Yes, I Did Say Parks & Recreation
Anyone who dismissed this show after its first sorta underwhelming episode made a mistake. The show has only gotten tighter and sharper, culminating in last night's funny/sad finale. Leslie got kissed, Chris Pratt got his casts off, and Tom Haverford introduced us to his shockingly attractive wife. We love the small, wistful pacing and joke-making of this show. It's not quite as broad and Commedia Dell'arte as The Office. There's something wiser and a bit more weary at work here, especially in Amy Poehler's outta-the-park performance. Her scenes with her old man date were pitch-perfect and just a bit sorrowful, and the almost-at-the-end scene of her and Mark sitting by the pit, near about to kiss, was a heartbreaking little study in rumpled adults being rumpled adults. We're very glad this show got picked up for a second season.
The Office, Who Knew?
Though the season started off pretty weak and we started to write the show off, suddenly something changed or reversed. Everything from the Michael Scott Paper Company on has been basically golden. Though it was a bit of a logistical stretch to have all the branches coming together in one central place for the Dunder Mifflin corporate picnic last night, it was still an ingenious set up and a nice reminder that, even though we're all these seasons in, the writers can still come up with a scenario that feels familiar and banal but, you know, funny. Pam's volleyball prowess was charming where it would have been cloying just a few episodes ago, Michael and Holly (I mean, really, Steve Carell and the ridiculously wonderful Amy Ryan) have such touchingly awkward chemistry, Dwight's weirdo best friend was jolting and gonzo, while Stanley's little aside about not normally enjoying the theater elicited a loud hoot. Plus, you know, Jim and Pam and a baby! Has John Krasinksi ever actually acted like that on the show before? He should do it more often.
30 Rock, Of Course
This show has been on a steady climb most of the season, though this episode, for us, fell just slightly short of some of the other recent installments. Maybe it's because we don't really like music jokes all that much, because we're lame. That aside, Chris Parnell's brilliantly insane Dr. Spaceman is always welcome ("maybe it's the hard K sound that's getting me...") and "sexually transmitted crazy mouth" should enter the lexicon. Plus: Kenneth getting religiousy about science class, "Rainstorm Katrina," and the gay kid at graduation bit ("Who told?") all killed. If the closing, kinda-creaky "We Are the World" joke at the end felt a bit flat to you, well, you're not alone. But all the rest considered, it certainly wasn't a deal breaker.