The Morning Round-Up: '30 Rock,' 'The Office' & 'Up All Night'
Some quick thoughts on last night's episodes of "30 Rock," "The Office" and "Up All Night" coming up just as soon as lupus lets me cut in line...
Though I want "Community" back on the air ASAP, I was very glad to have "30 Rock" back, especially after what I found to be a strong fifth season. But outside of a few stray moments (Jack seeking wisdom from baby Liddy, Jack being surprised by Liz for once with her mystery man, the arrangements of the various public domain songs from "America's Kidz Got Singing"), I didn't enjoy the premiere very much. I would say something deeper than "it didn't make me laugh," but "30 Rock" is a show that for the most part (outside of Jack and Liz's friendship) doesn't aim any deeper than that. It can be wickedly, brilliantly funny; this just wasn't one of those weeks for me. (Building a big subplot around Kenneth didn't help, as, with a few exceptions, he was the biggest flaw even when much of last season was so good.)
"The Office" wasn't particularly laugh-out-loud, either, but I found the trivia contest plot to be fairly charming. Andy's plan was ridiculous and unnecessary, but every character but Andy acknowledged that, and they just went along because it was something fun to do(*). And the contest gave various characters a chance to shine - none more than Kevin, who desperately needed some rehab after the show had written him as borderline disabled for most of this season. The Dwight/Gabe/California-in-Florida story wasn't nearly as strong, but it at least confined two of the show's most cartoonish characters (plus the variably eccentric Robert) into self-contained scenes I could ignore until we returned to the gay bar.
(*) I would say that the five or so hour round trip from Scranton to Philly does stretch the boundaries how much the staff hangs out - particularly for somebody like Jim, who's got a tired wife and two babies to get home to - but that ship sailed a long time ago. In this incarnation of the show, they go on long road trips together, they go to each other's amateur musicals, they attend all-day garden parties, and they drive five hours there and back to go to a gay bar's trivia night.
Finally, "Up All Night" arrived on Thursdays with one of its strongest episodes to date, and one that coincidentally also featured a trivia game. Like I wrote in my sneak preview post on Monday, bringing Jason Lee in as Kevin has solved several of the show's biggest problems by creating a more natural reason to bring Ava into Reagan and Chris' suburban world and by humanizing Ava in both the work and home scenes. Putting all the adult characters(**) into Reagan and Chris' house allowed the three couples to be funny both in pairs (Missy's dissatisfaction with her perfect boyfriend was my favorite) and in combination (everyone being afraid of Reagan when she gets too competitive). A satisfying, funny episode that also worked on a character level.
(**) And congratulations to Reagan and Chris for having a baby who's such a sound sleeper that they can throw a New Year's Eve party featuring loud arguments, Rock Band and fireworks displays without waking her up. I have not been that lucky.
What did everybody else think of any or all of these?
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
Let Streaming Genie help you.