Notes on recent telecasts of "30 Rock," "The Office," "Private Practice," "Grey's Anatomy," "Saturday Night Live," "Bones," "Lie to Me" and "The Closer" after the jump. (I have also seen tonight's "Closer" and will make a brief non-spoiler comment about that.)
As I mentioned, some other commitments kept me from blogging lately. (Anyone want to read my Restoration Lit paper on "The Disabled Debauchee"?) But I did do some viewing, so here are the reactions:
"30 Rock," "Generalissimo." Although the episode was supposed to be of note because it marked the arrival of "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm as the latest love interest for Liz, the whole Jack-and-the-Spanish-soap plot was much funnier and better done, and Alec Baldwin proved once again what a gigantic comic genius he is in the soap scenes. (And I loved the snack endorsement.) Still not convinced that Salma Hayek is a good fit with the show, but this time she got by better, both in the scene where she meets Liz and the one where she describes her upcoming family events. As for Liz and the doctor, some funny things, especially when Liz went scheming-stalker with advice from the soap, but I feel as if we were mostly being set up for bigger laughs down the road. The Tracy/Wall Streeters plot wasn't that great, except for the payoff. Still, I laughed a lot and watched it twice.
"The Office," "Lecture Circuit." I thought the laughs weren't as big as on "30 Rock" but there were some nice things, especially the whole squirmy Michael-gives-advice story. Good use of Rashida Jones in a way that was unforced and even kind of nice. (That said, Pam seems to be getting stuck with the kind-of-nice storylines, and she's more interesting when they let her have an edge.) Andy in pursuit was all right, since they didn't push it too hard and it included my absolute favorite line of the night. As in Creed: "This is how I got Squeaky Fromme...."
"Grey's Anatomy"/"Private Practice": As I said in a previous post, I was confused most of the night because I was thinking these were THE GREATEST CROSSOVER EVENT SINCE CHRISTINE JORGENSEN or whatever ABC kept claiming in the promos and then what did we get? Addison calling Derek at the end of "Private Practice." Apparently if you read the fine print this was just the beginning of THE GREATEST CROSSOVER EVENT SINCE RONALD REAGAN WENT FROM DEMOCRAT TO REPUBLICAN, but even then the ABC promotion was misleading as all get out. Still, putting that aside, were the episodes all that interesting? Naw. I liked some of the old-fashioned-romance bits with Cristina on "Grey's." And on "Private Practice," Addison's worries about her brother finally let us see the old, tough, get-out-of-the-way Addison from her first appearances on "Grey's." I have missed her. More, please.
"Bones" was just weird, with Booth in jeopardy and hallucinating in a way that made it seem as if he had slipped accidentally into an episode of "Lost." A lot like an episode of "Lost." So a so-so episode, although it did move forward the connection between Booth and Bones.
"Lie to Me" is still just good enough to keep me watching, although not so much that I'm going, "Hey, 'Lie to Me' is on!" But this episode felt as if the core mystery could have been solved a lot more easily than it was, especially once they realized that the school principal (shout out to "Army Wives") was lying. Still, we got to see some of Tim Roth's family life, and got an answer to an intriguing question: If you can always tell if your kid is lying, do you bust her every time or let her make mistakes? But a bigger question possibly for future episodes is, what happens if the mistake you allow has terrible consequences?
"Saturday Night Live" was just a dud. Bradley Cooper was a game host and tried to make the sketches he was in work, but the sketches just weren't that good -- and some, including the Christian Bale bit, were just awful. Part of the problem may be -- as Cooper admitted -- that there aren't a lot of roles to hang on him. "Wedding Crashers" is the main thing I remember him for, and I remember him to a great extent as the least funny guy in the movie. Did laugh a little at the James Harrison bit, because Kenan Thompson sold it pretty well, but beyond that. Am hoping that Alec Baldwin will ride to the rescue when he hosts next -- although, from what I've read, Steve Martin didn't carry the day when he hosted a week ago.
I had forgotten to record last week's "Closer" so I caught up with it during a weekend rerun. Not a great episode, although I am usually entertained any time Brenda's parents are around. While the cast had fun with the girlfriend-who's-a-guy aspect of the episode, someone should have noticed the situation much, much sooner. "Closer" seems to have a real problem right now with ignoring the obvious. There's an aspect of tonight's telecast that will be clear to viewers long before it's apparent to the detectives, and that undercuts where things go.
I didn't watch all the Grammys, or even much of it, because I just don't find it all that interesting. Did catch Dwayne Johnson, whose attempt at comedy was terrible, and the last-minute Justin Timberlake/Al Green duet, which was fine but too often looked as if it had not been thoroughly planned out. On the other hand, Miley Cyrus -- seen in duet with Taylor Swift -- looks as if she never makes an uncalculate move onstage, including when she closes her eyes and waves her head. And the audio in the parts I saw was not good. Though Jennifer Hudson's "family in heaven" moment was quite touching. Did enjoy the Sugarland acceptance speech, which had a real and natural quality especially in the whole Paul McCartney thing. And was happy for the first win for Plant/Krauss (which was the only one I saw), although it would have been better if Krauss had gotten to say something.