This is the penultimate entry in our series of posts looking back at the NBC’s Thursday Night comedies. Still to come is a brief review of the ‘Community’ finale (not to be confused with our already published thoughts on the show’s move to Friday nights and the exiling of Dan Harmon), but today we check-in on ’30 Rock.’
30 Rock is a curious case. We’ve contended for years that it often is the funniest show on NBC Thursday nights. That is to say that it contains the most laughs per minute ratio (lpms) of the four programs. However, that has never necessarily been a compliment. In fact – and you might be smelling a “but” coming – that proclamation has frequently preceded our criticism of the show, or, more often, been the central tenet of our negative remarks. For much of the show’s six seasons it’s felt as if Tina Fey’s creation valued the laugh above all else, and sometimes praying at the altar of the almighty chuckle does not pay the dividends one expects.
More: Does ’30 Rock’ use Idea Balls?
With Parks and Recreation making its long, long-awaited return tonight, we thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at a post we wrote in September of 2009, just before the show returned for its sophomore season. Right now, in January of 2011, Parks and Recreation is widely recognized as one of the best, if not the best, comedies on television (which is why it was so excruciating when the series was pushed until mid-season to make room for the abominable Outsourced), but just about 17 months ago when it was coming off a lackluster, somewhat disappointing first season the story was much different. It’s developed into one of the most reliable, warmest, funniest shows on network TV or any other channel, and boasts perhaps the deepest ensemble cast, but back before its second season the jury was still out, and it was a show very much still finding its footing. But Jumped the Snark went ahead and asserted the potential of the show, watching the first season and finding much room for improvement but also much room for greatness. And we think its fair to say that both this blog and Parks and Recreation were vindicated.
In that post we outlined three areas where Parks and Rec most needed to progress to reach the quality of a show like The Office, its spiritual forefather (and not only has Parks and Rec equaled its progenitor, it’s now surpassed it. The student has become the teacher). Let’s take a look at those recommendations and how Parks and Rec took them into consideration.
See what we got right and they got wrong. Plus, our advice for Season 3!
(This a post I intended to compose a month ago, but then the holidays hit, and then the Thursday night comedies went on winter vacation so there was no real rush to write this. But with the comedy block returning tonight, save for The Office, this seemed like the right time to finally record these thoughts).
One month ago, on December 10, before the Jaypocalypse, NBC’s Thursday night comedies aired their Christmas themed episodes. And something funny happened: The Office, well, wasn’t. At least it was very clearly the weak link in what was otherwise a very strong night of comedy. 30 Rock continued to be the joke-for-joke best show on television, Parks and Rec extended what has been a breakout second season, and Community turned in what might have been its best episode yet. And The Office? By far it’s weakest Christmas episode to date. Sure, it had a lot of live up to – Christmas Party, Benihana Christmas – but it didn’t even equal last season’s Moroccan Christmas, which itself was rather a disappointment. And against the other comedies that night, it just didn’t measure up. Something seemed off.
Now, I’m not out on the ledge yet. But it’s certainly concerning.
Keep reading: Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? Plus Anthony Michael Hall and Julianne Moore!