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Thursday Notebook: "Glee," "Modern Family," More

By admin Published: November 19, 2009

After the jump, notes on last night's "Glee" and "Modern Family," Monday's "How I Met Your Mother" and on last week's "Parks and Recreation" and "30 Rock."

This week's mailbag is here.

Another good "Glee" in musical terms -- especially liked the mashup of "Young Girl" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me" -- but iffy in storytelling. Quinn's parents may be slow on the uptake (and quick with the highball glass) but it's still implausible that they had been in the dark about her pregnancy for so long. I know, Mom (Charlotte Ross) supposedly knew but had said nothing, but Dad (Gregg Henry, slimy as ever) seems like someone who would be wired in the community, and who would have had more questions about Quinn leaving the Cheerios. And Puck's role as the secret baby daddy gets less and less secret, so you would think word would have reached Finn by now.

Considering this show is set in Ohio (nice Ohio Stadium poster in Finn's room), I would have expected more of a nod to the Pretenders' NE Ohio roots. And "Lean on Me," though reasonably well done, is a cliche -- which, I guess, you could defend because these are kids who wouldn't see it as cliched -- and one that could have used more Club Nouveau in the mix.

Also, in one of those moments where it seems as if writers are all drinking the same water, this week's "Two and a Half Men" also used the device of character-thought-voiceovers during dialogue, and in fact used it somewhat better. (Puck, though, would fit right in over at "Men.")

On the other hand, the Rachel-crush storyline made me laugh more than once, especially in the uneasiness running through the "Endless Love" performance. And the payoff to the Quinn-Finn story was pretty well done.

All that being said, "Modern Family" completely ruled. What more can I say about the joys of a show that in half an hour offers "True," "The Gunfighter," Edward Norton, Elizabeth Banks, the creepy-funny baby-jealousy plot, and a super performance by Ed O'Neill? Even if other, less-known actors could have done just as well as the promotable Banks and Norton, both played their parts to the hilt, and Banks once again shows how you can be funny and terrifying simultaneously. Loving this show.

I wanted to go back to the CBS Monday comedies for several reasons. I mentioned the "Men"-"Glee" connection. And in my weekly vidcast, I paid homage to Kaley Cuoco of "Big Bang Theory" for the very good work she is doing in a show that focuses more on the guys; this week, her interaction with Sheldon was far more entertaining than the -- talk about a cliche -- accidental-stoner plot (although that had some laughs, too).

But I especially wanted to key in on "How I Met Your Mother" because I found the payoff to the episode so unpleasant. The whole business with the Playbook was funny, yes. But when it becomes clear that Robin is unhappy over Barney's renewed womanizing, it takes something away from Barney to have that just be part of his total scam. Barney plays the jerk, but he's not really one, and the idea that he would carefreely hurt Robin is wrong. And having her get a thrill from her new co-anchor doesn't mitigate that.

Going back to last Thursday, I've already noted my enjoyment of "The Office" and "Community." "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation" did just fine, too. I like the way there's an emotional current in Jack-Liz, and that Jack's zapping Liz was not so much about business as about his feelings being hurt, without that being pounded into our heads; it looks as if they could have more fun with the new "TGS" cast member, and I was very amused by the new hints that Kenneth is Not That He Seems. (And we now know that his hometown is not entirely What It Seemed.) "Parks and Recreation" is on a nice roll, although the shoeshine story was much funnier than the "murinal" one.

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