Ordinarily, this is when I'd be doing a morning round-up of recent programming, but the freak October snowstorm has had a kind of cascade effect, and the only Wednesday night show I've been able to see so far is "Happy Endings." I'll try to check back in "Suburgatory," et al next week, but in the meantime, a quick "Happy Endings" review coming up just as soon as I barter for my outfit using only illegal Mexican candy...
When I interviewed the "Happy Endings" producers last week, we talked briefly about why such a "Friends"-ish show is done in the single camera format. Watching "Lying Around" gave me another reason for why they're better off shooting it this way: since the actors never have to pause for studio audience laughter, they can just keep firing out one joke after another, with the jokes layering beautifully on top of each other, as in the group's discussion of Max's student film "Dog Leg Right," or Brad and Jane accusing each other in stereo, or Brent Musberger(*) recreating the famous Doug Flutie play against Miami to make a point to Brad. Lot of just boom-boom-boom material, and the further each bit goes, accumulating layers along the way, the funnier it gets.
(*) One of two well-used guest stars this week, along with director Fred Savage pulling double-duty for a scene to play himself. Savage has become a very good comedy director (he directed about half of "Party Down," for instance), but as with Ron Howard, he's a guy I wish would deign to act a little now and then. He was funny in 1987, and he's funny now.
Overall, I wouldn't call "Lying Game" quite as strong as the last couple of episodes, in that you could see where both the Brad/Jane and Alex/Penny stories were going well before they got there, but everything to do with the plight of Steak Me Home Tonight (which does, indeed, have its own website) was terrific, and the show as a whole is still damn funny.
What did everybody else think?