Last night was the season premier of NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup, which features Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office (sans Steve Carrell), and the new comedy Whitney. Having watched them all, I wanted to post some of my thoughts.
First off, Community, a show that has moments of brilliance, but is just 'okay' for the most part. Last night's episode was pretty good, which included Jeff getting kicked out of' Biology 101' and, therefore, the study group, causing him to lose it. The best moments of the episode featured Chang living in the school vents, and making him a security guard at the end of the episode was an especially nice touch that has some comedic potential. Chevy Chase, for once, was not super-annoying, and, as usual, Danny Pudi and Donald Glover's Aped and Troy had some great moments.
Parks & Recreation, probably the most underrated Thursday night show, was the highlight of the night. Ron taking off into the woods and growing a full-fledged beard in about a day was one of the better moments. If you watched the show in season one and got turned off, it's time to give it another chance. It's basically a different show now, and is consistently one of the funniest shows on television.
The Office proved that it doesn't need Steve Carrell for the show to work, although it was strange having a season premier without him. Ed Helms' Andy filled in nicely as the new regional manager (although it felt like they were still writing for Steve Carrell and just having Ed Helms read his lines), but James Spader as the new CEO was underwhelming. After his debut in last year's season finale, I was excited to see what they'd do with him this season. There's still plenty of time, but at least in last night's episode, he was underused. Hopefully they'll figure out how to make his character shine, as Spader is a great comedic actor and a great get for The Office.
Finally, the new show. Whitney is NBC's only Thursday night show to feature a 'laugh track,' which is fine except that it was overused. Hearing a studio audience laugh hysterically at things that, really, aren't at all funny can be distracting. The show actually had some pretty good moments, and Whitney is a really good lead. The rest of the cast, however, was not so good. Maulik Pancholy, who is hilarious as Jonathan on 30 Rock, was just not funny here. He played a similar character to 30 Rock's Jonathan, but wasn't given any funny lines or anything interesting to do. Whitney's boyfriend was 'okay,' and they had pretty good chemistry, but all of her friends were just dull.
In Whitney's defense, it was much better and has a lot more potential then NBC's other new comedy, Up all Night, which premiered last week. It's a shame because I like Will Arnett, but the show was boring and didn't even make me chuckle once. Will Arnett can, and should, do a lot better. Christina Applegate, as usual, just annoyed me. She always seems to be trying too hard, and it just doesn't work for me.
Hopefully 30 Rock will come back in early 2012 and replace whatever new show NBC decides to stick with. At that point, NBC will have the best Thursday night lineup since the Seinfeld days (still the best sitcom of all time). 30 Rock is the funniest show on television and can't come back soon enough. Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock are all solid, and at times brilliant, shows and having them all together on one night would truly make "must see TV" mean something again.
What did you think of the season premiers? Are you happy with NBC's current Thursday night lineup?
The verdict: Consume (put your kids to sleep, turn off your phones, turn off the baby monitor, stop working, stop living your life, and watch these shows. It's free, it's funny, and there's absolutely nothing more worthwhile you could be doing with your spare time.)