Last Night’s Shows, Today: The Office, Parks & Rec Season Premieres

Earlier this week I took a few minutes and actually created a schedule of shows we want to watch this TV season. Yes, that’s lame, I know this, but I also have a bad memory and wasn’t sure when a lot of the new shows were on. For the most part, we’re well set without many new shows clashing with old faves. The only big problem area is that two returning shows that I really, really dug, Happy Endings and New Girl are on at the same exact time. Someone needs to fix that. Anyway, I realized as I have for the past few seasons that I’m most looking forward to watching existing shows over new ones.

Last night’s a great example of this as the only two shows we really watched were The Office and Parks & Rec on NBC (at 9:00 and 9:30 PM respectively). As you probably know by this point — at least I do because I’ve been writing about it all summer for Spinoff Online — this will be the very last season of the show. The series creator Greg Daniels, who went on to do Parks & Rec has come back to end it and he says they’re going to wrap things up well. The first few minutes of the series showed a lot of this, showing Kelly and Ryan’s exit from the show and FINALLY some of the documentary behind the scenes stuff (which I’ve been wondering about since the series began). After all that, we got to see Andy return from an outward bound experience that had him gain confidence and get a little further away from the Michael Scott mold he filled so clearly last season. His stuff with Nellie was really fantastic.

Overall, I really liked this episode. It definitely feels like they’ve got their feet back under them now that there’s a real focus to the show with its upcoming finale. While I liked the past few seasons, it deed feel like they maybe didn’t have the same focus as the old days, even with larger, overarching stories going on. I’m actually really excited to see how these characters end up and finally find out why they’ve been filmed for so long. I’m not mourning the end of the series, I’m anxiously awaiting the end to see how it all wraps up as I love a good ending.

Ten minutes into watching the first episode of the fifth season of Parks & Rec, I turned to my wife and said, “That part before the theme song was better than the first season put together.” When this show first premiered I was bored to tears, but after the first, shorter season, it really came into its own and has rocked my world since. It’s rare that I give a show a second chance after being disappointed by the first season, but P&R benefited from not really having anything opposite it that I wanted to watch. I’m glad for that now, because this is easily up there on my favorite shows and unlike a lot of other faves, it seems to be getting better as it ages instead of feeling stale or like a rehash.

The first ep kicked off with Leslie and Andy visiting April and Wyatt who are working in DC. Leslie, who won a seat on Pawnee’s city council at the end of last season, finds herself dealing with feelings of insignificance and disappointment which are both real and funny, a tough mix to nail. I wasn’t as involved in the second story which saw Ron taking charge of the department appreciation picnic and focusing solely on the meat portion of the BBQ. There were funny bits for sure, but I think Ron’s character works better when he’s not outwardly being a dick to so many people. It’s funny when it’s Rob Lowe’s Chris because they’re direct opposites, but less interesting when he’s so clearly in the wrong and mistreating the people who work for him. Sure, he learned his lesson, but I think we all saw where they were going about 2 minutes into that story. However, the scene with Ron driving away with the barbecue still attached to his car was worth the price of admission alone. So, all in all, a somewhat uneven episode, but I still had a ton of fun and am jazzed to see where the season goes.

Jimmy Fallon’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” Glee Riff

Three of my favorite tastes do in fact taste great together. Well, I can’t say Glee is a favorite especially trying to go up against Lost, but the songs are fun. Anyway, on last night’s Jimmy Fallon he played this video in which his glee club was trying to prepare for a competition only to find Amy Poehler and the cast of Parks & Recrreation already rehearsing there WITH THE ROOTS. It’s pretty epic.

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Series Finales: Thursday Comedy

As you all know, I’m a big fan of NBC’s Thursday comedy line-up (well, everything but Parks and Recreation). Well, I was pretty happy with the season finales for My Name Is Earl, The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock.

My Name Is Earl had some pretty obvious twists when it came to the end of the episode (Em called both of them), but I freaking love Norm MacDonald so that was awesome. It even makes up for the fact that they pulled MONKEEa Lost and are making us wait the summer to find out who’s kid is whose.

Parks and Recreation was okay. There was some stuff with Leslie and Mark, but it ended up just being weird. I do like seeing her let loose, go the club and try to break a bottle in the pit, but I’m hoping that it carries over into next season (if there is one). As it is, I think I like Kath and Kim better on a week-to-week basis, but I don’t necessarily want to see either show get canceled.

The Office was epic on all kinds of levels. When you start off with Dwight making that horse doctor joke, then follow up with reuniting Michael and Holly, THEN kick things up with a pretty hardcore volleyball game and THEN end with SPOILER Pam being preggo! Oh snap. Plus, you’ve got Dwight’s friend giving Angela shit for being a cheater, Charles vs. Jim on the court and Dwight and Jim actually hugging! Oh and the super awkward moments between Michael and Holly on and off the stage, all of which culminates in Michael’s heartbreaking view of his relationship with her through the lens of When Harry Met Sally. Ugh, awesome.

And of course, 30 Rock kicked ass. Again. As always. There were too many awesome moments for me to actually make note of them all, but I LOVED all the musician references. We got Liz being selfish, another good Kenneth and Tracy story and Jack being Jack. Here are the high point notes I took:

*”Fruit Blindness!”

*Tracy watching fake rain, awesome.

*”Suburban 7th graders have more sexual experience than you.” – Jack.

*”What do you think this is, Wings?” – Jack.

*Elvis vs. Clay.

*MJB is hilarious, Loch Ness Monster Charity!

*Clay is Kenneth’s cousin, awesome!

*”7th hour of the today show.” – Cerie.

*”S that D, Shut it Down.” – Liz, my favorite recurring quote.

*Tracey’s speech is awesome.

*”Okay but I’m allergic to horses.” – Tracy

*”Sit down Quiznos in Midtown?” – Liz

*The Beastie Boys are jerks.

*Oh man, I want to see the spin off of Tracy, Kenneth, Dot Com and Grizz in college!

*5 seconds in and the song is awesome.

*”We sure had quite a year.” – Liz “What are you talking about, it’s May.” – Jack. Great ending. Great song. Great show.

What’s The Opposite Of Jumping The Shark?

I have no idea, but tonight’s episode of Parks and Recreation has actually been pretty funny. Poehler’s Leslie Knope is still Michael Scott-ish, but the other people in this episode seem to like her more than people generally like Michael (which is, understandably, not much).

Could this be a further sign of the apocalypse? I can’t even put my finger on what’s different, maybe it’s that her co-stars Aziz Ansar, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Rashida Jones and Chris Pratt (Bright from Everwood, an over-dramatic, but still kind of addictive teen drama that Em got me watching) got more screen time and showed how funny they can be. I even liked Leslie’s boss played by Nick Offerman, a character I’ve kind of hated since the first episode (he’s a government employee who hates the government).

I still have a problem with the whole idea of a mock reality show in which normal people do anything they want on camera. For instance, while Pratt is in a kid’s pool in his back yard, is neighbor comes in and takes Pratt’s boombox while the camera is on him. The dude seems like a fairly mild mannered fellow, so it rings a little false that he might do something like this on camera. As viewers, we’re not sure how long the crew has been following them or what the deal is. There are plenty of nods and looks towards the camera, but why are the cameras staying at Pratt and Jones’ house? Are they there to document the filling in of the pit? These are all logical story questions I have that I hope will eventually get answered. Actually, if the episodes continue to be this good, I’ll let is slide, like with The Office, which is on right now!!!

Oh, Kevin, you poor sunnovabitch.

Parks and Recreation

So I checked out the new offering from the guys who make The Office tonight and wasn’t too impressed. Even from the commercials for Parks and Recreation during tonight’s first episode of The Office, I noticed that it already looked too much like The O with the whole fake documentary style of shooting and interviewing. But that’s not where the comparisons end as Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope character seems like a female Michael Scott. But, I’ll continue to give PAR a shot, partly because I already watch NBC on Thursdays and partly because the combination of Poehler, Office alum Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari are enough to keep me coming back for now. Oh, plus, their intern is played by Aubrey Plaza, a name I recognized, but couldn’t place. Well, she’s playing Julie in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim flick! Look for a post on Scott Pilgim coming soon.

Anyone else check it out?