The Wife:

Parks and Recreation 1.1 “Make My Pit a Park”

Here we go, boys! My own sitcom!

Here we go, boys! My own sitcom!

This pilot was kind of a letdown, filled with maybe a total of four things I found amusing, most of which were not amusing enough to actually vocalize laughter. I will list them:

1. Amy Poehler’s entire attempt to remove a drunk man from a children’s slide. There’s just something funny about poking a drunk man with a broom.

2. Loudon Wainwright III popping up as a local nutball who uses public forums as a way to rattle off his own conspiracy theories. First of all, I love Big Daddy Wainwright, even if, as a Rufus fan, I shouldn’t. (Listen to “Dinner at Eight” off of Want One if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Second of all, I come across a fair number of public forums at my current job and this is exactly what they are like. There’s always one guy who pops up to share his theories on Laura Linney.

3. That painting on the brutal slaughter of Native Americans by the pioneer women of Pawnee, Indiana? That I laughed out loud at. And then I was suddenly filled with white guilt.

4. “Sweet lady Marmalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarde.”

I wasn’t fond of the pilot for The Office, either, and television wasn’t nearly as important to me then (probably more important? drinking) as it is now, so I didn’t bother to give myself a chance to warm to The Office, which I’m told by many people I should be watching. For as affable as Poehler is as Leslie Knopp, and as much as I like Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones, there’s just something about these mockumentary-style shows I can’t get into. And this one seems imminently less relatable than The Office does. I’ll keep watching, because even though this episode was something of a letdown, it’s better than Kath & Kim.

30 Rock 3.17 “Cutbacks”

The celebration of TGS‘ 50th show is quickly snuffed when Jack announces that the Sheinhardt Wig Company is making cutbacks, and departments can either make them on their own, or let someone from corporate come in and do it for them.

“Enjoy your decorative airholders. You deserve them.” – Jack

So Liz is ordered to turn in a budget for her show, and even Jack has to make some cuts, firing Jonathan and asking Kenneth to do double duty as both NBC page and his assistant. But when it comes down to it, Liz can’t find any room in the TGS budget to scrimp. I mean, they need those straws, for the soda cans are the bathroom for all of the vermin infesting the halls of 30 Rock since Jack cut the exterminators out of the corporate budget. Enter Roger Bart as a corporate hatchet man to whom Liz must pander to save her show. She starts by giving an Apple-esque presentation about why TGS is awesome (it’s really conserving resources, you see, for it is a live show, a comedy show and a musical!), but Roger Bart remains largely unimpressed, although I don’t know how considering how freaking awesome Jenna’s Suri Cruise rap is. He orders Liz to cut 25% of her operating budget, and do so in a day, lest he do it for her.

And, really, how could you cut money from a show that Emmy magazine dubbed The Death of Comedy?

And, really, how could you cut money from a show that Emmy magazine dubbed "The Death of Comedy?"

When she is unable to make her cuts, Roger Bart goes ahead and fires a large percent of her staff, including the announcer who can’t really talk correctly anymore (but needs the insurance, that’s why Liz keeps him on). Liz decides to take a cue from Sheryl, a middle aged woman from another department who is ready to trade sex with Jack to keep her job (and, in fact, suggests to Liz that they team up and lez out a bit so they can get more out of it), and slut it up for Roger Bart in the hopes that he’ll show her department favor and give back her staff.

Like an 80s prom combination of William Wallace, Norma Rae and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Liz heads out to take one for the team:

“They may take my dignity, but they’ll never take our straws!” – Liz

But the next day after Liz offers Roger Bart some top front action, she finds that TGS is now the headquarters for Telemundo’s soccer sportscasts.

“Top front? Good Lord, Lemon, that’s your worst quadrant.” – Jack

She confronts Roger Bart about this and realizes, sadly, that what she thought was a business exchange was actually the first time he’s slept with a woman since his wife died. Heartbroken, he rails at the heavens:

“She’s a monster!”

Meanwhile, because Kenneth is busy juggling two jobs, he asks Tracy to feed his bird, with the stipulation that Tracy not enter Kenneth’s bedroom. Naturally, Tracy starts thinking that Kenneth is a serial killer, hiding bodies in his bedroom. I mean, why else wouldn’t you allow television star Tracy Jordan to enter your bedroom?

“Neither he, nor his bird, will let me go into his bedroom.” – Tracy

So Tracy does what one would naturally do when one suspects one’s coworker might be a serial killer and tells Jenna about it. She informs him that, based on the knowledge she gleaned about serial killers while playing Detective Jill St. Ferrari in the Lifetime original miniseries Hushed Rapings, Kenneth is most definitely a serial killer, especially because he has an inability to read facial expressions.

“I admonished him for that earlier!” – Tracy

After attempting to confront Kenneth about it, who is now speaking rather oddly because he’s not sure if he has to be Kenneth the Page of Kenneth the Assistant (he’s much tougher). Kenneth makes it seem like Jonathan is dead, and Tracy and Jenna go to feed the bird and investigate, ignoring warnings not to enter the bedroom. When they do, they see no bodies, but a bug bomb:

“Oh, no! Kenneth’s a killer or the Riddler’s coming!”

The bird drops dead, and they decide to confess their misdeed to Kenneth, who is so angry that he is forced to yell at them in his barn voice. I mean, they killed the bird he kept for over 60 years. I’d be upset, too. (60 years? Wow, the air in Appalachia has been good to Kenneth.) To make it up to him, Tracy and Jenna decide to buy Kenneth a whole bunch of birds, which he takes great delight in naming (Balthazar, Lorne, Michael, Donna).

Because of Liz’s sexual harassment of Roger Bart, she gets put on a mandatory two-week unpaid suspension, and she has to start the budget review process all over again – this time, under Jack’s supervision. See? Everything works out exactly the way you want it to when you harass sexually in the work place! Screw what that HR guy said!

As always, there is no such thing as a bad episode of 30 Rock. In the long run, I don’t think “Cutbacks” is going to be a classic episode of this show, but it was funny enough. I have a feeling I’ll be talking about Hushed Rapings for a long time to come.

The Husband:

I think if you’re looking to a Greg Daniels show (The Office, Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill) for loud, extended guffaws, you’re going to be disappointed. With the exception of the dialogue from some of the sillier Office characters, none of these shows are meant to make you laugh so hard your sides hurt in the way that 30 Rock does. They are clever, amusing, uncomfortable and true to life. They cause one to smirk, shudder, wince, chuckle, and, most of all, think. His previous shows work because they are about real people, not one-liner monkeys. My issue with Parks and Recreation wasn’t that it wasn’t this laugh-out-loud riot, but simply that, so far, I can only relate to the Paul Schneider character, and that may just be because I love his film work, especially David Gordon Greene’s All the Real Girls.

There are just different types of humor out there, and to expect one thing from something that it’s not may seem a tad unfair. But I do think that, had my wife stuck with The Office, she would have been better prepared for P&R.

It’s fine to not think something is funny, because humor is entirely subjective. But each show is entitled to reach its own form of funny the way they know how.

The Husband:

Surprisingly, both Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters kept it remarkably simple last night, a welcome respite for my currently over-serialized brain (where are my Privileged posts? They’ll come in a bit, after all my other delayed posts). DH especially took a time out from its mysteries to take us on a nice, if relatively pointless, series of flashbacks, and on a nice national holiday like today, it’s the perfect gift for a lazy day.

In fact, I think I can sum up DH pretty quickly and not feel like I’m shortchanging anything. Beau Bridges plays Eli Scruggs, Fairview’s favorite handyman, who has just had a fatal heart attack the day before he was to retire. As all the main gals play poker and get ready for his funeral, they reminisce about how Eli affected each and every one of their lives.

For Gaby, it was how Eli helped her fit in better upon her moving into the neighborhood so many years ago, as she was still an egotistical, socially inept former model struggling with Carlos’ decision to bring them to the suburbs. With Eli’s help, she is able to apologize to the main women in the cast for her rudeness and is finally accepted into the inner circle.

Well, thats nice, Gaby, but youre still kind of a bitch.

Well, that's nice, Gaby, but you're still kind of a bitch.

For Bree, it was that Eli gave her the confidence to stand up to her man (the now-dead guy thanks to a heart condition and Roger Bart’s malfeasance) and finally be able to write the cookbook that we see now has brought her so much wealth.

For Edie, Eli helped her understand men better by prompting her to realize that her muscley trainer husband Umberto was actually gay, and then he helped her understand men better by simply having a penis, as she jumps him out of desperation.

For Lynette, it was that Eli helped her get out of her I-don’t-have-a-career-because-I-keep-getting-pregnant funk and made her realize that her children are her most prized items in her life.

For Susan, it was making her aware that her husband at the time wasn’t just cheating on her with one woman but perhaps even several. And then years later, upon finding that Susan has broken up with Jackson (which is fine because now Gale Harold doesn’t have to literally phone in his performances anymore), he helps her understand that sometimes it’s good to simply live alone for a bit.

And finally, Eli was there the day that Mary Alice killed herself out of grief for her season 1 crimes, and upon learning of her death mere hours after talking to her, devotes the rest of his life to helping people live their lives better.

The. End.

Eli Scruggs is dead. Long live Eli Scruggs.

Eli Scruggs is dead. Long live Eli Scruggs.

Like I said, the episode had no forward momentum, no real connection to this season and provided no extra clues to what we needed to solve, but it was nice going back to the show’s heyday and even before, so we could get a better understanding of these women (who, let’s be honest, we pretty much understand completely anyway). And it was nice to see Beau Bridges take a break from living in Camden County and dealing with his karma-obsessed ex-con son Earl Hickey and move on over to Fairview, where he could be all savior-y on ABC.

Aaaaaand over here in Pasadena, we have our Walkers on Brothers & Sisters. Also framed as a flashback episode, the show opens with Nora, Sarah and Rebecca one-by-one getting onto a hotel elevator, each looking unkempt and, as we are meant to infer, all looking very post-coital. We flashback 48 hours to see what led up to this.

While Rebecca, in a tiny subplot, seems to have bitten and has become an unknowing pawn in Tommy’s evil plan to overthrow Holly as the CEO of Ojai Foods, but this is pushed aside so she can be all jealous that Justin has taken in a new sponsee, but, against the rules, it’s a female sponsee.

And while Nora freaks out about how expensive her Cancer House charity is going to be, Kevin accompanies Robert on a quail-hunting expedition with some very powerful Republicans in order to secure their support for Robert’s run as California governor. Kevin is not happy at all the digs against his gay and liberal beliefs, so he loses his shit, but for his own peace of mind as well as Robert’s political future, he apologizes just in time to let the Republicans drop their support for a Humboldt County official also interested in the governorship and throw their weight behind the McAllister campaign. Now that Robert is just about ready to get all crazy political now, how is this going to affect his marriage to Kitty as well as the baby that’s on the way?

You know, Id eat quail at a five star, but Id rather not kill it myself, you know?

You know, I'd eat quail at a five star, but I'd rather not kill it myself, you know?

But the central purpose of the episode is to get everybody to Greentopia’s launch party, where the booze is flowing and Sarah, already on edge thanks to her 10-year-old daughter arguing with her over her little child desire to wear slightly inappropriate attire, is about to lose her mind if the Greentopia website does not find an investor. Fortunately, it does, and everybody celebrates in his or her own ways.

Ethan, the dark-haired founder of Greentopia, tells Sarah in a moment of boldness that he has had his eyes on her since they first met, and they go up to one of the several rooms leased out for the evening. Rebecca, meanwhile, is upset that Justin could not show up to the launch party, because he’s with his female sponsee and doesn’t realize that it’s his and Rebecca’s first anniversary as a couple. Dejected, Rebecca lets the other Greentopia founder, Kyle, bring her up to the honeymoon suite she had decorated for the occasion. And Nora, battling over price with Roger, finally realizes the sexual chemistry that has been going on between the two of them for 30 years now and brings him up to her room.

Ahhh…but the show twists around on us, and instead of doing something drastic for, say, bigger ratings, lets us as viewers know that it would never forsake its characters just for the sake of drama. Here’s the fun part — none of the three disheveled women actually sleep with any of their prospective beaus. Nora, right after she and Roger begin making out, passes out drunk immediately. Sarah realizes that she’s only giving herself up to Ethan because she’s treating him like a charity case. And Rebecca — who I might have started hating if she actually cheated on the wonderful Justin simply because he had some responsibilities as a recovering alcoholic — doesn’t even let Kyle get his hands on her and simply sleeps alone in the honeymoon suite. So the next morning, everybody’s fine, and everybody has learned various lessons about the ways they have been behaving.

This was a wonderful episode that could have gone horribly awry, and it’s only real misstep was the Kevin story which was pretty much just a reiteration of everything that has been going on between him and Robert ever since Kevin joined his team as communications director. I especially liked the way Sarah, after overreacting to her daughter’s obsession with this short, sparkly dress, goes to the mall and buys the dress for her again, and then has a talk with her that while often the daughter is allowed to have a say about these kinds of things, Sarah is still the mother and she has the right to overrule Paige on occasion.