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"The Office"/"30 Rock"

By admin Published: May 2, 2008


Of anger management, sweeps and sandwiches, after the jump ...

Not a great night for either comedy, although I'd give a slight edge to "30 Rock." (Maybe "Earl" was good. I've been slower about watching it lately because the whole coma/sitcom plot left me cold. I know that it was wrapped up last week, but still didn't feel any need to lose sleep to catch up with it.)

"The Office" was interesting on paper, with three different elements involving anger: Michael's conflict with Stanley, Dwight's jealous determination to punish Andy and the Ryan/Toby alliance against Jim. But I kept feeling as if scenes were missing. Why wouldn't Michael have tried Daryl's suggestion for dealing with anger -- and didn't you want to see a fluffy-fingers fight? (Also, loved Daryl's listing of gangs ending with Newsies. He obviously likes to see how gullible Michael is, but when he got to Newsies it was so clear that Michael will buy anything that there was no point in going on. And what would be next anyway? Wild Hogs? Fordham Baldies?)

In the Dwight-Andy duel, I thought there should have been some kind of intercession by Angela. Yes, she likes having the guys fighting about her, but this was a situation involving money and I don't think Angela would have let Andy get so thoroughly snookered. Then again, as we saw with Mad Libs, Angela is just too darn happy these days.

So while there were good bits in the episode, such as the way the staff knew that Michael had been pushed too far -- and someone was going to pay -- followed by his private question to Stanley. But overall I've seen better episodes, even recently. This one felt more like they had to build something around plot elements they're planning for the remains of the season -- Dwight/Andy and Ryan/Toby/Jim in particular.

Obviously, "30 Rock" devoted a fair amount of time to setting up next week's season finale, with -- as the promo warned -- Jack working in Washington and Liz facing a big issue. And it pushed too hard for some jokes; the "Brady Bunch"/football/nose gag was a real reach. And even the drinking-with-the-Teamsters bit kind of drifted off; it was hard to imagine that the show wouldn't let the guys win, but the payoff was still kind of a letdown. Would have been much more interesting to see Jenna keep drinking. (And how about that reference to her drinking problem?) Even the Cleveland jokes weren't great. Why is it that nominally blue-collar towns are subjected to bowling alley jokes? I remember "The Odd Couple" dropping a similar gag about Buffalo 30-some years ago.

Still, Alec Baldwin playing Jack under pressure is almost as good as Jack triumphant. The stuff with his new boss was priceless in spots -- loved the bathroom door bit -- and Liz getting glammed up. But it wasn't as good as last week's show.

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