TV Land: 30 Rock Is Back! And Some Other Stuff Happened Too
It was a long week in TV Land, so let's get some Cheesy Blasters and do it to it:
• 30 Rock is back! 30 Rock is back! I know that some of you -- most of you? -- probably thought that Texas' victory was the best thing on TV this week, but that's because you're young and don't know much yet. Trust me: Skillful works of art will outlast the games, no matter their glories. Because seriously, 30 Rock is the new Arrested Development, and its fourth-season opener was jammed with quick jokes, great characters, and the kind of meta-references guaranteed to make you smile. (My personal favorite was Liz's frustrated mutter, "Is this really our first week back?") Plus it ended with a knife right to Jay Leno's gut in the form of a mock NBC Sports video pandering to "real America," which Jack Donaghy used as an example of giving the people "what they want" before turning to the camera and saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, Jay Leno." Then bam, transition to The Jay Leno Show, and a move from sarcastic despair to unironic blandness. The tonal shift is jaw-dropping. Damn the man and save the empire!
• I mentioned last week that NBC had canceled Southland, presumably to make more room for one-word hospital shows. (Coming soon: Illness!) But The Hollywood Reporter brings word that producer John Wells called cast members last week to tell them he's in talks with two networks right now in hopes of finding a new home for his cop show. The nets weren't identified, but there's been talk of TNT showing interest, though TNT has been so busy programming old-people bait like The Closer that they might not know what to do with a legitimately interesting show. Still, good luck to Wells. Even though he took The West Wing and beat it to death over a bloody three-year period, his latest show deserves a little more life.
• Okay, seriously, there's something wrong with Fox and/or Comcast. I was watching The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX on my 27-inch CRT, and the edges of the titles were cut off, especially on the first act. It has to be the high-def feed, but for some reason it's not letterboxed on my older TV. Please tell me this is just my set being defective (on just one channel, consistently).
• How I Met Your Mother mixes likeability and boredom like no other sitcom before it. There have been great, funny episodes in the series' run, as well as filler eps, wasted plotlines (Stella!), and the inescapable fact that the lead is played by Josh Radnor, who's probably hella cool and would totally go see Paranormal Activity with you and talk about it afterward at Quizno's but who on TV is ball-crushingly dull to watch. But despite this season's lackluster beginning, there was a spark of something beautiful this week with the running gag about Marshall's photo montages set to his own awkward guitar playing and original songwriting. It was just a minor joke, but one that let the character be truly absurd and act like himself, instead of the broader comedy the show can sometimes rely on. I'm still humming "Cat Funeral."
• It's a bit of a stretch to call Castle good, but it is pretty fun. It's a laundry show: you can watch a few minutes, go get your whites, come back and fold them, and you probably haven't missed much. But it's always good to see Nathan Fillion get some work, so if you've got an extra hour on Monday night, give it a try. ABC, 9 p.m.
Also, baseball happened. I don't know who played, what the series is at, or anything at all about the games. I'm not your guy. But it's worth mentioning that baseball might wind up jacking with Fox's schedule, so for anyone else watching Fringe, there's a chance it might be pre-empted Thursday for the game. Just so's you know.
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