Sunday, October 01, 2006

"Hi. Creed.": Some gleanings

Thursday night TV has gotten too brutal. I've already ditched Survivor (which got rid of its race distinctions too soon -- if you're going to go for controversy, REALLY GO FOR IT, Burnett), and I've passed Smallville, a show I never liked well enough to watch every episode of, even if I did like some of its characters, off to David.

And I'm still watching a LOT of stuff.

The night began (since I had seen Ugly Betty already) with NBC's beleaguered comedies, which continually underperform in the ratings (largely because NBC doesn't have a single safe night to put them on and no really good shows to pair them with). My Name Is Earl had one of its funnier episodes, making good use of a near-cameo from the always-willing-to-poke-fun-at-himself Burt Reynolds. The episode, which involved an attempt to bail Joy from jail, was the first to not focus on Earl crossing something off of his list, and it was a nice break from the show's occasionally rigid formula.

That said, the fact that the majority of the show was set in a strip joint kind of made me blanch. I'm certainly not a prude, and I like a little adult content in my TV shows, but Earl is a sweet-natured show, probably better suited to family viewing than just about anything else in primetime (the show's delightfully nasty double entendres have always been of the sort that would fly right over the heads of children -- and, hell, most teenagers). What's more, it's hard to make stripping seem sweet-natured (even though the show really tried by sort of implying that all men really want to see is hot women in bikinis jumping around a stage -- not that most straight men wouldn't watch, of course). And, of course, the show's central story of how a group of friends bands together to help another friend out is admirable. But still, showing a bunch of men sniffing a woman's breasts (even if it is just to get a whiff of the vanilla she's wearing for some reason) is a bit much.

Of course, since the episode was funny, none of this bothered me in the moment, but it did seem farther than the show has gone before.

I have no such compunctions about The Office, which is more of a 9 p.m. show stuck at 8:30 because there's nothing else to pair it with and the ratings aren't quite to the standalone point just yet. This week's episode mixed in a lot of plot development with some strong jokes. While it wasn't as instantly classic as last week's season premiere, it was funny and poignant, which is a solid combination where this show is concerned.

The show advanced a number of plots, from Pam and Roy's break-up and her re-entry into the dating world to the competition between the Scranton and Stamford branches (culminating in Michael making the big sale). Plus, we got to see more of just how sad Michael is and got a further taste of some of the background characters on the show.

This is all an excuse to post a video of Creed, of course.

Finally, Grey's Anatomy, which was back to its soapy, silly ways, even if I liked it less than last week's rather glum season premiere (I seem to be the only one in America who felt this way). The show's seeming insistence that we'll forgive McDreamy everything he ever did wrong if he'll just look at the camera with his piercing eyes is getting a little tired, but things are hanging together nicely on most other fronts. The Izzy story continues to be a drag on the show. I don't for a second believe she would be forgiven for what she did and/or let back into a medical program, but if maniuplating the plot so such a thing happens is what it takes for the story to mostly be dead and buried, then that's fine by me.

Tomorrow: More stuff!

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