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Wednesday/Thursday Notes (Updated)

By admin Published: September 16, 2009

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary has died. NY Times obit is here. She had a memorable voice, and, with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, she was a great ambassador for folk music and singer-songwriters. I'll mention just one favorite: their cover of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," where she gave it longing and sadness from the beginning; although I'm generally a believer that singer-songwriters do their work best, in this case PPM trumps Denver.

Watched tonight's "Glee" (a show that has used "Leaving on a Jet Plane," by the way) and it was the weakest of the four episodes I've seen so far -- three that have aired, plus next week's. The plot didn't quite work, although the musical numbers were amusing enough. And the showiest piece, of "Bust Your Windows," was not a surprise because Fox had already made it available as a music video. Oh, well. I feel the need to invoke the Dick Wolf Principle, which says that in any given season, one third of a series' episodes are good, one third awful and one third so-so. This was not one of the good ones. But next week's is.

I had hoped to write some longer thoughts about Big Thursday, where a ton of shows are premiering. But time has been short today, and tomorrow isn't much better. So a few notes here on some things I've seen:

"Community," NBC, see it. Funny start and it gets funnier. (The second episode is not only hilarious, it manages to give all the characters a chance to amuse.) A fun blend of insane humor and real heart, Joel McHale heads an effective ensemble -- and there's a line in next week's ep that I could not resist putting on my Facebook page.

The season premiere of "The Office": A very odd start, one of those times when Michael seems like a 2-year-old, and he -- and we as viewers -- should have moved beyond that. Say, to his being a 10-year-old. That said, once the opening sets up the premise for the rest of the show, which involves office rumors, it gets more and more hysterical, and hilarious. It's also a showcase for everyone -- Andy has a key subplot, Creed gets a great Creed line, Angela is Angela, Jim and Pam are really becoming a dynamic duo, and so on.

"Parks and Recreation," back after an uneven first season, gets off to a very good start, partly because there's a funny premise (involving a promotion for the Pawnee Zoo, and a couple of penguins) and because it's letting Amy Poehler really cut loose. I'll be back for more.

"Bones" gets off to a nice seasonal start, dealing not only with a mystery but Booth's return to work. Many, many things set in motion with the characters, and it's consistently entertaining. I won't pretend that "Bones" is an all-time great, but it is a solidly constructed and well-acted show, and I'm glad to have it back.

Thursday AM addendum: The actor Henry Gibson has died. Obit here. If you're of a certain age, you remember him for his poetry segments on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." But as memorable as he was there, he was also accomplished in other venues. Check out his marvelous performance (and singing) in Robert Altman's "Nashville" as a cunning country-music legend. He was also a fiercely smart man, as I discovered when I interviewed him many year ago. He made a mark.

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