Saturday, April 26, 2008
The writing is sharper than a drawer full of Ginsu knives, the characters are wonderful and weird. The Office and 30 Rock are both spectacularly good and have not lost their groove one tiny bit from the writer's strike hiatus.
This week's episode of The Office ("Night Out") found Michael, the world's most clueless boss, continuing his search for love in all the wrong places. I adore that although Michael is always one taco short of a combo plate, no one ever seems to acknowledge it. His awkward antics are always the elephant in the room...really big, maybe even smelly, but no one wants to mention that it's there. "Night Out" begins with the new manager Ryan returning to the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflen. At an all hands meeting in the conference room Ryan defends his disastrous website which has crashed because its new Social Networking application has become infested with sexual predators. Dunder Mifflin 2.0 was doomed from the get go. Ryan heads back to NY and Michael and Dwight decide to meet him there for a debauched night of clubbing that includes (hang on to your hats) a dwarf, a team of Amazonian college basketball players (Dwight makes out with one of them), a bar fight and a substance abusing Ryan. Back at Dunder Mifflen, Jim's had a great idea to work late on Friday so they all wouldn't have to come in Saturday. Their joy soon turns sour when they discover they are all trapped at the office behind a giant padlocked security gate. While the crew complains and they wait to be rescued, Toby the nerdy HR guy, makes a rare witty comment and Pam laughs. Toby reaches over and strokes Pam's leg while a horrified Jim looks on, in a scene so creepy I had to watch it 3 times. Mortified, Toby announces that he is moving to Costa Rica, bolts from the room, hops over the chain link fence and is gone. Breathtaking, brilliant and so very, very strange.
30 Rock was also back in Heavy Weight Champion performance mode. I think there may have been about 5 layers of stories stuffed into the "Succession" episode. The pace is so quick you have to keep your hand on the DVR button to rewind for missed lines and moments. The A story finds our hero Jack in a meeting with the marvelous Rip Torn, who plays Don Guise, the NBC Chairman and CEO. He tells Jack that he is going to be the successor when he retires and Jack bursts into tears of joy.
Meanwhile in the B story, Liz Lemmon is imagining what life would be like if she hadn't gone into show biz. She daydreams herself as Dian Fossey with gorillas in the mist. Her jungle fantasy is disrupted when Jack suggests that she should become his successor. A whole new C story thread ensues with Liz trying to become a corporate suit at an alcohol fueled business dinner. In the D story, Tracey Morgan is horrified to find his son didn't invite him to parent's day at school. He decides he needs to become an inventor so his kid will be proud of his accomplishments. What does he invent? A porn videogame, of course! This sub story also has it's own sub-sub-thread which compares Tracey and Frank to Mozart and Salieri in "Amadeus". Must be seen to be believed. There is also a fine E story thread involving Devon, the low talking, ladder climbing corporate snake and Jack's arch nemesis. Devon, even though gay and enamored of Kenneth the Page, has become the fiance of Don Guise's impossibly unattractive daughter Cathy.
Everybody is trying to become something they are not in this episode except for Jack who has always known he wants only one thing. To be the top dog at NBC. In the cliff hanger ending, his dream is still just out of his reach.
Back to back, The Office and 30 Rock continue to be the tightest, funniest, smartest shows on TV.