Sunday, March 28, 2010

TV Review: The rest of Thursday night, and inexplicably, South Park

I'm lumping in South Park with the rest of my Thursday night reviewing, since I forgot to write about the episode until now. Don't like it? Well, start your own god damn blog. As Butters would say, don't be such a phony.

- Even though I aggressively started off this entry by mentioning South Park, and included a photo from it, I still enjoyed Community more, even if it wasn't as good as Parks and Recreation. But hey, that was so good that it deserved its own entry last night. Maybe Community can reclaim its belt with its performance this coming Thursday.

I mean, it's not like this week's episode sucked. While Pierce got the most obvious sight gag of the week (Community loves sight gags, and I love them for it), the best storyline involved Annie and Shirley each trying to prove that they were "harder" than people thought. They were both asserting their dominance as a "bad cop" kind of character, and thankfully, Abed was there to spur them and the bald dean on.

Unfortunately though, their whole plot was based upon a premise that a prank gone horribly wrong caused Brita to frame Jeff for the crime. This fell kind of flat for me. It was enjoyable, but the cop dynamic between Annie and Shirley and Abed was better, and Troy and Pierce were wasted after the initial comic wizardry scenes. This could have been another A or A+ episode, but it fell just a bit short because the Jeff storyline was surprisingly stale.

Grade: A-

- Likewise, I would have given South Park a higher grade if they could have just reigned in the vomit a little bit. Seriously, there is projectile vomiting going on for about a quarter of the appropriately-named "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs."

The underlying message of the episode is actually great, as it is subtle criticism against all of the people who try to assign ulterior motives to books like The Catcher in the Rye, or say, programs like South Park, that simply aren't there. The boys learn from Mr. Garrison that The Catcher in the Rye, the next class reading project, has been chosen for the class because it has been banned in so many classrooms. Unfortunately though, they're disappointed by the lack of swear words.

As a result, they collaborate to write the most disgusting novel of all-time, which shares its title with the episode. However, when they think they're going to get blamed and punished by their parents for it, they say that Butters wrote it... only to find out that the adults love the book, because they think it is an allegory for their own personal beliefs.

If you exclude all of the vomit, a gross-out device that has been used in countless South Park episodes, then this is a strong episode. (Hey, I'm a mark for anything with Butters in it, especially if he's threatening to kill John Lennon and calling people phonies.) Unfortunately though, like "Smug Alert" and "Canceled", the episode veers a bit too much into the gross out shit (or vomit) to really appeal to me fully.

Grade: B+

- Unsurprisingly, The Office still brings up the rear, although this week's episode was much better than last week's effort. The focus has started to shift away from the boring corporate crap and staff drama to where the show made its money: burgeoning relationships and Michael's "aw shucks" buffoonery that makes you cringe while fighting the urge to give him a big hug. It also helps that Kevin was doing Kevin stuff throughout the episode, such as being very, very enthusiastic about seeing Pam, and making thrusting motions in the direction of Andy and Erin.

Tackling it in reverse order, Pam the New Mom is desperate to get out of the house, even if it means hanging out with the crew from the office. She even brings Michael a friend, so that they can do a bit of a double date. Things are going great until Michael finds out it is a date, at which point, of course, he freaks out and almost gets thrown out of the bar. The episode's bartender kind of reflects the viewer's general point of view, in my opinion; she goes from wanting to throw Michael out because of his boorish behavior to taking pity on him, and throwing her hat into the ring for his affection on the sly.

The episode's other plots mostly revolved around the various romantic tendrils of the office's tree. Very minor plots included Oscar hoping to hook up with a potentially gay guy in the warehouse, and the continuing oddness of Kelly and Ryan. Andy stupidly downplaying his relationship with Erin got plenty of screen time, which is a shame, because I've decided that she is the second secretly hottest character on NBC Thursday night, after Annie on Community and slightly ahead of April on Parks and Recreation. He makes amends at the end of the episode though, which is nice of him. Meanwhile, Dwight chooses Pam's freakishly tall bridesmaid to pursue instead of Angela.

Frankly, all of these storylines are retreads from past seasons of The Office - Michael has had a string of stupid love interests, Kelly and Ryan are a sick joke of a couple at this point, and Dwight is now the focal point of a love triangle as opposed to Angela. I guess the Erin and Andy stuff has a kind of fresh feel to it in terms of The Office plots, except that both are so freakin' weird that I can't imagine them having anything resembling a normal relationship. All of THAT being said though, I still enjoyed the show this week.

Grade: B

- And finally, I forgot to mention last week that the 10th episode of the season was the final one for Archer. It'll return at some point next year, which is a shame, since I was just getting used to its greatness. So, sorry, but I won't be able to include silly pictures from it in the foreseeable future.

As pennance, please except this picture of billionaire playboy Xander Crews from Frisky Dingo. See, back before they did Archer, the creators had a show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim called Frisky Dingo. While it didn't hit quite the high notes that Archer does - the voice talent isn't quite as good, since you didn't have H. Jon Benjamin or Jessica Walter - the show did have its own sort of continuous anarchy that made it wonderful. You can buy the combined season one and two pack, 25 episodes in total, for about $37. The individual seasons go for about $10 each. If you like Archer, or anything like Space Ghost Coast to Coast or Sealab 2021, then you'd also love Frisky Dingo.

Frisky Dingo overall grade: A-
Archer first season grade: A+

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