Each Thursday, Dylan Garsee and Nick Hanover force themselves to watch NBC's entire Thursday night line-up. This is their story.
Nick Hanover: So we last left off on these reviews with a 30 Rock cliffhanger. Which inadvertently led to a cliffhanger in our own tv reviewing. The gist of it is that I was temporarily out of service due to a radical surgery where my heart was forcibly removed from my body. And Dylan was doing whatever the fuck it is that he does when I'm not around.
Dylan Garsee: Remove cataracts from poverty-stricken North Koreans.
Nick: Aren't all North Koreans poverty stricken?
Damn it. You made me look xenophobic again.
Dylan: That's what the Communist Americans would like you to think.
Not communist, capitalist
Nick: So what you're saying is that there are Communist Americans who are purposefully trying to cloud your vision of a faux-Communist Asian nation? Interesting. And on that note, let's talk about "Idiots Are People Three!"
"Idiots Are People Three!" & "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell"
Dylan: 30 Rock is back, guys. Every episode keeps getting better and better this season, and "People are Idiots Three" may be my favorite episode of the season.
Nick: It helped that it had a strong first part to build off of. Sometimes when 30 Rock does these two parters you get one decent half and one gigantic waste of time, but "People Are Idiots Three" had some excellent jokes AND real character development with the Jack/Lemon approval storyline.
Dylan: Before Jack and Liz got into this weird father/lover/co-worker relationship that plagued all of the last two seasons, they had a sort of parasitic/symbiotic relationship. And Jack's disapproval of Liz's new boyfriend, Criss (with no "h" and two s's) felt like it would fit along great in the first season.
Even though the Jack/Liz/Criss plot was the main storyline of the first part of this two-parter, it carried over with Liz trying to decide if she should dump Criss or not, based on Jack's disapproval of him.
Nick: Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey don't get enough credit for the chemistry they've developed in this particular area. Yeah, they're a great comedy duo, but they've also got real acting chops and in episodes like this one, that's the true payoff. You can see the real emotion behind Jack's fatherly disappointment, and Liz's desperate need for any kind of approval.
Dylan: I always forget that Alec Baldwin is an Academy Award nominated actor.
Just like Jonah Hill.
Nick: Speaking of prestige, what'd you think of the Kelsey Grammer storyline?
Dylan: He's always a pleasure, and the Jenna, Kenneth, and Kelsey plot honestly was my favorite part of the episode.
Every character acted totally over the top, as they should have; it was a totally over the top scheme.
Nick: Kelsey randomly staging a one man Lincoln performance as a distraction was hands down my favorite moment.
Dylan: Just the whole reasoning behind the improvised one man play was absolutely brilliant, and could only come from the mind of Kelsey Grammer.
I did the same thing in elementary school. If I ever needed to hide my report card from my parents, I'd just stage a monologue about Rutherford B. Hayes.
Nick: Really? I see you as more the Grover Cleveland type.
Dylan: I saved that for times I'd get sent to the principal's office.
Nick: The only disappointment for me was the main plotline, which I found to be a little more tiring in this episode than the first part. Admittedly, it was kept to a minimum, so it didn't impact the episode very much, but I just felt the joke had run its course before the episode even started.
Dylan: I felt the same way about Jack's plot with Devin Banks. Even though it marked the return of the fabulous Kathy Geiss, it just seemed to run its course in about 5 minutes.
Nick: I have a feeling that the Devon Banks bit was more of a set-up for some future developments, particularly with the ending of that, as Jack uses the situation to pontificate on his own humble origins.
But more Kathy Geiss is always welcome, as far as I'm concerned
Dylan: Any member of the Geiss family is always welcome. Don, Kathy, and the lesser known but always awesome daddy's fancy boy, Bertrum.
Nick: It's interesting that this double header of a 30 Rock was more or less all about relationships and family. Th
e second episode of the evening, "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell," focused specifically on a rift between Liz and Jenna, whose relationship has always been somewhat difficult to decipher in terms of what either gets out of it.
Dylan: 30 Rock seems to sometime forget that Liz and Jenna were friends long before TGS.
Tonight brought that relationship back, but added some more of the recently amped up Jenna craziness.
Nick: I was torn on this episode, because I thought the Jenna craziness was lazy writing…but I also loved her "new best friends," especially Mankind.
Dylan: I miss Michael, Sasha, and Gay Michael. I think I can live with Knob Kardashain, The Kid from "Charlie Bit My Finger," and of course, Mankind.
Nick: Is it bad that I was kind of hoping Knob Kardashian and Charlie would get married?
I felt they had a connection, you know?
Being the same mental age and all.
Dylan: I didn't know Charlie had the same mental age as a lamp.
On the odd friendships angle, I got a kick out of Liz's doppelganger, whom she found in the restroom at Barnes & Noble, but that whole side story of Liz trying to figure out how to make friends was kind of a non-starter for me. Part of it was the weird Sex & the City gag, which felt tremendously pointless and part of it was just that the joke was so overdone.
Dylan: It was strange how Liz doesn't have any friends for three seasons, yet as soon as Jenna says they aren't friends anymore, Liz is lonely. If they kept it consistent with showing that Liz and Jenna are friends first, then Liz having to look for a new bestie would have made more sense.
Nick: I never got the sense that Liz and Jenna "hang out," it seemed more like they had this past, and occasionally that past would get referenced, but otherwise they just antagonized each other at work. You're exactly right about it being kind of a forced scenario since Liz has never before shown any inclination towards being social.
I'm going to take this opportunity to reiterate how tired I am of Kenneth being in the spotlight, though. The "we're going to switch to computer pages!" plot was also pretty tired, I feel like every sitcom set in a work environment has done some variation of it. Usually 30 Rock can do those cliched plotlines and turn them into something unique, but this was another case of this season kind of failing in that regard.
Dylan: The switch to computer pages was really stupid. However, I loved the name, "Not Kenneth," and the fact that it was voiced by former Jenna Maroney, Rachel Dratch.
Nick: Oh Rachel Dratch. Is there any show that you can't creep yourself off the set of?
Dylan: I think Rachel Dratch, Judy Greer, and Heather Graham all take turns being small parts on other people's shows/movies.
Nick: They're the show business equivalent of remoras, basically.
The Philly Phanatic was by far the best joke of the episode though, thanks in no small part to the revelation that he is the Aquaman of sports mascots.
Dylan: Poor Philly Phanatic.
Nick: He just wants to save his underwater kingdom. In my head, I imagine that he is the king of the sea monkeys, because he is the largest one.
Dylan: I don't know what the Phanatic actually is, but there should be laws against it.
Nick: The Phanatic is actually required by law to stay at least 50 feet away from all human beings.
Dylan: Just like Mickey Rourke.
Nick: Jack's storyline here kind of bored me too. It seems like "humbling Jack" is a plotline that 30 Rock just throws out when they can't think of anything else to do.
Dylan: But the whole episode faced the same problems that the season opener faced. Just rehashes of old plotlines with new jokes.
Nick: I like to think of it as a bonus track. There was no reason for it to air, but it was better than nothing, I guess.
Dylan: Sounds about right.
So what do you want to give "Idiots are People Three!/The Ballad of Kenneth Parcel?"
Nick: I'd give "Idiots" and "Kenneth" .
Because I am the bad cop here.
Dylan: I'll say for "Idiots^3," and "Kenneth" gets .
Because I'm the hot cop.
Nick: You can't be a hot cop. You don't have a moustache. Or short shorts.
I have the pube beard and a jockstrap. I'm someones fantasy.
PICTURE IT IN YOUR MIND.
Nick: I'm just going to put in that photo of you in the Tupac shirt there.
Dylan: Do it, see if I care!
Nick: Anyway, moving on to the reigning ruler of Thursday, Parks & Rec…
"Bowling for Votes"
Dylan: This episode was great, 5 stars. Next review.
Okay, I guess we can discuss it more.
Honestly, I felt this episode was slightly weaker than past episodes of this season, but it was still miles ahead of any other comedy on TV right now.
Nick: The AV Club actually recently spent an entire review of Parks & Rec discussing how hard it is to review a show that is pretty much consistently near perfect.
Dylan: As they should. I know I'm going to sound so butthurt when I say this, but I don't understand how a show so great still manages to struggle in the ratings, while shows like The Big Bang Theory and that show with Tim Allen that's not Home Improvement break records every week
Nick: People are intimidated by perfection, obviously.
So, what about this episode made you feel it was weaker?
Dylan: Leslie seemed to almost resort back to her season one ways of being a caricature. Leslie doesn't have one mean bone in her body, yet it seemed like she was just being petty with the one person in Pawnee who didn't like her. The episode was still hilarious, I just felt it was a tad of a stretch.
Nick: I can see that. But at the same time, I was glad that they called back to that aspect of her character in a way that wasn't forced. Leslie's defining characteristic is her stubborness, after all. And I think this was less an instance of her being petty than it was a sterling example of how she lets that stubborn need to win everyone over is often her biggest weakness.
That said, I did feel like the episode was a bit of a step down with that main story. But the side stories were great, with Ron and Tom's interactions really standing out for me.
Dylan: The Leslie plot reminded me a great deal of the Greg Pikitus episode from a few seasons back, but she was defending the Parks department, while tonight she was just defending herself. But I agree, Leslie's stubbornness is a big part of her character.
And the 15 seconds Tom and Ron were on screen, I laughed the hardest. Especially Ron's names he chose for everyone that was bowling.
Nick: "Girl" "bowler" "Tom."
Tom's "poor little bird" screams were hilarious, though. And the pay off, seeing Ron bowling the Tom way, was pitch perfect.
Dylan: Like I said a few weeks back, this show succeeds in the way it does because it treats the characters like real people. And Ron bowling like Tom strangely is the most "Ron" thing he could do.
Nick: Ron being too proud to claim the perfect game he bowled was a nice touch too, reminding us that even when Ron caves on something– in this case bowling like Tom– he's still too proud to back down.
Dylan: Speaking of things Ron does in private, there needs to be another appearance from Duke Silver.
Nick: Oh shit, I had completely forgotten about Duke Silver.
Maybe Duke Silver could play a benefit for Leslie.
Dylan: Ron would do it.
Or should I say, Duke Silver would do it.
Nick: I have to say that I did think the decision to have Leslie turn the lemon of a cranky man into the lemonade of a fun event, albeit one that ended in disaster, was classic Parks & Rec. Parks & Rec's writers are scarily good at twisting the plots of the episodes in directions that defy the expectations you might otherwise have for the characters without sacrificing their development.
A bowling event is exactly the kind of dorky yet cool thing someone like Leslie would use and that it tied into the conflict so well was impressive. My problem came mostly from the end, where Leslie made her ballsy speech but then undercut herself by going on about making out with her campaign manager. That seemed at odds with the brassy professionalism they were trying to project moments
earlier, though it did help show why someone like Leslie might be struggling so much with her campaign.
Dylan: That was strange, considering that came from the same character who wouldn't even open a gift bottle of wine because that would count as bribing a government official.
But similar to the Greg Pikitus episode, Leslie does some crazy stuff when her balance is messed with. Now, making out with her boyfriend isn't as crazy as kidnapping and holding a high schooler hostage, but it was still a tad out of character.
Nick: The B Story was nicely done, though, as we got to see Chris get taken down a notch or two and he suddenly became much more relatable.
Dylan: That also brought April down a bit, which reminded me of how sweet she could be, something I haven't seen since "Fancy Party."
Nick: April's attempt to make a gesture to Chris was surprisingly touching. April, as much as I love her, is often used as more of a comedic prop than a character. So I was glad to see her get the opportunity to be a Real Human Being here.
Dylan: Like every episode, this week made me smile at every moment, and that's the sign of a great show.
Nick: I'm most impressed with how well the writers have maintained a consistent story throughout the season. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but in a comedy, that's practically unheard of. Even feature length comedy films have a problem maintaining one main story.
Dylan: Even Arrested Development started to get convoluted toward the end, and that show is the new gold standard for comedy.
Nick: So I'm thinking for this episode. How about you?
Dylan: Yeah, sounds about good.
Nick: And with that, let's move on to our next round of tardiness, with the final average for this evening being
Thursday Part Two
"Today You're a Man"
Dylan: SO THAT KRISTEN SCHAAL WAS CRAZY ON 30 ROCK THIS WEEK.
Nick: Kristen Schaal's character looks like she'd know a lot about horses. If you know what I mean.
Dylan: Well, Kristen Schaal is a horse.
Nick: That explains that, then.
Nick: Horse jokes aside, what'd you think of our celebrity cameo this week?
Dylan: Suze Orman is the only person who can wear a pantsuit better than me.
Nick: Enlightening commentary there, Dylan. My feelings on the Schaal front are less clothes horse oriented and more devoted to how underwritten I felt her character was. I like Schaal quite a bit, and I feel that her appearances on Flight of the Conchords and Mad Men have shown that she has a nice bit of range, but on this 30 Rock she seemed to be a completely half assed character.
Dylan: Yeah, she was very half-assed. Her entire outing consisted of "HI I'M A NEW PAGE. OOPS, I'M KIND OF CLUMSY". Roll credits.
She's my favorite part of Bob's Burger and my favorite new toy from Toy Story 3, but as an NBC page, she kind of flatlined.
Nick: I don't think she deserves the blame, though. I felt the writers really gave up on that plot and didn't bother putting any effort into it. Far better, as usual, was the Jack/Lemon conflict, which found Liz remaking herself as an androgynous Jack.
Dylan: Of course Liz would have a pair of those obnoxious FiveFinger running shoes.
Dylan: I loved the scene when Jack had an argument with himself in a mirror, which was actually an argument between Regular Jack, and Jack's interpretation of Liz trying to be Jack. A nice little call back to the mirror argument between Writer Liz and Actor Liz from the only good episode of season four.
Nick: For some reason that argument reminded me of Miami Blues, which is quite possibly the strangest Alec Baldwin performance of all time.
Dylan: Stranger than Cat in the Hat?
Dylan: That pink blazer is pretty dope.
Nick: You should probably pick one of those up. But just wait a minute and let that clip get to the part where…
Dylan: WHAT THE FUCK.
Nick: b>TOLD YOU!
Dylan: Okay, well it was good writing for Comics Bulletin. That scene made me question my life, so I am going on a sabbatical with D'Angelo and Sade.
Nick: You should see the whole movie. It's like a stage of enlightenment.
Back to more normal Alec Baldwin performances, the verbal daredevilry in that argument scene also recalled Glengarry Glen Ross and Baldwin's classic single scene. Baldwin doesn't get enough notice for that aspect of his acting, he's got a way with words that's dazzling to watch even when he isn't really saying anything.
Dylan: Everyone was on top this week, especially in regards to one of my favorite plots of all time (yeah, I said it): Jenna and Tracy as the entertainment for their mutual accountant's son's Bar Mitzvah was classic 30 Rock. Especially the post-credit scene where the pair try to, but miserably fail to recreate the Abbott and Costello sketch "Who's on First?"
Nick: No, it would have been classic 30 Rock if it had been a werewolf Bar Mitzvah. FAIL
Dylan: SPOOKY SCARY.
Nick: I also got a kick out of Judah Friedlander swelling up after an allergic reaction and looking like his character from Feast. But I am probably alone in that.
Dylan: Yes. Yes you are.
Totally Where That Allergic Reaction Would Have Gone Before Long
Dylan: I loved that Gina Gershon is both Jenna Maroney and Tracy Jordan's nemesis.
Every line from their scenes together brought me back to 2008, when 30 Rock was in its prime.
Nick: It made me wonder why we don't see more Tracy/Jenna pairings. Every time those two are forced to get into crazy shenanigans, everyone wins.
Dylan: They're the Problem Solvers!
Nick: I mean, am I wrong, though? They used to pair them up more frequently, and the last two seasons that seems to have been dropped. It's like they live in separate nations now or something. Like they're Canada and the US and they have some completely pointless border between them. I have no idea where I'm going with that.
Dylan: "Creativity to me is just like a bird, like a friendly bird that embraces all ideas and shoots out of its eyes all kinds of beauty"-Liz Lemon.
Nick: Uh, yeah, totally. You know what my favorite part of this episode was, though? It was the second time in a row Kenneth has been replaced. Which I'm going to assume means 30 Rock is listening to me and they're planning on killing Kenneth off. That will be the season finale. And it will be truly the best thing.
This is Actually What Comes Up if You Google "Dead Kenneth"
Dylan: I hear they're replacing him with Dwight and the baby from Up All Night.
Nick: That would be a trio to end all trios.
What are you giving this episode?
Dylan: , only because of the failure of Hazel Whatshername.
Nick: , mainly because I still think some fat could have been trimmed here.
Dylan: That's why I'm doing P90X now.
Nick: So you can shed Kenneths?
Dylan: Yes, but not in the way you think
Speaking of, I have to do P90x now. Will you be alive in an hour and 15 minutes?
Nick: Theoretically, yes.
Dylan: Well, if all goes to plan, no.
Nick: Damn it, Dylan. What did I tell you about the vague death threats?
Dylan: This is the second coming of my second favorite NBC false holiday, Galentine's Day (my first being Merlinpeen, the Holiday of Mouth Pleasures from 30 Rock).
Nick: Not that I ever have to worry about whether a Parks & Rec episode will be any good or not, but that gag with Leslie giving her mom a pillow of Stalin was a pretty damn good sign that we were getting off on the right foot.
Dylan: I want that pillow, only so I can wake up with Stalin's face.
Nick: Although it did make me wonder why we haven't seen more of Leslie's mother during this campaign.
Dylan: Maybe her mom has been too busy with her new boyfriend to help Leslie out.
Nick: Good point. And we know that relationship is going well since she immediately started to give all of us way more detail than we could ever ask for about their sex life.
Dylan: And now I'm remembering it. Thank you.
Nick: But of course the real story wasn't middle age sexcapades but instead a continuation of last week's episode, complete with Chris as the world's saddest DJ at a Valentine's Party, and some diversions in the form of a crazy scavenger hunt Leslie puts Ben through.
Dylan: Who would guess that Chris Trager would have such a great taste in downtempo EDM?
Nick: And suicidal monk chants.
Dylan: Also, I really want to know how Leslie finds time everything in her life, including setting up an insanely complex city-wide Valentine's Day scavenger hunt for Ben.
Nick: The same way I do: exploiting holes in the time stream.
Dylan: I think she stole Hermione Granger's Time Turner.
Nick: I considered making that joke but chose to abstain. Because unlike you, I have self control.
Dylan: I spent the night at a Barnes and Noble's in Beaumont, TX for the 7th Harry Potter book.
I have no shame.
Nick: The scavenger hunt storyline stole the show for me tonight, if only because of Ron Swanson's secret love for riddles. And Andy breaking the glass on that display. And hell, all of it.
Dylan: And the cameo from Roman from Party Down!
Who apparently is on that show I haven't had time to watch yet because I'm re-watching The Wire.
Nick: I've been rewatching Party Down. It's even better this second time around. Or maybe that's just because I'm spending an inordinate amount of time buried in catering work right now.
Dylan: ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?!
Nick: That is actually my work's motto.
Dylan: Even though I love Adam Scott, he will always be that rapist teacher who knocked up that high school girl on Veronica Mars.
My favorite plot of the night though, and this will probably be the only time I'll ever say this, was Ann's search for a new man.
Nick: And on that note, let's talk about the quest to get Ann a boyfriend.
Nick: WE IS PSYCHIC.
The Ann storyline was a surprise for me too. Ann is a fine character but since the radical shift in direction the show took after the first season, Ann has felt a little out of place. But this episode allowed her to take the spotlight in a way that wasn't forced and which also allowed her plenty of room to pair up with cast favorites. Like Tom.
Dylan: And Oren, the prince of darkness.
Parks & Rec always has the best reveals, and Leslie and Ben finding out that Ann was actually going on a date with Tom was no exception.
Nick: Parks & Rec would have my soul if they'd do an Oren episode. It could be like that Simpsons episode where we see Springfield through a bunch of different perspectives, "22 Short Films About Springfield."
Dylan: Oren becomes Chris' new intern.
Nick: Oren gets hired to assassinate Kenneth.
Dylan: And Dwight.
I would watch that so hard.
Nick: Oren't You Glad to See Me?
Dylan: We can work on the title later.
HIRE US NBC.
Nick: But yes. Ann running off to go on a date with Tom rather than Chris, as Leslie suspects, was a nice flip of expectations, but also fitting, since Tom truly was the only guy making her happy that evening. In his own special way.
Dylan: Tom was the last person I suspected, and the only one that made sense.
Nick: I'm not going to lie: Ann and Tom is a sitcom pairing that I could actually get behind. It's quirky enough to be interesting, but makes enough sense that it doesn't seem gimmicky.
Dylan: Tom was married to Wendy in the beginning of the series, and if you squint and close your good eye, Ann kind of looks like her.
Nick: Tom could use someone like Ann, who seems drawn to projects even if she doesn't have the best track record when it comes to
Dylan: What most surprised me was April's willingness to help Ann hide her secret date.
Nick: I think April is secretly discovering that she actually likes helping people.
Dylan: April has made it no secret that she doesn't particularly care for Ann.
Nick: Just like Ron has discovered he loves scavenger hunts.
Dylan: And bowling like Tom.
Nick: That's more of a love-hate thing.
I am curious to see what does happen to Chris, though. Which woman will he exhaust next?
Dylan: He obviously has the hots for Jerry.
Nick: That would be the next logical step, genetically.
Dylan: That makes my mind hurt.
Nick: So what are we giving this thing?
Dylan: I was going to give it , but I honestly couldn't think of anything that made me dislike the episode, so I guess .
Nick: for me. Only because I'm scared of what an actually perfect Parks & Rec episode would be.
Nick: So, The Office?
Dylan: Oh god.
Nick: That's pretty much my feeling on this. An entire episode devoted to Jim being a dick.
Dylan: So every episode?
I don't understand how a show that usually finds humor in the everyday mundane makes a purely boring episode.
Nick: This was different though. This was all about Jim doing a selfish thing, then outright saying at one point that he had no idea his decision to skip work would lead to bad consequences for his co-workers and then smugly following that up by saying that the least he can do is give them some entertainment. FUCK YOU JIM.
Dylan: Yes, Jim. FUCK YOU.
Nick: This episode also functioned as an exceptionally good example of how Andy has mutated into a blank slate of a character, whose only real role seems to be that of enabler.
In this case, he helped Jim build up the lie about his jury duty and made the situation worse as Dwight played detective. There was no real reason for Andy to do this, other than his newfound desperate need to please every single damn person every single damn moment of the day.
Dylan: I feel bad for our readers, because every week they come to read our reviews of the NBC Must See TV, and every week we destroy The Office. But we can't help it if NBC won't euthanize this Terry Schiavo of a comedy.
Nick: Just wait until the Dwight spinoff happens. Then they will see true hate.
Dylan: The day I have to review the Dwight spinoff is the day I quit Comics Bulletin.
I mean humanity.
Nick: But seriously. This show has no purpose anymore. NBC had the opportunity to let things end gracefully with Steve Carell's exit. But instead they've chosen to keep this show on the most depressing form of life support ever. Hell, even the Angela-Dwight baby conundrum subplot returned to predictably lame results. THE BABY IS FAT OMG.
Dylan: Usually The Office is well made, but just terribly unfunny. But this week was terrible from a technical standpoint as well. I totally forgot about the Angela plot because the show forgot to come back to it for at least a commercial break and a half.
And it was important to the character development, unlike the "I'M SO AWESOME BECAUSE I'M JIM" plot.
Nick: But see Dylan, we're supposed to feel bad for Jim, because BABIES SCREAM.
Nick: It's weird because I feel like you could make a new, better show entirely from the perspective of Dwight, revealing that Jim is truly a villain and that Dwight only seems insufferable because of Jim.
Jim is like the worst kind of bully, a guy who has everything, is popular and makes everyone think he's a good guy all as he's completely fucking up your life and getting away with it.
Dylan: Like how Midnight Sun is Twilight, but from Edward's perspective.
I'll show myself out.
Nick: Too late, I already released the dogs.
Dylan: I'll just hide in the bathtub.
Nick: I genuinely want this show to take risks, though. I want it to stop treading water in the post-Michael Scott era of confusion and just develop a new, viable identity.
Dylan: Parks and Recreation did that, the first season is drastically different from the second. Because the writers were smart enough to realize that what was happening wasn't working.
Nick: So, you're saying there's still hope here? That next season will be a complete turnaround and somehow this show will wind up being relevant and worthwhile again?
Dylan: 30 Rock did it.
But probably not.
Nick: Weirder things have happened, I suppose. So, I'm thinking for this episode. What about you?
Dylan: . I have no soul.
Nick: I've seen worse episodes, and I think we'll be seeing worse in the weeks to come, so I'm holding back.
And now on to Up All Night, which continues to exist.
Dylan: Unlike The Office, I actually think that Up All Night has a lot of potential, and has been slowly getting better.
And tonight's episode was no different.
Nick: This episode was the first that really held my attention completely from start to end. And that's thanks in no small part to Dean Winters.
Dylan: You mean Ryan O'Reilly?
Or Dennis Duffy?
Or, as from my friends who don't watch good television call him, Mayhem from those commercials.
Nick: Winters is perfectly smarmy but what won me over was the surprise emotional twist towards the end, where we realize how much Chris and his brother love each other, despite how bad they are at showing it. Both are proud and competitive, but those traits are expressions of what they're feeling and they're true to life as well, as anyone with a sibling can attest. Sibling rivalries get milked for laughs all the time, but Up All Night truly caught me off guard with how effectively they mined the emotional aspect of that rather than just going for the obvious humor.
Dylan: Up All Night is finally settling into its own shoes, and I feel that it can only go up from here.
Even Ava, who usually annoys me to no end (when I pay attention to the show) was hilarious when she came to be the auctioneer for a pre-school charity event.
Nick: Ava's faux-auctioneer speak made for some of the funniest moments of the episode. Both storylines were well-developed actually, and the epiphany at the heart of the pre-school storyline was similarly familiar but different. I mean, we recently saw Portlandia tackle basically the same subject, but Reagan's sudden realization that the pre-school she was fighting so hard to get her child into was maybe not worth it was nicely done. Seeing Ava be the voice of reason here, with her comment that the pre-school's administrators are a bunch of starfuckers, was fitting but nuanced, the kind of common sense that's especially effective when it comes from a friend who's not normally known for common sense.
Dylan: It's strange that two completely different shows on completely different channels would tackle such a precise topic the same week, 23.5 hours apart. And while Portlandia may have tackled in it in a funnier way (that DVD was fucking hilarious) Up All Night had more heart. And that's something that The Office is missing. There is no heart at the center.
Nick: Exactly. As much as we mock Up All Night, it's easy to see how much the writers like these characters and understand them. There is no Andy equivalent on Up All Night. Each of these characters has a distinct role and purpose and they fit the narrative based on that. Reagan and Chris's relationship was nicely portrayed here as well, with the highlight being Reagan's conversation with Casey effectively displaying how much she cares about her husband and understands him, even if they occasionally fail at communicating that.
Dylan: You know this show is a good when it makes the two most cynical people like it and see that it has heart.
We're the same people who left a 10,000 person dance party because we thought it was boring.
Nick: Fuck the Decentralized Dance Party, man. That night was nothing but bullshit and me carrying things for ungrateful assholes while the world's worst DJ set list went on forever and ever and taunted us. It was like being stuck in an Office episode where they leave Scranton for once and realize that as shitty as their town is, at least it's not full of a bunch of dicks.
Dylan: I should not have grabbed the biggest ghetto blaster.
Spot Dylan and Win a Free iPad! Joke's on Y
ou, We Had Already Left By This Point
Nick: And this review just went meta. Oh shit.
Dylan: Are we dead?
Are we in the Matrix?
Nick: We died at the Decentralized Dance Party. That ambulance we saw was actually for us.
And now we're in limbo, reviewing shitty Office episodes and occasional glimpses at heaven in the form of Parks & Rec.
Dylan: Maybe the Decentralized Dance Party was when we were supposed to cross over together, and since we left early, we never crossed.
So now we're stuck in purgatory.
Nick: I knew my life was actually a subplot from Lost. Damn it.
A Typically Somber Comics Bulletin Editorial Meeting
Dylan: This review got real weird, real quick.
Nick: Let's face it, Dylan: all of our reviews get real weird, in various degrees of quickness.
Dylan: Just depends on the amount of Franzia Mother Garsee had before he sat down at his computer.
Nick: And in further acts of weirdness, I am actually giving Up All Night .
Dylan: I'm giving it as well.Great episode of a rapidly improving show.
Nick: Now for the night on the whole. Let's recap: we had a good 30 Rock episode, a great Parks & Rec, a terrible Office and a surprisingly good Up All Night. The Office kind of skews the average here, but I'm saying .
Dylan: Because I don't feel like working in decimals, sounds about right. The shocking Up All Night outshone the expectedly horrible Office.
Nick: And that's a wrap. Next week we'll be on time, with the refresher up just before that night's new episodes. Seriously. Because I am not posting anything this epic again for at least another two weeks.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set and functioning as the Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and has contributed to No Tofu Magazine, Performer Magazine, Port City Lights and various other international publications. By which he means Canadian rags you have no reason to know anything about. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.