Parks and Recreation: The Flu (Season 3, Episode 2)
I miss Paul Schneider. Also, I’m glad he’s gone. As charming as the Mark character was, he like most of the Parks and Recreation characters, started off as a poor man’s version of a more popular character on The Office. I’d hoped there was some other reasoning to cast someone who resembles John Kransinski enough to have play his brother (like he did in Away We Go) other than to capture some of that character’s success, but 2 seasons later Mark hadn’t done much to differentiate himself. The Flu succeeds at what Mark never could, sure the plot is pretty interchangeable with any sitcom, but it also does it better than any NBC must see TV could.
For one, we get to see just how the characters have actually grown. A lot of people have noticed the dovetail in quality The Office has taken lately.
To me this would be because the show never gave their character’s the room to grow. Example: Dwight, is conservative and anti-social, and today Dwight is strange and anti-social. There’s only so many things the writers could do with and that allow him to exactly stay the same. Okay this isn’t really about the Office so I’ll shut up about and let Laura do the real reviewing there, so back to my point. Ron doesn’t like to get involved, yet in The Flu Ron is stepping outside of the box to tell Andy that April is in the hospital. See? Character growth!
More character growth, Rob Lowe went from one of the most annoying characters to one of the most endearing in just two episodes. Like Ann we needed to see him taken down a peg from the unbearably optimistic guy we met last season. Most of that was done for us in Go Big or Go Home when we get a little back story about his childhood in the hospital (Did anyone else tear up?). But what really sealed the deal with Ann (and us) is Chris commanding himself to stop pooping. Adorable!
It does worry me though that everyone seems primed for a hook-up. Things seemed to be resolved with April and Andy, although she’ll most like let him dangle a little longer, Ann and Chris are officially dating, and Leslie and Ben are pretty smitten. The only drama on the relationship horizon seems to be the Tom/Ron/Tom’s ex wife love triangle.
30 Rock: Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning (Season 5, Episode 12)
I’m going to declare Operation Cowboy Lightning the best Tracy Jordan episode out of the last 5 seasons.
Since it aired only two days after the Oscar nominations were announced, we know that Tracy has gotten a nod for his harrowing performance in Hard to Watch.
His quest to get an Emmy, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT) has given Morgan some new material to work with. While Jordan usually gets the best lines, he’s rarely anything other than a punchline. For his part what he says and does is easily interchangeable with Jenna, so putting him in some new situations like Angie’s reality show where he has to defeat Liz with something other than blunt stupidity is really refreshing.
I’m just going to skip over Lutz’s part. Every season, one of the writers gets their own subplot and every time it never pays off (except for maybe Frank). Lutz should always be on the periphery’s of the story, just leave him there.
Overall the episode was a little off kilter mostly because Liz wasn’t much of a presence.
It was interesting to see Jack fill the role of loser with his epic fail of Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning (love that name). 30 Rock usually does it best when it’s parodying corporate America, in this case it was Jack’s strategy corner the ratings with a disaster relief telethon. It was basically one long set-up for a rather funny disaster. Of course a little more Robert Deniro wouldn’t have hurt either.