I have already watched Elf on cable. The holiday season starts earlier every year, I guess. This was the week in TV Land:
• I'll lead with the best news of the week: NBC has finally announced a date for the return of Parks and Recreation. The comedy will return on January 20 as part of a reorganized schedule that sees the network running a three-hour comedy block for the first time ever. It's moving to a new time slot, too: 8:30 p.m. CT, right after The Office. The whole night looks like this (all times Central):
7 p.m.: Community 7:30 p.m.: Perfect Couples, a new series about three young couples the network hopes you will believe are just like the people on Friends 8 p.m.: The Office 8:30 p.m.: Parks and Recreation 9 p.m.: 30 Rock 9:30 p.m.: Outsourced
The Times story linked above has a rundown about the rest of the net's midseason schedule, but most of it's about your standard bound-to-be-disappointing, including the improbable continuation of The Event, unwanted new seasons of The Marriage Ref and Celebrity Apprentice, and America's Next Great Restaurant, a reality competition show being willed into existence by the dark forces of the universe as a way to balance out the recent cancellation of Ace of Cakes, because we must as a society continue to pit our pastry chefs against each in a frosty battle royale until only one remains. Anyway, like I said: Parks and Rec is returning in about eight weeks, bringing an end to our long national nightmare.
• Speaking of NBC: the network is developing a game show called The Catch, in which people play catch. ... That's it. There's no joke. It will be a television program about people attempting to receive and retrieve objects thrown at them from a variety of angles. Seriously. Contestants will be cast. Cameras will be rented. Uniforms will be made. This is actually happening. Presumably NBC used up the last of its creative mojo when the manatees picked the idea balls for their other upcoming reality show, Love in the Wild, which is nothing more than The Bachelor filtered through Survivor. Again: these are all actually happening. Nothing I can say could make them sound more absurd.
• I'm not normally one for episode previews in terms of single-image selections, but I'm happily making an exception for this awesome picture from the Christmas-themed episode of Community, airing December 9. The episode will be done in stop-motion animation style, like the holiday specials you are probably about to YouTube at the office (I was always partial to this one), and it will probably be the latest example of why Community is the most enjoyable comedy on TV. (Future spoiler?) Anyway, here's the image, courtesy of TVdea:
• Get ready to break the bad news to your mom: CBS has canceled Medium. The network saved the series last year after NBC cancelled it, but it seems like the non-adventures of Patricia Arquette's excitable psychic are finally coming to an end. Ridiculously, a recent episode earned 6.8 million viewers and a 1.4 rating in adults 18-49, which is better than a lot of other series out there, but it looks like rising production costs (and, one assumes, a limited supply of "speaking from beyond the grave" plot lines) made the show impossible to continue. Just remind your parents that they still have multiple versions of CSI and NCIS, and they'll be fine.
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• Tina Fey was awarded the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize last week, an honor that befits her gifts as a comedian and satirist. In broadcasting the awards, though, PBS showed just how much they don't know how to handle themselves in the online era. Fey's acceptance speech ran more than 12 minutes, and PBS cut 30 seconds of it for time constraints. These 30 seconds just happened to be the ones in which Fey tore into Sarah Palin with a wit and viciousness unrestrained by jokey accents or weak SNL sketches, saying that Palin's success is good for all women unless you believe in gay rights, rights for rape victims, and evolution. Fey had already thanked Palin for the boost to her career, which made it a bit weird for PBS to trim more material on the same subject; the fact that they cut anything from the remarks made by the guest of honor is pretty weird. The thing PBS didn't think about was that if they'd left the bit in, no one would have cared the next day. No one. People would have watched the video and promptly forgotten about it. But by cutting content directly related to the divisive politician Fey's spent the last two years mocking, they all but ensured that this story would actually become a story. Badly handled all around. Fey's remarks survived online, and start around the 12:30 mark:
• It was overall a pretty light week, and the one ahead is no exception thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday. Thursday night you can catch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on ABC at 7 p.m. CT, since other Thursday series have the night off. There will also be a staggering amount of football, during which I will be napping. It's what the Pilgrims would have wanted.