Thursday Night TV Round Up: Community Is Back! Edition

Tony

Maybe you’ve already heard, but Community is back! This is great news. I feared the remaining eleven episodes would burn off over the summer, but fortunately/unfortunately NBC has no hits to speak of since the novelty of Cee-Lo’s little baby hands has failed to persuade anyone to watch The Voice and so they’re experimenting with a scheduling shake-up again. The return doesn’t hold any promise of a fourth season, but Community stands a decent chance as long as NBC continues being the weakest network in the game. In the meantime, I’m just excited to see our friends at Greendale again.

More good news: 30 Rock delivered its first legitimately great episode of season six last night. Since we were denied a Christmas episode this season the show decided celebrate Leap Day instead. How do you celebrate Leap Day? The 30 Rock writers (and director Steve Buchemi!) brilliantly invented a bunch of traditions. On Leap Day you do all of the things you normally wouldn’t do, so Pete can wear his braided necklace with a shark tooth on it, and Liz can consider being Indecent Proposal-ed by a rich college friend who has the apartment of my dreams! There’s also magic man named Leap Day William who emerges from the Mariana Trench to exchange candy for tears!

There was a lot to love in this episode, which also found Tracy trying to spend $50,000 in Benihanas gift cards and Jack asking his nanny to change her eye color (such a waste of voodoo). But my favorite thing about “Leap Day” was the movie Leap Dave Williams, a brilliant send-up of movies like The Santa Clause and Liar Liar that plays all day on cable every February 29th. The clips we were treated to featured a wonderfully game and self-aware Jim Carrey sprouting gils and a mustache before he saved Leap Day, connected with his son, and solved the case from earlier. Great stuff. Happy Leap Day, one and all!

Parks & Recreation kept the laughs coming with another brilliant Leap Day episode. Turns out Leap Day is Gerry’s birthday, and since he’s turning 64 the parks department decides to throw him a surprise sweet 16 party at Donna’s lake house.  Leslie takes on the party planning to prove to Ron that she can run her campaign without taking a sabbatical from parks, but quickly becomes unraveled. Also Ann and Tom try to figure out to figure out their ill-conceived relationship while April gets sloshed, and Chris bonds with Andy and Champion.

I really love how Parks is making Chris and April more three-dimensional this season. Chris especially has always been funny, but a little one-note. It’s nice to see him having a real emotional arc. The whole episode just continued Parks’ wonderful streak, and was stacked with funny moments, from Gerry in the bath to Andy sheepishly admitting that he ate one of Champion's soy bones.

The Office also impressed me last night. The front half of season eight has lame at best, and much of the plotting that got us to this point has been clunky, but now that we’re here I’m genuinely enjoying myself. Sure, last night’s episode a far cry from season three, but as an episode of television “After Hours” was quite good. To start, it featured the first Office cold open I’ve liked in a long time. The show’s cold opens have gotten so ridiculous this season that I’ve said the Office should just go full-on dada and divorce them from the show’s continuity entirely. Remember the one when Dwight killed Merideth? But the opening to “After Hours” had a nice little self-contained gag with a satisfying punchline. Appresh, The Office, Appresh.

This episode found Jim in his “casual Jim” gray v-neck sweater, which can only mean one thing: it’s a going out episode! The Tallahassee gang got a taste of the Florida nightlife while the remaining Scranton folks sorted out their paperwork. This episode was so jam packed with storylines I think it would have been better as a double episode: Cathy made her long-telegraphed move on Jim, Dwight and Packer (ugh) competed to bed Nellie, Erin and Ryan snuck into the hotel kitchens, and Darryl was confronted by Val’s boyfriend before finally making his feelings known. None of these threads had room to breathe, but I wouldn’t have dropped any of them. Hopefully The Office can keep this up.

I didn’t catch Up All Night last night but I’m sure it was pretty good. Since we’re here can we talk about Maya Rudolph’s SNL episode? So good! Bronx Beat? The Obama/Cosby’s? Justin Timberlake as Justin Vernon? Amy Pohler back on Weekend Update? MAYA ANGELOU? So much good stuff, go watch it.

That does it for this week. Very good overall. What do you guys think? Let me know below.