.” — Joy

Earl goes through with the plan quite easily, using the same forged note trick, but not without getting kicked in the junk and being called a pedophile.

Back at the bridge, Joy makes Randy swig some bleach dyed green (to clear out that Petri dish of a mouth), but is still having trouble trying to kiss her former brother-in-law and sworn social enemy. Randy tries to remind her of the delightful child she once was by trying to give her orange soda and some sweet tunes courtesy of a Bobby Brown album.

“I traded in orange soda for strawberry wine when I was 13, and I stopped liking Bobby Brown when he started picking doodie out of Whitney Houston.” — Joy

Finally, though, Randy and Joy share a sweet kiss, and everybody moves on with their life.

Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

Considering this was a non-ensemble episode, these 30 minutes still really got a rise out of me due to its sweetness and longing, even if it ultimately tells us that life never really works out the way we planned it. I wish more Earl episodes could be like this, but with only two left in the season, I think I’m just going to have to wish that the showrunners and writers figure out that, with this show, heartfelt is always better than wacky, and that perhaps next season could be a bit more character-driven. (And a few really good multi-episode arcs, please. I want to know I’m watching the fifth season of something, and not just a rehash of something I saw back in 2005.)

The Office 5.19 “Two Weeks”

After Michael finally stood up to Corporate last week and declared his resignation from Dunder Mifflin, he still has to drag himself through his final two weeks, and, as Jim points out, there is a surprisingly big difference between Michael trying and Michael not trying. (This includes Michael walking around the office with Splenda-seasoned scotch, and smacking pieces of paper away from his employees with one of those sticky hand ropes you get at drug stores.) But when somebody else comes into the office to interview for Michael’s old position, Michael learns that the sinking economy will more likely than not leave him completely unemployed for an extended period of time. And looking for jobs online isn’t really going well, either.

[Horrible moaning and groaning sounds emanate from Michael’s computer]

Jim [to Michael]: It’s “Monster.com.” Singular.

[Horrible noises cease]

Finally, Michael comes up with what he believes is a brilliant idea — start up his own paper company called, cleverly enough, Michael Scott Paper Company. He feels he knows everything there is to know about the paper company (which he doesn’t) and begins trying to recruit his former employees into joining him at his new venture. But nobody’s biting, for obvious reasons.

“You know what? I had a great time at prom, and no one said ‘yes’ to that, either.” — Michael

When new boss Charles Minor gets wind of Michael’s new business venture, he has him thrown out of the building. But that doesn’t stop Michael, who sneaks back into the office to grab some necessary paperwork and to try to rope at least one person into his new company.

Defect with me, Jim!

Defect with me, Jim!

Finally, Pam, a mixture of her recent terrible bout with the new copier and…well…pretty much all the bad shit she had to go through at Dunder Mifflin, agrees to ditch the company to help Michael, but this time she will no longer be a receptionist, but instead be a salesman.

A fairly laugh-less episode other than the two previous quotes, plus Dwight’s complete misunderstanding of the “headhunter” concept, but since this has been and will always be a dramedy, that’s okay. Not a whole lot was accomplished in the episode’s 30 minutes that couldn’t have been done in about ten, but at least they’re taking their time with a story that could, potentially, change everything we think we know about The Office, and are still leaving us with what I believe is the show’s best season.

The Wife:

30 Rock 3.16 “Apollo, Apollo”

Much like Jason Segel, I truly, truly love puppets. If I could see the world the way Kenneth sees it, I would be a happy lady. Especially if the puppets occasionally sang to me. That’d be totally sweet.

This was a truly wacky, really funny episode, filled with good visual gags about Jack, Kenneth and Tracy’s various modes of seeing the world, and lots of funny lines from Liz’s ex Dennis about his newly made-up sex addition.

Jack: Jack is on the even of turning 50, and wants to complete the list of things 10-year-old Jack set out to accomplish before turning 50.

“I have hunted the world’s most dangerous game: man . . . atee. Manatee.” –Jack

The only thing left on his list is to make friends with Batman. But, as Jack attends his 50th birthday party and is introduced by the wrong name by Adam West, he realizes that he’ll never be as happy as he was on his tenth birthday, when he didn’t even get to open his gift because he was so excited that he threw up all over it, so he begins a quest to find out what that present was by employing a number of odd experts, such as a Deaf lip reader, who discerns that he was saying “Apollo, Apollo” before he inevitably threw up on the present. (And she is very, very upset that he neglected to warn her of the vomit scene). Jack buys himself that Apollo model rocket, but is still somewhat unfulfilled.

Tracy: Tracy declares at a press conference that he wants to fulfill his lifelong dream of going into space. In order to prevent Tracy from actually going into space or otherwise doing something stupid, Liz gets Pete to fake a space expedition within the halls of 30 Rock, all so Tracy can kill an Ewok. I love how the whole staff contributes to the illusion by telling Tracy he has to be blindfolded until he gets in the cockpit to prevent “space madness” and subsequently stops all conversation whenever he draws near so as not to rupture the illusion. That, my friends, is one well-planned lie.

I, for one, would have liked to see Tracy get hit with a bout of space madness.

I, for one, would have liked to see Tracy get hit with a bout of space madness.

Liz: Dennis shows up, claiming he’s a sex addict, spouting off such gems as:

“Former sex partner, I’m sorry that my disease made you a victim of my sexual charisma. I’m sorry that I’ve ruined sex with other men for you.”

Liz later finds out that Jenna also slept with Dennis, when she picks up Jenna’s cell phone (and does an excellent Jane Krakowski impersonation) while Jenna is preparing for her Peter Pan scene. The two women decide to band together and not let a douche like Dennis destroy their sisterhood, so they head off to stab Dennis/give him a piece of their mind. When they try to tell him off, Dennis decides to rank the two women, giving Jenna the number one spot over Liz. Angry at her friend over sleeping with a guy neither of them actually likes very much, Liz neglects to tell Jenna that her secure cable is not so secure and lets her fall and hurt her ankle — a real injury for once. To make it up to Jenna, Liz allows her to tell the writing staff about the commercial she did back in Chicago when she was still trying to make it as an actress.

That commercial is a commercial for the late night chat line 1-900-OKFACE, and when Jack catches a glimpse of it, he laughs so much that he vomits, which shall be henceforth known as “Jacking,” since laughing while you’re peeing is known as “Lizzing,” although she tries to pass it off as a combination as laughing and whizzing.

Or cashiers checks, for that matter.

Or cashier's checks, for that matter.

Other funny:

  • Tracy sees the world as though everyone in it is Tracy.
  • Kenneth is only worth $7 when Jack sees the world in money.
  • “That’s not even enough numbers!” — Frank, on Liz’s phone sex line
  • “What is this, horseville? Because I’m surrounded by naysayers!” — Tracy, so lame its hilarious
  • Jenna speaks with English inflections because she lost her virginity to the My Fair Lady soundtrack.

The Husband:

30 Rock also did perhaps the funniest thing since Moonvest screamed that he wanted Kenneth’s fingernails. When Kenneth looks up from his dressing room to see a Muppet version of Liz, we cut away to real life Liz in the hallway, walking just like a Muppet, head down and arms flapping wildly. It was the episode’s quickest throwaway gag, but it’s also a fucking gem. Now that’s attention to detail.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.20 “Witch Lady”

After a short break to make sure that Earl doesn’t end its season waaaaaay before it should, Earl comes back onto our Thursday night schedule to take on List Item #186: “Was Mean To The Crazy Witch Lady.”

But who is this crazy witch lady? Well, she’s played by Betty White (+1), her name unfortunately happens to be Griselda Weezmer (+1) and the entire neighborhood is afraid of her, resulting in teenage Earl setting her up to get arrested using altered green face cream and krazee glue in a truly inspired set-up (+3 for how hard I laughed at the end result). But could the entire town just be wrong about her, that she’s just a nice ol’ biddy who has been misunderstood for far too long? Earl goes to her house to apologize and find out the truth, only to be drugged by a batch of roofie tea and tied up in her basement. Seems she’s been suffering at the hands of the folks of Camden for far too long, and it’s time to take revenge on all those who done her wrong.

Somehow, I dont think shes going to tell me a story about growing up in Saint Olaf . . .

Somehow, I don't think she's going to tell me a story about growing up in Saint Olaf . . .

Soon, Randy is thrown into the basement — he once tried to melt her with a bucket of water — along with Kenny and his gay lover Stuart (Stuart once gave her a ticket for the graffiti somebody else did on her house), Joy (who’s been going at it with Darnell over how he can be such a nice person while she’s such a fucking bitch), Darnell (who just once accidentally said “Which lady?” too loudly in Mrs. Weezmer’s presence), Catalina (who tried to steal her tears) and finally Patricia the Hooker, who just happens to be Mrs. Weezmer’s daughter.

“Hookers have moms?!” — Randy

While all chained up in the basement together, each of the characters turn on each other, breaking down the reasons why, after receiving an ultimatum, another person should be the one person Mrs. Weezmer stabs to death.

“Oh no, we’re gonna die! And it’s gonna hurt!” — Randy

Earl, however, finds the lesson even amidst this terrible predicament, that perhaps they should not be so quick to label somebody and to get to know the person underneath a label, instead of calling each other sluts, dummies, hookers, the “gay guys” and, in the case of Earl, a “freakin’ karma zombie.” When Mrs. Weezmer comes down with a knife, Earl apologizes for all of them and hugs her, telling her that they’ve learned their lesson, only to be stabbed in the side. Patricia then knocks her mother out with a shoe, and Catalina jumps up for joy.

“Collect her tears! We can all live forever!” — Catalina

Mrs. Weezmer, now definitely and legally insane, is put in a home to get better, and everybody is a better person as a result of being drugged, kidnapped, and in Earl’s case, stabbed. Even Darnell learns to not always be such a nice guy to Joy, because she has so much trouble living up to somebody who she describes as “Jesus’ nicer brother.”

You know by now that I tend to appreciate the Earl episodes that utilize its ensemble well, so I don’t really have to repeat myself. And I also think Patricia the Hooker gets some of the show’s best lines, and wonder why they don’t use her more often.

Good show, Earl. Maybe the season’s final episodes can have another multi-ep arc? Please? I’m not asking for much.

The Office 5.18 “New Boss”

Finally, we have a replacement for Jan and Ryan, who lost their high-ranking positions due to, respectively, pregnancy/craziness and dugs, and who is that replacement? Why, it’s none other than the stellar Idris Elba, a.k.a. The Wire‘s Stringer Bell, the most badass business school student/drug lord of all time. (I forgive him his one foray into Tyler Perry territory, because Daddy’s Little Girls was waaaay before we realized that Perry was a complete joke.) This new boss, one Charles Minor, isn’t there to dick around, though, and almost immediately he puts down Jim’s pranks on Dwight (this time involving him dressing up in a suit, in a reaction to Dwight’s memo about a proper dress code, and judging everything Dwight says to be “unclassy”) and disbands the ever-working Party Planning Committee due to budget tightening. This last bit, especially, angers Michael, since the PPC has been hard at work putting together a party for Michael’s 15th anniversary with the company.

“He’s like a black George Clooney.” — Meredith (or was it Kelly? I look down to write way too often)

He really is like a black George Clooney.

He really is like a black George Clooney.

Michael immediately tries to reason with David back at Corporate, but to no avail. He’s just simply not getting the respect he deserves.

“To be honest, I think I thrive under a lack of accountability.” — Michael

Finally fed up, Michael drives three hours to New York to confront David face-to-face, and he pleads with him regarding his party, telling him all the sacrifices he has made for Dunder Mifflin. (These would include putting a family on hold, never hang-gliding and never driving her car to the top of Mount Washington.) When David, understanding Michael’s sadness, allows for the party to go through, and promising that he will show up in order to make Michael feel better, Michael realizes his true position at the company now that Minor has shown up, and ends the episode declaring that he quits.

That’s quite a way to set up the final episodes of the season, as Michael will go head-to-head with the powers that be and struggle to find his way in a non-Dunder Mifflin life, and all the shenanigans back at the Scranton branch will come to a screeching halt due to Minor’s interference. It seems the very essence of The Office is being challenged, and that’s definitely a tall order to deal with. It’s upping up the drama nicely, and this, combined with the promised reappearance of Amy Ryan’s Holly, can only mean good things for the remainder of the season.

And I still get a line as great as this:

“Mr. Peanut is not classy!” — Dwight

The Wife:

30 Rock 3.15 “The Bubble”

You know what was the saddest part of this episode? Watching Jon Hamm teeter away on that motorcycle, herking and jerking and crashing into parked cars. Not because my illusion of Dr. Drew (and Liz’s) was shattered, but because I won’t regularly get to see Jon Hamm again until Mad Men‘s third season premieres, whenever that may be. Boo to that.

It shouldnt have ended like this Jon Hamm, shattering the beautiful illusion that you were completely the perfect man.

It shouldn't have ended like this Jon Hamm, shattering the beautiful illusion that you were completely the perfect man.

Otherwise, this was a great sendoff for that character, as it turns out that Dr. Drew is so attractive that he lives in “The Bubble,” a special world in which people will do anything for him simply because he’s attractive. He gets compliments from strangers, has his parking tickets torn up, is regularly asked by Calvin Klein to walk in his fashion shows and can always order off-menu. He also somehow got to become a doctor simply by being attractive, because it wasn’t due to his smarts. He doesn’t even know the Heimlich maneuver. He also cooks with Gatorade, can’t draw and thinks he’s really good at tennis — unfortunately, he isn’t actually good at any of these things, but thinks he is because he’s been living in the bubble his whole life. Liz wants to tell him the truth, and eventually bursts Drew’s bubble. He really does not like being a regular person, however, and decides to speed away on that motorcycle he doesn’t know how to ride, safely back inside the bubble, a place Liz cannot join him.

Meanwhile, Tracy’s contract is almost up, and when Jack offers to renew it at his current rate, pointing out that Tracy really doesn’t need any more money, Tracy decides to quit. No one had ever pointed out to him that he doesn’t need to work for money anymore. Jack spends the rest of the episode trying to woo Tracy back, resorting to such tactics as having impersonators of black television icons call him and praise his work on the show. He makes the mistake, however, of having someone call as Bill Crosby, who apparently did something very untoward to one of Tracy’s aunts back in the early 90s and never called her again. Jack is forced to take over the wooing with his Billy Dee Williams impression. Unmoved, Tracy remains at home, devoting time to annoying the hell out of his children and trying to establish himself as a musician. Tracy Jr., who is oh so much more eloquent than his father, begs Jack to get Tracy back on TGS, claiming that Jack has turned Tracy Jr. and his siblings into just another set of black kids with an unemployed father.

“Are you trying to turn us into stereotypes?” — Tracy Jr.

Jack finds out that Kenneth has continued to do work for Tracy after his departure from TGS, so Jack asks Kenneth to cut Tracy off in order to lure him back. This is very hard for Kenneth, who pretends to be a different page, one with a Cockney accent, whenever Tracy calls in order to avoid contact. Without Kenneth, Tracy is completely lost.

“Family? Who’s in charge of my thirst?” — Tracy, saying a line that I am pretty sure came directly from Tina Fey’s baby Alice’s mouth:


Eventually, Tracy returns to NBC to ask Kenneth why he’s been avoiding him, and Kenneth apologizes to Tracy. With all this attention being paid to Tracy’s expiring contract and Jack’s attempts to woo him back to the show, Jenna comes up with a crazy publicity scheme in which she plans to cut her hair live on The Today Show for Merkins of Peace (Loves of Love wouldn’t take it because it was too processed), a scheme she quickly stops when Meredith Viera points out that, without Tracy, Jenna is the only star left on TGS. Jack decides to fire Kenneth, as there is no need for him to work at TGS with Tracy gone. Not wanting Kenneth to lose his job, Tracy decides to return to the show, making everyone happy, except for Jenna.

Other funny things:

  • Not giving a cutaway of Tracy’s crazy antics when Liz and Jack discuss them, instead choosing to let the two stars stare off in thought for a few seconds? Brilliant.
  • “Sorry it took me so long to answer — I was thinking about how weird it is that we eat birds.” — Tracy
  • Kenneth’s inability to not talk like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel when he gets upset and the transition from smooth Kenneth to unable-to-talk Kenneth.