Friday, April 20, 2007

"Not only is that a huge downer, but scarves are tacky" - 30 Rock and Scrubs

I think, at this point, everyone is aware of how awesome NBC’s Thursday night programming is. Every one of the four shows it offers are among the most consistent currently on television. Unlike Todd’s super-sized, all-encompassing column last week though, this week I’ll just be covering 30 Rock and Scrubs. (I’m quite far behind on Earl and Office, I’m ashamed to say.)

First, 30 Rock. Another absolutely hilarious episode this week, among the show’s best. One of the show’s weaknesses has been that there’s often one storyline weaker than everything else, but happily that wasn’t the case this week – everything was comic gold, from Liz’s momentary infatuation with Cleveland, to Phoebe’s suspicious activities (the moment where her accent disappeared was priceless, and I didn’t see it coming) to Tracy being stalked by the Black Crusaders.

This episode saw a crisis in Liz and Floyd’s relationship. Floyd doesn't get his promotion, so he accepts a job in Cleveland and wants Liz to come with him. The montage of their visit to Cleveland was an episode standout (“Would you like to pet a real police horse?”) and I enjoyed how it compared to New York ("What's this fungus cream for?"). I also liked the constant repetition of ‘Blurgh’, and of course there were plenty of other little throwaway gags peppered throughout the episode, too many to mention but all of them funny as hell. Eventually Liz realises she can't leave New York and her and Floyd's relationship breaks down, although apprently he'll be back next episode, in the season finale! Can you believe it's almost over? I certainly cannot.

Scrubs wasn’t on as high form. It went against its usual format again this week, but instead of giving the narration to another main cast member it instead shifted the focus onto supporting players Todd, Jordan and Ted. The show wouldn’t be the same without its background characters – not just these three, but the whole huge ensemble – but nonetheless, in the background is where they should really remain. As hilarious as these characters can be, they work better in short bursts. Then again, the storylines the writers built around them were both funny and believable, so as a one-off experiment the idea worked well enough. I especially liked Jordan’s scenes; her little 'Beard of the Month club' fantasy was amusing and her final scene, where she shed her bitchy tendencies and was honest with Elliot, was poignant but not overly sentimental.

One odd thing about the episode was that J.D. only made two very fleeting appearances. I get that the focus wasn't meant to be on him, and maybe the idea was to make him like one of the background characters who only appears once or twice a week. Still, even in other format-defying episodes J.D. has had something to do, so his complete absence was somewhat off-putting. Nonetheless, a fun episode, if not one of the show's best nor as good as the Laverne two-parter that came before it.


Edward Copeland said...

You should really try to catch up on Earl. I've been amazed this year how fresh they've been able to keep the show which would seem as if its premise would make it lose steam fast, but the opposite has been true. Last night was hysterical, with Norm MacDonald playing the son of the character played by Burt Reynolds on an earlier episode. I've said this many times before, but I'll say it again: Give Jaime Pressly the damn Emmy already. She's priceless.

Joey said...

Yeah, I just never had a lot of enthusiasm for the show, plus the first episode of the this season really put me off because it was so, so random. I have heard from several people that it got better though, so I'll definitely catch up some time soon.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

My understanding is that Braff was busy with a movie commitment (though I can't imagine what), so he had to sit out the episode, reminiscent of that Taxi episode where Judd Hirsch only appeared at the beginning and end.