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:

The Office 5.17 “Golden Ticket”

The Office jumps back into its roots and deals almost exclusively with the business aspect of the show this week. In order to spark added interest in Dunder Mifflin’s relations with their clients, Michael decides to go all Willy Wonka – purple hat and jacket included – and puts five Golden Tickets in five random warehouse boxes of paper, which would in turn give the receiver of said Golden Ticket 10% off their paper orders for an entire year.

But this is The Office, and rarely do things go smoothly. When Michael hears that a client has found not one Golden Ticket, but all five, and since it’s their biggest client, the Blue Cross of Pennsylvania, this 50% off discount could get the Scranton branch shut down forever.

(How did this happen? Well, Michael chose boxes that were far to close to each other, and when told that the Blue Cross uses a lot of paper and that Darryl sends them three pallets of paper every week, Michael asks what a “pallet” is.)

Hoping to ease the blame off of himself, Michael holds a meeting to figure out how to solve this crisis and not get fired, but Jim, especially, is not willing to take the fall, because Blue Cross was his client and he just lost a whole bunch of commission via Michael’s shenanigans.

“Well, I didn’t buy a house to impress Pam. That’s what carnations are for.” — Michael

Not willing to fess up to his wrongdoing, Michael decides to convince Dwight that it was his idea all along, something that he finds especially difficult when Dwight declares that he was never allowed to have candy as a child, or watch movies. But Michael starts getting through to Dwight, saying that if he falls on his sword – something Dwight has actually done quite literally – he might be able to have a better life, free from the cooped-up confines of Dunder Mifflin.

“Michael: You can’t put a price on freedom.

Dwight: Try me.”

In a twist uncharacteristic for The Office, however, things start to look up again when David from Corporate comes to the Scranton branch to congratulate Dwight on his fabulous idea. It seems that the Blue Cross was so inspired by the Golden Ticket discount that they have decided to make Dunder Mifflin their sole provider for office supplies.

“David: This is huge!

Dwight: That’s what she said.

Enraged that Dwight is now getting all the praise and attention, and that a staff angry at his behavior is going along with Dwight being the victor, Michael finally fesses up to David, who is, as usual, so perplexed by Michael’s business tactics and immature conduct that he leaves Scranton, speechless.

I think this is one of the better, if more old-fashioned, episodes of The Office for few months now. Instead of saddling Jim and Pam with some lame B-story (see my review of last week’s episode for further complaining), the writers simply decided to let them take a backseat to all the DM madness. And picking up where they left off with the blood drive, the writers throw us a miniature treat when Kevin finally musters up the courage to ask a fellow building employee out. It’s not a huge storyline by any means, but it was nice all the same.

And I couldn’t fit this in anywhere in the review, but my favorite line of the episode was in the cold opening, when Michael makes a very horrible prop comedy knock-knock joke.

“There’s…there’s butter on my desk.” – Pam

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.18: “Home”

Man, I really hope that Kath’s house burning down in a fire means this series is done. Her addiction to faux finish (which can make your kitchen look like it’s The Olive Garden) in her pursuit to get her tackified domicile into the Parade of Homes ultimately caused the place to burn down after a spark from Athena Scooberman’s blessing sage lit up the faux-brick countertops and, subsequently, the whole damn place.

I am surprised Kath herself didn’t catch on fire given all the synthetic materials she wears. (Not to say that organic materials don’t catch fire, simply that synthetics are more flammable. Ever looked at the warning label on something made out of acetate?) This plot? Not at all funny, but I did appreciate a nice visual joke where Kath shows the Parade of Homes gays how she styled her staircase while wearing an outfit that matches the wallpaper with trim that matches the leopard carpet. Tack to the max, and cheeky, too.

Meanwhile, Kim is distraught that Craig “forgot” the anniversary of their second date, but Craig is only playing like he forgot so he can surprise her with some “high-end” mismatched earrings. Derek advises Craig to act cold in order to make Kim come crawling back to him, while Tina advises Kim to tease Craig so that he’ll want to come back to her. Tina’s plan? Get tickets to a Slick Rick concert that would require them to spend the night together in a motel in “Tamps.” Craig manages to refuse this, which drives Kim crazy when she realizes that he’s not going to be around to do things for her and she comes crawling back to him in tears. Craig calls Derek for advice on whether or not to take Kim back, but all Derek wants to do is read Twilight. So Kim and Craig get back together and plan to move in to Kath’s house . . . until it burns up and everyone moves into Craig’s apartment.

Honestly, when the funniest thing in an episode is a masculine character reading Twilight, there’s not much hope. Please don’t renew this show, NBC. Please don’t. I want nothing but the best for Parks & Recreation so this doesn’t have to come back.

30 Rock 3.14: “The Funcooker”

This was certainly one of 30 Rock’s wackiest episodes, although perhaps not the kind of consistently funny wackiness that I really love about the show. There’s no such thing as a bad episode of 30 Rock, I just laughed at this one a little less than others.

Fire . . . pretty . . .

Fire . . . pretty . . .

A visit to The Container Store makes Liz want to change her life, until she gets hit by a bike and realizes that her day has quickly become the worst day ever. For one thing, Jenna and Tracy are in trouble for ruining the broadcast of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Jenna passed out during the broadcast and then Tracy uttered an FCC-finable word, so Jack puts Liz in charge of finding a way to fix her stars’ behavioral problems. On top of that, Cerie was a little too proactive about doing things around the office when she should have been buying Liz ProActiv, so Liz gets sent to jury duty because Cerie updated her voter registration.

Armed with her Princess Leia costume, Liz heads off to New York Jury Duty, promising her staff she’ll be back in a couple of hours, only to find out that New York Jury Duty is full of weirdoes and her patented get-out-of-jury-duty plan fails. While she’s gone, she leaves no one in charge of the writing staff, leaving Jack to solicit their help in renaming his pet project, the pocket microwave. It seems that its original name, the bitNuker, is offensive to people of Dutch or French descent, such as staff-writer-I’ve-never-seen-before Miss LaRuche-Vandenhoot. Realizing she’s going to be gone far longer than she planned, Liz calls Kenneth and puts him in charge. His first order of business? Sending all menstruating women home. Hilarious.

Meanwhile, Tracy realizes that his FCC fine is only $50K, which is completely insignificant to him because his porno video game has made him richer than God. This proves to Tracy that having money means he can do whatever he wants, and so he goes on a spree of lewd behavior and FCC fine-collecting in Liz’s absence.

Jenna visits good ol’ Dr. Spaceman to find out if there’s any way she can do her Janie Jimplin movie and TGS at the same time. He tells her it’s absolutely possible to burn the candle at both ends with an experimental pill that means she’ll never have to sleep, ever. These pills, by the way, make her completely hyper and even more insane than she already is.

When Liz returns from her first day at Jury Duty, she finds her staff in Jack’s office, creating unusable bitNuker replacement names and Kenneth removing the ordinance he made against employees wearing beards or mustaches. Jack informs her of Tracy’s FCC rampage and asks her to corral him because advertisers are pulling their ads, and without ads, there’s no TGS. Liz pleads with Tracy to stop collecting FCC fines and apologize because his actions could hurt the whole crew. Thinking like a crazy genius, Tracy decides to do the show with only one advertiser: himself. If he buys all the ad space, the show can keep going no matter what he does on the air.

Back at Jury Duty, Liz begins to recognize herself in the crazy woman on trial for arson, who burned down her workplace because her employees didn’t respect her, especially the ones named Tracy and Jenna. After the trail as the woman is hauled off to jail, she taunts Liz: “I’m free! This man opens doors for me! I’m freer than you!”

Meanwhile, all of the writing staff’s ideas for portably microwave names get rejected by legal (including my favorite: PortaHottie), so Jack resorts to creating random names with Scrabble tiles, which proves to be less fruitful than he had hoped, drawing first VAG, then NI and then, in one fell swoop, HITLER. I will never use Scrabble as a naming oracle, ever again. Kenneth saves the day by suggesting “The Funcooker” as a product name.

Jenna’s experiences on the anti-sleep pill have been going well, if not completely wacky. She’s clawing and licking windows on the Janie Jimplin set, regardless of what the lines suggest she do, and still has enough energy to don her bear suit for The Bear & Robot Talk Show sketch. But when Dr. Spaceman’s rodent test subject dies, he realizes he needs to save Jenna. He frantically runs onto the set during filming and starts accosting the bear, screaming, “Sleep, Jenna! Sleep or die!” while banging her head on a prop table and smacking her with a chair in a display of brutally macabre and hilarious violence. The icing on the crazy cake here is Tracy dropping trou on live TV and declaring that America see his “funcooker.”

After that disaster, Liz seriously considers burning down her office and then thinks better of it, but accidentally lights her door on fire when she casts off the match. This incident of arson is enough to make the whole TGS staff kiss her ass because they now fear her. Jack gives her the now defunct Funcooker and suggests she go home, take a long shower and microwave some ham.

I would recommend not doing both of those things simultaneously in the same location.

Funny bits:

  • “Synonym’s just another word for the word you wanna use.” – Jenna-as-Janis, officially creating the best School House Rock version of “Me and Bobby McGee” ever.
  • “The pocket microwave? . . . It has a ham button! You used my idea!” – Liz

My Name Is Earl 4.19 “Chaz Dalton Space Academy”

I could tell you that this nice and sweet but ultimately static episode of My Name Is Earl was set around a local Space Academy, one that Earl and Randy once patronized as children until Earl got a hold of a space hero’s spacesuit and accidentally shrunk it in the dryer. I could tell you that when he goes back to the Space Academy to make up for his wrongdoing, he finds out that the man he thought was Chaz Dalton, the famous astronaut, was a fake named Wayne. I could tell you that he tracks down the real Chaz (Curtis Armstrong from Revenge Of The Nerds and American Dad), only to find that he’s a drunk and only went to space because his father had a lot of money, and that he ruined the mission he was on with all of his phobias and anxieties and forced them all to come home when he threatened to kill himself. And I could tell you that Earl realizes that continuing to perpetuate the fraud that handsome, non-drunk Wayne is actually Chaz Dalton, is the best thing for the impressionable children of Camden, which in turn inspires the real Chaz to shape up, set to the second use in one week to the tune of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” (the other being Life On Mars).

I think its gonna be a long, long time.

I think it's gonna be a long, long time.

But, honestly, I just wanted an excuse to post the opening credits to the 1977 television cheese fest known as Space Academy, a fifteen-episode Saturday morning kid’s show that I watched on DVD a couple months back. Enjoy.

Okay, I can at least give you some good quotes from this episode:

  • “Earl, why are you so gay for space?” – Joy
  • “Nobody likes a black nerd, Darnell.” – Joy
  • “I can’t believe you did that. You put the ‘ass’ in ‘astronaut.’” – Earl

The Office 5.16 “Blood Drive”

I’m not usually one to say this, but I’ve become very worried about the show’s handling of Jim and Pam. Yes, they’ve continued to be treated like a real-life couple, with relatable sweetness, half-assed cutesy bickering and uncomfortably familiar growing pains (with Jim buying his parents’ house being a particularly awkward moment), but the actual stories they’ve been given in any number of episodes have been almost completely worthless. This week, they were shunned from the office of Dunder Mifflin – as Michael was throwing a Valentine’s Day singles mixer in order to find the cute girl he met during the blood drive, only to lose her when he passed out from lack of blood flow – and instead headed out to have a long lunch with Phyllis and Bob Vance, where they talked about absolutely nothing that could advance the plot, and then waited and stared at their food while Phyllis and Bob Vance banged one out in the restaurant’s handicap bathroom.

That’s it. That was their entire story. Jim, the true hero of The Office, has been relegated with Pam to be merely the show’s romantic relief in episodes such as these, and it just seems wasteful. I know that they will be setting a date soon, and that date will not come around until next season allegedly, and that throwing yet another man in the mix (much like Roy and that Mad Men fellow back at the arts college) would seem unrealistic, but can the writers at least give me something? I’d rather Jim and Pam not even be in the episode than given something like the restaurant sequence, which was unfunny and pointless.

Okay, Michael’s story was kind of nice, because even though he never ended up finding the blood drive girl, his concept of romance has matured ever since Holly first came into his life. We’re gearing up for a very good season finale with his story, methinks.

Some other funny stuff:

  • “It’s so sexy, it becomes hostile.” – Dwight to Jim
  • “I can retract my penis up into itself.” – Dwight
  • Turns out Angela has had another set of men duel over her. I guess it’s just a thing.
  • “You’re not allowing natural selection to do its work, like the guy who invented the seatbelt.” – Dwight on the concept of a singles mixer
  • Creed stealing blood during the outro, which garnered the episode’s biggest laugh.

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.17 “Bachelorette”

As the end of Kath & Kim draws near – and it will end next week with, I’m sure, Kath and Phil’s wedding spec-tack-ular – Kim does something sort of selfless and throws her mom a bachelorette party, only to end up missing their intended Cher concert altogether when Athena Scooberman makes the attendees do shots of some tea laced with hallucinogens. The good news? Kath totally doesn’t know she missed the concert, especially when the ladies see a Cher drag queen at their favorite gay bar later in the night. Oddly, not even Melissa Rauch and Maya Rudolph could make the scenes of the women tripping balls in a limo/pet store funny. Too bad.

With the girls gone, Craig and Derek attend Phil’s bachelor party and are shocked to find that Phil and his friends have an idea of fun that consists of playing “name that ingredient” and talking about cheese and expensive wines, which furthers Derek’s hypothesis that Phil is gay. Granted, Phil’s bachelor party is all kinds of lame as far as bachelor parties are concerned, and his friends are indeed very tame and reserved people, but, clearly, ya’ll, liking wine and food that comes from a place other than a drive-thru does not make a man gay. Nonetheless, this line was hilarious:


“Tarragon, you mysterious bitch.” – Phil


Derek tells Phil that he thinks he’s gay and offers to purchase a stripper for the evening to liven up the party. When she arrives, Phil and his friends are not so keen to see her strip without getting to know her first, so, instead, they spend the entire hour chatting with her, offering her dinner and sending her off to her next engagement with a slice of the tart they made. In one final attempt to make Phil have traditional bachelor party fun, Derek and Craig drag him out to a strip club, where they find that they can no longer enjoy objectifying women because Phil taught them to see the strippers are people.

Phil gets a drunk dial from Kath asking to call off the wedding, explaining sudden reluctance to Kim’s decision to move in with Tina (her bachelorette gift to her mom), so Phil and the boys storm out to find her, but not without giving encouraging advice to the strippers on their way out. (“Aurora, good luck on that LSAT!”) They eventually find Kath, passed out above the doorway to Maneater’s, with no recollection of making that drunk dial. She and Phil get into a giant calling-off-the-wedding fight in which each tries to out-call-off the other, until Kim steps in and reminds them both that Kath didn’t really mean it. Way to save the day, Kim.

All I remember is that nice raccoon . . .

All I remember is that nice raccoon . . .


It can’t be a good thing when a female-led comedy doesn’t give anything funny to its female stars who are, in fact, very funny people. The stuff that works better on this show is the Craig and Phil stuff, a good 80% of the time. And even then, their stuff isn’t that funny. I found the bachelor party storyline much more entertaining than the bachelorette party storyline. And that makes me wonder about the nature of women in comedy in general. And why it’s funny for men to be naked but objectifying for women to be naked, a discussion that’s flared up again thanks to Vanity Fair‘s parody of its famous Tom Ford-Kiera Knightly-Scarlett Johannson cover by Judd Apatow’s leading men. I’d talk more about that, but it really doesn’t make sense to me to think deeply about anything in relationship to Kath & Kim.

30 Rock 3.13 “Goodbye, My Friend”

Man, what a jam-packed episode of 30 Rock, featuring a storyline for absolutely everyone, as well as the terrifying image of Judah Friedlander NOT LOOKING LIKE HIMSELF AT ALL.

WHAT THE FUCK, MAN?

WHAT THE FUCK, MAN?

For Liz, her baby mania gets the best of her with she and Pete make a late night donut run and she spies a young pregnant girl behind the counter with adoption brochures. Desperate to convince this young girl, Becca, to give Liz her baby, she sits down with her and tries to become her friend. Becca decides Liz is cool because she vaguely knows who Ne-Yo is and understands how hard it is to be broken up with on various forms of technology, which I suspect is either a slight dig at He’s Just Not That Into You or Liz trying to remember something she saw in the trailer from that film. In an effort to further ingratiate herself to the pregnant girl, Liz brings Becca on staff as a “youth consultant” and tries to push the girl into giving up her baby so she can pursue her career in terrible, psuedo-angsty girl rock about rainbows and cobwebs.

Meanwhile, Jack is trying to stay away from corporate and personal seduction while Elisa is in Puerto Rico in order to prove himself to her, so he decides to spend his Friday night bonding with the writing staff. At their lowbrow dinner, the men all bond over their fatherlessness and discuss the kind of disappointments they are to their families. In solidarity, Jack invites them over to his place to watch Harry and the Hendersons, bonding further over the scene where John Lithgow’s Henderson patriarch forces Harry back into the wilderness, the place he always belonged. During their bonding time, Frank reveals that he used to go to law school because every man in his family is a lawyer, so Jack offers to give him back that dream. Thus, Frank sheds his Frank garb and turns into Corporate Judah Friedlander, which is basically the most frightening image I’ve ever seen.

As for Jenna, her birthday is soon approaching and she’s feeling neglected, falling into her usual attention-seeking routines. Kenneth assures her that they’re planning a great party for her, but then he finds out that Tracy doesn’t have a birthday, a result of being born in Yankee Stadium and passed around through foster care his whole life. Kenneth wants to give him a birthday, so he makes Jenna share hers with Tracy. She is not pleased.

“My heart goes out to all the inner city kids, especially those too fat to dance their way out.” – Jenna

Even though she’s sharing her party with Tracy, Jenna still believes that she will get all the attention because its her actual birthday. She lets Tracy enter first, psyching herself up that he’s just the opening act and she’ll get more applause, but then Frank steals her thunder by entering and announcing he’s leaving to go back to law school, followed by a further interruption of Cerie, wearing Jenna’s dress that she asked no one else wear for her party, announcing that her father bought everyone exclusive event tickets. Enraged, Jenna abandons her party altogether and goes back to seeking attention through feigning family deaths and personal injury. Kenneth notices Tracy is despondent after the party:

“What’s the matter, Mr. Jordan? I know you only make cheese friends when something’s bothering you.”

Tracy explains that he’s upset because his birthday was over and his wish hadn’t come true yet. Jenna wheels herself in and Kenneth asks her to help narrow down what Tracy’s wish might have been so they can help make it come true. Collectively, he, Grizz and DotCom narrowed it down to owning a Robocop, hunting the elephant that paints or breakfast in bed. Frustrated by all the attention Tracy’s getting, Jenna breaks out of her back brace and wheelchair and announces that she’s done seeking attention because no one notices her anyway. Tracy sees this and announces that his birthday wish came true, after all. He was going to wish for all of the things Kenneth mentioned, but then he saw Jenna enter her party in her back brace and wished that she’d get well instead. Awwwwww . . .

Jack has dinner with Frank’s mom, Patti LuPone (why the hell not?), and she reveals that she was glad her son became a loser comedy writer because all the other Rossitano men, including Frank’s father, were lawyers for the mob and they were all either dead or in hiding, which is exactly why Frank’s dad is hiding out in Phoenix. She instructs Jack to fix this and derail her son from the law school path, which he later does by reenacting that final scene from Harry and the Hendersons, pushing Frank to go back to the wilderness of the writer’s room.

Pete encourages Liz to get Becca back together with her loser boyfriend, Tim, but when Tim shows up at 30 Rock unannounced, she’s ready to make him quietly go away until she runs into John Lithgow in the elevator. The mere presence of the man is a sign for her.

Liz: Oh, fine, Lithgow! I’ll do the right thing!
Lithgow: I guess someone’s been watching The World According to Garp.


Liz tells Tim that he needs to get back together with Becca and raise his baby by pointing out Jack and Frank, telling the boy that both of those men are horribly fucked up because of the lack of a father in their lives. Becca and Tim come together in song, that same terrible one about rainbows and cobwebs.

Oddly, I think this is also the same emotion Lithgow experienced when Sweet Smell of Success closed on Broadway.

Oddly, I think this is also the same emotion Lithgow experienced when Sweet Smell of Success closed on Broadway.

As Liz and Jack recap their days and their experiences trying to become surrogate parents (“In a way, we both lost children today.” “Yeah, except mine was real. Yours was Frank.”), Lithgow wanders in, desperately trying to get out of the building:


“Can someone tell me how to get out of this building? It’s like a maze! I keep walking past the same Sbarros!”


Although the C-story with Tracy and Jenna was kind of throw away, I really liked the Jack and Liz stories this week. Patti LuPone was really funny in her cameo as Frank’s crazy Italian mother, and I even liked the abuse of John Lithgow, who is always really good when confused and befuddled, an opinion I developed as a fan of Third Rock from the Sun. I hope to never, ever, ever see Judah Friedlander cleaned up again. Like Harry, he belongs in the wild.

Other funny things:

  • “In Gaelic, Donaghey means ‘dung basket.'” – Jack
  • Frank’s hat this week: “Incompl te”
  • “I’m the one who’s been here for Becca for almost two days! This Tim guy is all washed!” – Liz
  • Patti LuPone’s art therapy painting:
It's Rose's turn, ya'll.

It's Rose's turn, ya'll.

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.16: “Desire”

Kim really wants to throw a lingerie party as a way to make a little money and not be so bored, but Craig refuses to bankroll it, ending their date abruptly and therefore ruining Kath and Phil’s sexy naked time. Fed up with her daughter’s continual interruption of her sex life, Kath chases Kim out of the house and starts a scene with Craig, which gathers all the neighbors to watch. Honestly, I can’t believe more of the neighbors haven’t noticed these wacky tacky people before.

Afterward, Kath and Phil decide that they need to help repair Kim and Craig’s relationship. Kath agrees to bankroll Kim’s lingerie party and help her with the preparations (which basically amounts to Kath doing everything), while Phil suggests to Craig that he start acting like a responsible adult and wear dressy slacks and man jewelry. Kath and Kim have a great time at the lingerie party, until Craig and Phil bust in, dressed entirely alike. Craig tries to win Kim back by being like Phil, which is disturbing on so many levels.

Craig: I’m acting like an attractive adult male.

Kim: That’s lame.

They get in yet another fight and totally ruin the lingerie party. None of this was funny, and the lingerie party was basically just an excuse to get Selma Blair and Molly Shannon into skimpy outfits so they could show off their nice legs while acting like idiots. I’d have liked the Kath and Phil try to get Kim and Craig back together plot if it hadn’t converged in such an odd way.

At least Selma is, as always, giving her all.

At least Selma is, as always, giving her all.

Oh, well! Only one more of these left!

30 Rock 3.12: “Larry King”

I have never found Larry King to be as amusing as he was in this episode. Well, unless it’s Conan O’Brien making joke after joke about how freakin’ old the dude is. His appearance on 30 Rock comes as a show-within-a-show where Tracy Jordan, the worst person in the world to feature on Larry King Live, appears on that show to promote TGS.

Meanwhile, Jack hasn’t yet had sex with Elisa and he worries about where the ‘Jalisa’ relationship is going if they haven’t consummated their love and she heads off to Puerto Rico for a week to see her family. Liz boasts that she has officially had sex two more times than Jack in 2009, but loses her cell phone in a cab, setting her out on a trek to Queens to retrieve it from a cabby who wishes to extort money from her simply for knowing Tracy Jordan. When Jack hears that the Asian markets have crashed, he abandons Elisa, fearing that the end of capitalism is near. And as he returns to 30 Rock, Liz ropes Kenneth into escorting her to Queens by pretending she’s his friend.

While Tracy is on Larry King, they get news of the Asian market crash and King starts grilling Tracy on his opinions about the financial future of America. Tracy announces that he’s hidden some of his bajillions at work and the entire writing staff vows to find it. He also gives out such choice fear-mongering advice as:

“At midnight, your Lexus is going to turn back into a hot pile of rats fighting over a finger.”

As they walk through the streets of Queens, to a place where the subway no longer goes, Kenneth and Liz see the panic of the Asian market crash all around them. Kenneth isn’t sure its safe, but Liz tells him that he needs to go on with her because there’s something very important on her phone, a recording of a lullaby her nana just to sing to her, to the tune of “99 Luftballons” by Nena, rather than the actual nude photo of herself that Liz does not want the person holding her phone hostage to send to the whole office. Kenneth figures out that Liz has been lying to him and that they aren’t, in fact, friends and storms off, as if he is acting not as a friend, then he is acting in the capacity of an NBC page, and his insurance does not cover trips to Queens.

Angry that he left her to work on the night that they consummate their love, Elisa tells Jack that she’s leaving him and going to Puerto Rico. He then finds Don Geiss’ final message in the event of an emergency, which, recorded in 1981, warns everyone to “avoid the Noid” and to go to their loved ones. Realizing his error, he races out into the streets to find her and catches her just in time, as the economy is so bad a cab to the airport costs $800. He apologizes and asks her to marry him. She agrees, but:

“I want a ring so big it gives me back problems.”

Give us the money, Lebowski!

Give us the money, Lebowski!

The writing staff keep calling into Larry King, with Tracy mistaking Pete for Peter Frampton, desperately trying to find Tracy’s money. Tracy gives Pete enigmatic clues that about how it’s in the safest place in 30 Rock and, although its always moving, it stays in the same place.

“If you’re just joining us, we’re with Tracy Jordan, who’s giving guitar icon Peter Frampton enigmatic clues about a secret treasure.”

Liz meets with her phonenapper, but doesn’t have the phone ransom, until Kenneth arrives, hears Tracy’s clues broadcast over Larry King and realizes he is the safest place in 30 Rock, peeling open his jacket lining to reveal lots of moneys. He gives the phonenapper two grand and gets Liz her phone back. She apologizes and tells him that he’s her friend.

The next day, the panic about the Asian markets is revealed to be all for naught and that the American economy is just fine. Tracy gets blamed for all the hoopla and Elisa decides to leave for Puerto Rico anyway, telling Jack that she knows he only asked her to marry him out of panic. She does, however, give Jack and America a parting close-up of her boobs as she struggles to turn off the camera during her recorded message. A lovely parting gift.

I totally dug this episode. Full of insanity, complex story threads and some of the best things I’ve ever heard come out of Larry King’s mouth.

Two extra funny lines:

  • “Everything’s gone cocoa for cuckoopoops – is that right?” – Elisa
  • “Tracy Jordan, saying three serious things and then a joke.” – Larry King

The Wife:

30 Rock 3.8 “Flu Shot”

“Oh no! I must have Ox Fever!” – Kenneth

The flu is going around 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the cast and the crew of TGS are all falling ill. Because of short staffing, Liz’s vacation to St. Bartleby’s (where she likes to read magazines in old-fashioned swimwear and black socks) gets canceled. Jack fears that the unionized crew members will get the more elite members of TGS sick, so he has reserved their limited number of flu shots for a select few, including himself and Liz Lemon.

Liz refuses to take the flu shot, however, feeling that it is unfair of Jack to ration them off. She becomes a hero to the crew, a sort of Norma Rae figure in their quest to get better healthcare. Kenneth, meanwhile, thinks that he’s dying and demands the traditional burial of a Parcell man, which involves being wrapped in the Confederate flag, fried and fed to dogs. As the only Page not currently out with the flu, Kenneth feels its his duty to not leave his post, therefore he can’t go out to get soup for the crew when flu-shot imbued Tracy and Jenna decide that they want to do something nice for the people who are working so hard while they’re all deathly ill.

Tracy and Jenna return, of course, from their soup outing without soup. They got bored and ended up going shopping instead, because every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man. In gratitude to Liz for sticking by them, the crew buys Liz a meat plate, which she realizes she cannot eat because Cerie managed to get her vacation back on and now Liz will do anything she can to not get sick. After refusing the meat plate, she fearfully wanders through the halls of 30 Rock, as flu-ridden zombie crew people (and zombie Kenneth) lumber after her while she sneaks off to beg Dr. Chris Parnell for the last flu shot. I love seeing Chris Parnell, anywhere. And I’m glad he made Liz Lemon dance for that flu shot. Anytime Liz has to dance is guaranteed to be funny.

HE MADE ME WAAAAAAAAAATCH!

HE MADE ME WAAAAAAAAAATCH!


Meanwhile, safe from the flu-filled halls of 30 Rock, Jack continues his budding romance with Elisa, his mother’s Puerto Rican nurse. He thinks she works too much, unhappy that the only way he gets to see her is when she sneaks him in when she watches her other patients in their homes at night. He begs her to go out, and she compromises by bringing her disabled, dementia-addled charge with them on a variety of dates. Eventually, the patient’s son nearly catches them together, noticing, perhaps, that Elisa’s nurses uniform is suddenly a boob-boosting cocktail dress. As Jack sneaks out, Mr. Templeton suddenly reveals to his son everything that he witnessed on Jack and Elisa’s dates in a hilarious stream-of-consciousness monologue.


“He made me watch a giraffe with the legs of a man!”


That quote was my favorite part of the monologue, but the whole thing together was priceless.

Back at TGS, Liz has to cover up her flu shot injection site so that no one will see the unmistakable flu shot rash. Kenneth notices it, but Liz tells him that he’s hallucinating:


“No, no. You’re having a fever dream. We’re speaking French. And I’m your mother.”


Tracy and Jenna, meanwhile, decide to make up for the soup failure by giving the crew laughter, the only medicine better than medicine. They dress up as the most terrifying clowns I have ever seen and expose Liz’s flu shot secret to the crew by tossing a pie in her face, which forces her to remove her rash-covering sweater. The crew immediately turns on her and starts hating her again, including Kenneth, who is still speaking French because he thinks he’s in a dream, screaming:


“Je deteste!”

30 Rock 3.9 “Retreat to Move Forward”

Jack wants Liz to be his buddy for a corporate retreat, which Liz remembers performing at a few of back when she and Jenna were on an improv troupe together. (I can’t tell if an improv troupe would be improved or not by the presence of Jenna Moroney, considering her response to Liz’s Sling Blade impression in their “Sling Blade and Oprah go on a date” scene was, “You sure do, Oprah!”) Liz thinks of these retreats like going to summer camp, and she agrees to be Jack’s camp friend, knowing that he needs moral support because he can’t go alone to a place where he needs to psych himself up with a speech that includes a variety of corporate ad slogans. (“Just do it. Is it in you? I’m lovin’ it!”) Only, Jack’s corporate retreats are not at all about team building and fun like camp. They’re weird. Like, I can’t even describe exactly what goes on there. That’s how weird they are. Somewhere between the Dharma Initiative and a Scientology meeting, people at the meeting are concerned with what “levels” they’re at (things like Js and Gs and Hs and a variety of other alphanumeric combinations) and only address each other formally. It’s also filled with intentionally confusing acronyms, where lunch is an activity but CLASS is Consuming Lunch and Simple Socializing. Eventually, as they participate in team building activities together that are altogether too strange to describe accurately, Liz becomes totally jazzed about the Retreat to Move Forward, screaming at Jack to finish things faster and communicate better in order to facilitate that, culminating in a cute little Glengarry Glen Ross joke: “Always be talking, Jack! Always be talking!” (Alec Baldwin’s monologue, written just for him, in the film purports that the ABCs of sales are simply “Always Be Closing.” Watch it if you haven’t seen it. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.) She also screams something about a robot penis that I didn’t quite catch but laughed at anyway.

When Liz comes to greet Jack on the second day of the convention with omelettes from the omelette bar (which, by the way, she suggests that he goes to get, because her two plates are for her, goddamnit), Jack tells her that she’s embarrassing him with her enthusiasm and informality. That’s just not how the retreat to move forward works. In a snit, Liz declares that her friendship with Jack is over. She spends the rest of the day sulking, hanging out with a couple of lower level retreat partners who openly make out at their convention table. Jack asks Liz to sit at his table, but she refuses. He then gets miked up for the speech he’s about to give and she realizes his mike is on just as he heads to the bathroom to give his psych up speech. Liz tries to stop him, but arrives too late. The whole room heard him pump himself up. She tells him the bad news, but, as a friend, goes out to do her best to take the blow for Jack’s embarrassment. She grabs the mic on stage, does some bad improv (including her Sling Blade impression) and tells everyone that she was impersonating Jack Donaghey attempting to psych himself up. The crowd isn’t buying it, so she pulls out a last-ditch move by ripping open her shit and dancing around while singing “Everybody Dance Now.” Jack cannot believe that Liz would do something like that for him, to which she replies that’s what friends are for. He then informs her that she’s banned from all future retreats.

Jenna, souped up for her role in a Janis Joplin/Janet Jopler biopic, announces to the writing staff that she will be employing the “method” method of acting and will be in character from this point forward. Frank decides to fuck with her by telling her to do her research on Wikipedia, because people are discovering new things about Janis Joplin everyday. Frank and the writing staff have oodles of fun using Wikipedia to convince Jenna to do things like speedwalk in leg braces and chug bottles of tequila. Frank realizes it’s getting out of hand, though, when he catches Jenna about to chow down on a cat.

If Janis did it, you can do it, Jenna!

If Janis did it, you can do it, Jenna!

He comes clean and tells her that they tricked her, but assures her that her unbridled rage at something like this will make her a shoe-in to win an Oscar if she can bring that fire to her Janis Joplin role. Stroking Jenna’s ego, of course, is incredibly hot to her, and she and Frank end up hooking up. The next day, Jenna tells Frank that she’s just going to be cool about their hookup and not tell anyone, and asks the same of Frank. He earnestly begs her to also be cool and not tell anyone, which confuses and infuriates her. (“You are the one who cool should be!”) Frank warns her that he has a lot of people in the building that he wouldn’t want to hear about him and Jenna. When she walks in on him the next day telling a story, she expects to hear her name as the cool thing he did last night, but is even more furious to hear that the story is about videogames. She freaks out and tells the whole crew that they slept together.


Dr. Chris Parnell, meanwhile, tells Tracy that he might soon develop diabetes, or The Sugarbetes, as I like to call it. He might lose his foot, but could replace it with a wheel – à la Rosie from The Jetsons – if he wanted to register himself as a moto-vehicle. As a result of this news, Tracy starts rolling around the office on a wheel. Kenneth asks him why he’s doing this, and hears he might develop diabetes. Worried for Tracy’s health, Kenneth starts trying to get him to eat better, slapping sugar candies out of his hand. Tracy tells Kenneth that the link between diet and diabetes is a white myth, like Larry Bird, and Colorado, thus many African Americans continue to eat whatever they want even when threatened with the Sugarbetes. Unable to fight the power of the white myth, Kenneth tries to get Tracy to improve his diet by telling him stories about the Hill Witch, who eats children who won’t eat the vegetables. This does not stop Tracy. Kenneth even tries dressing up as the Hill Witch, but to no avail. Jenna bursts into the room, fresh from an encounter with her hair colorist, who turns out to be one of the many women in the building who get it on with Frank, sabotages Jenna by overbleaching her hair, causing Jenna to run around the building screaming like a banshee, terrifying both Kenneth and Tracy.

I’m glad Tracy and Jenna got larger plot lines this week, especially one that involved both the writing staff (who go underused at times) and Chris Parnell. I actually liked these plots better than the A-story with Liz and Jack this week, so props to 30 Rock for giving it up for the supporting characters.

The Husband:

Behold, our first joint post for NBC’s Thursday night comedy block, now with four separate shows!

My Name Is Earl 4.8 “Little Bad Voodoo Brother”

It’s Halloween, so Earl decides to take on list item #94: “Ruined Dodge and Earl Jr.’s Halloween.” The only way to make this up to his kids, Joy convinces him, is to throw a big Halloween bash at the trailer park for his children and all those townsfolk who were roped into doing a search party to find them years earlier. Earl is happy to abide, but then decides to rope in another list item: “Cost Randy a little brother.”

How would Earl have even done such a thing?

“Dad made mom get fixed after he caught Earl playing a game of ‘watch Randy in the washing machine.’ I swallowed a lot of bleach. That’s why I can’t taste salt.” — Randy

Trying to do the right thing, Earl brings Randy to the local chapter of Big Bros & Little Bros, but Randy fails to qualify in order to take care of a poor Little Bro. Earl tries to tell him otherwise, but Randy sees right through his façade.

“You’re talking in your high-pitched lying voice!” — Randy

Suddenly, Catalina has an idea for how Earl can cross this off his list: she has a cousin who had been shipped to America, one boy by the name of O-Scar (“like ‘Oscar’ but with an ‘O'”), and would be fine if Randy looked after him for a while in order to be a good male role model for the child.

Actually, this shirt is really not a bad costume idea.

Actually, this shirt is really not a bad costume idea.

Unfortunately, this tiny immigrant child doesn’t like being told what to do, and when Randy scolds him for stealing tips off the tables at the Crab Shack, O-Scar begins performing voodoo in order to curse and scare Randy and Earl. Earl isn’t scared at first…

“I’ve got a cousin with Tourette’s who’s religious. It’s very similar.”

…but then O-Scar pulls out his voodoo dolls and threatens to hurt them very badly. When Earl and Randy try to return the evil child to Catalina, she runs away not wanting to deal with this problem kid anymore, so the two must live in fear. They go to Darnell for help, and are surprised that he has already created fake passports for them.

“I was trained to think three steps ahead. I saw this coming back in December.” — Darnell

At the Halloween party, Joy discovers O-Scar’s evil little ways, and since a voodoo practitioner hexed her when she was a child (the hex? To become pregnant before she got married), she tries to take out the child. When all hell breaks loose at the party, Earl realizes that he has in fact given Randy a little brother, so he crosses it off his list. Karma intervenes (well, the way it does on this show) and it is revealed that O-Scar doesn’t really know voodoo but is simply very good at using the power of suggestion, and turns out to be not such a bad little kid.

O-Scar? Oh no!

O-Scar? Oh no!

Two items down this week, a few hundred to go. The show has finally reached a nice middle-ground stride. Not great by any means, but still incredibly watchable. Keep them coming, guys.
The Office 5.5 “Employee Transfer”

It’s Halloween — did I already say that — and Dunder Mifflin is packed to the gills with costumed employees. Andy is a character from Cats, Kelly is Carrie Bradshaw, Ryan is Gordon Gekko and Phyllis is Raggedy Anne. There was bound to be some people who dressed in the same costume, and this time it’s Dwight, Creed and Kevin all dressed as (what else?) the Joker. (And of the three, Creed, of course, is the creepiest and most accurate Joker.)

Unfortunately in New York, Pam finds out too late that nobody at her branch dresses up for Halloween, so she is left dressed as Charlie Chaplin, complete with a mustache made with greasepaint.

“And I can’t even take off my hat. Because then I’m Hitler.” — Pam

The unholy alliance between the Joker and Chaplin has come to pass. Cower.

The unholy alliance between the Joker and Chaplin has come to pass. Cower.

After Halloween, the show goes a lot darker — as this show tends to do — because at the end of the last episode, a Dunder Mifflin representative caught Michael and Holly making out, and due to company policy one of them has to either transfer to another branch or quit. (For the answer, look at the episode’s title.) Michael is sad to see Holly go, so he accompanies her on a road trip to her new house in New Hampshire, with Darryl driving the truck. While they do love each other, Holly breaks down during the truck ride because she knows that their relationship could never survive the long distance (a seven-hour drive) no matter how much they loved each other and how much Michael protests.

Holly: Michael, don’t make it harder than it has to be.

Michael: [Sadly, quietly] That’s what she said.

Upon arriving in New Hampshire, Michael has the option of staying with her for a bit, but defeated, he decides to just get back into the truck with Darryl and drive back to Scranton, literally singing the blues. (Well, Michael’s version of the blues.)

At the office, Dwight is intent on driving Andy crazy, so he pretends that he is interested in matriculating at Cornell, Andy’s alma mater. Adorning his body and desk with Cornell sweaters and swag, he easily pushes Andy’s buttons, until Andy calls Cornell and gets permission to be Dwight’s interviewer for the school. The scene between Andy and Dwight as they evaluate each other in increasingly aggressive and silly ways was the highlight of this episode, basically an ode to how funny both actors truly are.

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!

In the episode’s third story, Jim drives to New York to have a lunch with Pam, where he is to introduce her to his brothers Tom and Pete. Pam gets there before Jim does, though, and tries to come up with a prank on Jim that Tom and Pete would help with that involves her pretending to lose her engagement ring. They decide they want to do another prank — mock Pam’s decision to make a career out of being an artist, because they know that Jim hates it when they give his girlfriends shit. Pam reluctantly agrees, and the lunch is the most awkward the show has been this season. It didn’t really end up being any kind of funny, but Jim finally defends Pam’s career choices only to have the extremely unfunny prank be revealed. The brothers decide, via text message post-lunch, that they really like Pam, and despite Jim being very pissed off at them, is happy that they have welcomed Pam into the family.
After last week’s incredible episode, I don’t think there was any way this week to match it, so the writers didn’t even try. Let a classic be a classic, and even with a lower laugh quotient like it was this week, it’s still better than most of the programming out there.

I will be sad to see Amy Ryan go so soon, as she was a bright shining light this season and a wonderful direction for the show to go in. Hopefully she can return later in the season after the producers offer her a good deal.

AND NOW HERE’S THE WIFE WITH THE REST OF THE NBC COMEDIES!

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.4 “Money”

I’ll give you the log line version of this episode’s two plots. Kath wants to have a fairy tale wedding which necessitates the acquisition of a pumpkin carriage, while Kim realizes that people pay up to $1,000 a puppy for purebred Rottweilers and wants to breed her husband’s dog, Ginger. I didn’t care for the Kath plot very much, but I will give it props for finally bringing Kath into the level of ridiculousness she often seems so above when she falls a few hundred dollars short of the deposit for her coveted pumpkin carriage. She calls Kim crying and wailing into the phone in words that are utterly unrecognizable as words. Hilarious. So far, Shannon’s best work on this show is that moment. Luckily for Kath, Phil wants to be her Knight in Shining Armor and rents the carriage for her, a gesture that she is so moved by that she and Phil must immediately have sex in the carriage.

Sadly, this dress was the inspiration for Kaths Fairy Tale Wedding.

Sadly, this dress was the inspiration for Kath's Fairy Tale Wedding.

Kim’s dog breeding plot ended exactly how one would expect a dog breeding plot to end: with a bevy of mutt dogs gangbanging the bitch in heat, thus impregnating her with non-pedigree puppies of indeterminate breed. I did like that the stud dog was named something along the lines of Gir Von Von Frukenhauser, which I think will be the name of my next apartment. (Our duplex is called Scooter McNippleton.) The good news about this plot is that it has a.) brought Kim and Craig closer together (even though Kim still resents Craig for not being the Craig that invented Craig’s List) and b.) found a way to bring Angel back into the series. This time, Angel has taken up volunteering at a dog shelter, which gets shut down, forcing Angel to find homes for ten dogs . . . the very same ten dogs that escape from her car and violate Ginger. It’s also good to know that NBC felt it was only decent to show one dog rape, choosing only to imply the remaining nine dog rapes by showing the dogs running into the yard, and then cutting to a sky-cam angle that showed Kim and Angel’s reactions to the dog rapes, but not the dog rapes themselves that are taking place under an open umbrella. I feel like that’s a little too much censorship. But, then again, maybe it’s just really hard to train more than one dog to hump on command. So maybe it was a practicality issue? I don’t know. Either way, I feel like I learned something about American audiences and their relationships to dog gangbangs.

In some unrelated notes from “Money:”

1. Phil wants to invent a sandwich to celebrate his love for Kath. His current “meat lab” experiment has brought him to conclude that the “sandwich that tastes like our love” would be “a warm tuna salad and sausage ciabatta with curly fries.” This is a double entendre, right? Tuna salad is what I think it is? And a sausage is, um, a sausage? If that’s true, then what the hell are curly fries? Pubes?

2. This episode started of with the fucking lamest pun in the world. When Kath complains about how Phil wants a small wedding, Kim suggests that they just get it over with and elope. Kath turns around, holding a fucking cantaloupe, and goes “Kimmie, we can’t elope!” Wow. Really? Really, Kath & Kim? Really? You went for a joke I last heard on Saved by the Bell back in 1991? Only when it was on Saved by the Bell, it involved Screech and went something like this:

Mr. Belding: Screech, you can’t elope!

Screech: Don’t call me a cantaloupe, you melon head!

No one can make a “cantaloupe/can’t elope” joke without forcing me to think about Screech.

(Husband note: I did not catch the pun until my wife just pointed it out, and now it’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week)

30 Rock 3.1 “Do-Over”

Both Jack and Liz get major do-overs in this episode. Jack, after losing his company to Devon and Kathy Geiss and returning from D.C., gets to participate in an accelerated re-do of his entire career, working his way up to the top from the lowly mailroom. (He is, after all, a man who “paid his way through Princeton by working the day shift at that graveyard and the graveyard shift at that Day’s Inn.”) In this process, which Jack estimates will take between 5 and 9 years (depending on how many times a day he gets promoted), Jack realizes that Devon is destroying the company and that he must do the unthinkable in order to regain control: sleep with Kathy Geiss. Just as Jack is about to give soap opera-obsessed Kathy everything he’s got, Liz bursts in and helps Jack recreate an even bigger soap opera trope that somehow involves murdering one’s twin at the gym and ends with two characters kissing. Well, almost. Jack and Liz care about each other, but not quite enough to put on a full show of kissing in front of a mentally challenged girl-child who loves sparkly unicorns and strawberry lipgloss.

I thought I was Kathys stawberry mouth boy!

I thought I was Kathy's stawberry mouth boy!

“Three of my nine siblings were adopted . . . and one day I’m gonna find them.” — Kenneth

Liz meets with her adoption assessor, Bev (Megan Mullaly), who immediately dislikes the curtain pulls in Liz’s apartment as well as how much Liz works. Then Bev meets Liz’s staff, who all contribute to the ruination of Liz’s chances at adoption in their own, special ways. Frank, for instance, can’t stop talking about the Mexican circus video he had planned on showing, Cerie keeps insisting that the adoption interview is a custody battle and that Liz should have full custody of her children, and Pete violently flings the babies out of the makeshift nursery that Liz claimed the office had in an effort to return them to the prop room before they were needed again. Liz’s chances at adoption are totally nixed, until Bev gets hit in the head and she wakes up not knowing that the interview even happened. Even after a do-over in which everyone tries really hard to get everything right for Liz, Bev still cannot grant Liz an adoption.

“I wish there were a box on these forms where I could check off ‘passion.'” — Bev

While Liz doesn’t get her baby, Jack does regain power at the network when Kathy makes him her personal business advisor, thus shaming Devon back into gay-sex-at-noon-in-Central-Park obscurity and Devin’s second money-making scheme, which involves him throwing himself onto the hoods of cars and threatening to sue. A line from Devon that I really liked: “You know what rumors are, Jack. They make a Ru out of Mor and S.”

Okay, now you do your Sarah Palin accent.

Okay, now you do your Sarah Palin accent.

Also, its really weird to see Tina Fey and Megan Mullaly stand next to each other, as they both bear a resemblance to a certain Vice Presidential candidate with a fondness for shooting wolves from helicopters.