Thursday night, over the past few years of TV, has been the highlight of the week for me. My Name is Earl, The Office, 30 Rock, CSI and Ugly Betty fall on that evening and put my DVR into overdrive and my weekend into couch potato heaven catching up on the Thursday night manna.
Earl, Ugly Betty and The Office all premiered last week and because of the onslaught of the other new TV, I just caught up on these shows earlier this week. So, our fair readers, here is my take on the big three.
Earl is on the edge of coming off series recording status on the DVR. I stuck with it last year even though I didn’t care for his stint in prison or his time in the coma. Looking back, my take is that the show jumped the shark when he went to prison. I should have probably stopped watching then. The premiere this season didn’t bring me any closer to coming back into the Earl fold. There are a lot of aspects going awry on the show, but one of the simple missteps (for me) is the marginalization of Darnell‘s presence on the show. In this past, his lines have been comedic throw-aways ala Arrested Development style. He’s a welcome breath of fresh air against the harshness of Joy, Earl and Randy. There are other things going wrong for me, but I’ll give it another few episodes this year to reverse the shark jump. My prediction: the show will run at least a few more seasons, but it may not find a home on my DVR for much longer.
Thursday night score: 0/1
The DVR smiled on me with Ugly Betty. This show is similar to Pushing Daisies for me – there is nothing like these two shows on Prime Time television right now. Intricate dramedic (dramatic/comedic) plots, solid acting, hilarious physical humor, lush visual settings and closure on developing story lines. I tend toward comedies with fairly large ensemble casts (The Office, Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock) and Ugly Betty orchestrates the ensemble convention extremely well. The premiere reminded me of all the things I love about UB. Betty’s choice between Henry and Gio was resolved. Daniel‘s eviction from Mode landed him at a more appropriate publication, where Betty finds herself a little out of place. The power struggle between Wilhemina and Alexis/Claire rages on, while Claire tries to find her niche with her new magazine, Hot Flash. Betty’s family situation is still in turmoil. Marc and Amanda are in full catty mode, feeling immense glee over Betty’s colossal failure at her new job. It’s all super Betty-tastic! My prediction: Betty is a mainstay in the ABC familia.
I’ve saved the best for last – The Office. Three words: JIM AND PAM. Three more words: ANGELA AND DWIGHT. The premiere was marvelously perfect. Quintessential Office. The show came into its own last season, in my opinion. The first season struggled to break out of the mold of its British parent. When the writers finally realized that Michael plays better as a naive goof rather than a mean-spirited nitwit, the show quickly warmed to American sensibilities. I loved the British Office and love the American version for very different reasons. But, what they share is that the true backbone of the show is the romantic relationship between Tim/Dawn and Jim/Pam. What happens around them is coincidental and often happens only to advance the bond between the leads. The show has succeeded, however, in developing those secondary characters so well that there no one is unnecessary in the group. Jim and Pam are the big story (holy shneikees – they’re finally engaged!), but I’m equally as entertained by the Angela/Dwight/Andy triangle, the Michael/Jan/Holly scenario, Stanley’s ongoing cynicism, Holly’s notion that Kevin is mentally challenged and the buttercream icing on the cake — Dwight’s fanatical buffoonery. Comedic gold. My fellow boob tube connoisseur Jim Deweese had the brilliant observation that the US Office has taken a huge leap with the Jim/Pam development – a leap that has frequently spelled small screen demise (Sam & Diane, Dave & Maddie, Mulder & Scully, Niles & Daphnie, Ross & Rachel, Alice & Sam). Jim Bag also asserted the idea of a Gareth/Dwight spinoff – a splendid thought that probably isn’t completely out of the realm of possiblity. I am sad that the Vice Presidential debate is tonight instead of another installment of this yummy squawk box goodness. My prediction: Dunder Mifflin is gold.
Final score: 2/3
Thanks to everyone who responded to our 2024 Predictions survey last month. While the sample size wasn’t quite the size of a Pew or Nielsen,