Looking back: NBC sitcoms


Another season come and gone, and it’s time to take a look at some of the peaks and valleys of this memorable year for television.  We’ll start today with NBC’s three significant Thursday-night comedies, after the jump.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

This was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season.  This new mockumentary from the creators of The Office and starring the great Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, as well as some other fantastic folks, had a lot of promise, beyond the pedigree of its cast and crew.  It’s about a public works project in a small town trying to build a park where there’s an enormous pit, which is a good premise.  Unfortunately, the show too often had trouble being all that funny, and Leslie didn’t differentiate enough from the Michael Scott model of a bumbling, self-unaware leader.  That said, the supporting cast proved consistently funny, and the season finale was pretty good.  This is a show that I have really high hopes for next season – remember how much the first season of The Office sucked?  And the finale was a good indication that it can live up to those hopes.


Pam and Jim

The Office

TV’s best sitcom had its best year with the marvelous fifth season.  Season four started out sloppily with some unsavory hour-long episodes and a string of good-but-not great ones before production ended thanks to the writer’s strike.  When it returned in the spring, it had its most brilliant run of episodes yet, and it miraculously kept the momentum going all through this season.  The writers continued to do no wrong with the Jim-Pam romance, wisely casting aside outdated superstitions that getting a will-they-won’t-they couple together spells creative doom and in doing so creating one of TV’s most vibrant and endearing pairs.  Meanwhile, Michael Scott’s involvement with Holly Flax and later starting the Michael Scott Paper Company dialed down the character and made him more human, which is always a good thing with Michael.  Other characters remained their hilarious selves, and Amy Ryan (Holly) and Idris Elba (Charles Minor) made extremely welcome temporary additions.  The season finale’s final moment was one of the happiest of the series, and I look forward to seeing what this great writing staff cooks up for us in season six.



30 Rock

Last year’s Emmy-winner for Outstanding Comedy Series had a fairly disappointing, if hardly irredeemable, third season.  Early on, it relied too heavily on guest stars, always managing to find a humorous idea to build their appearance around, but failing to execute it well and successfully integrate them into the show.  And the quality quickly developed into a formula of sorts – episodes felt disjointed and unfulfilling, but were still loaded with great jokes.  The season’s homestretch saw a big improvement.  There weren’t exactly any classics, but the episodes were extremely funny and much more enjoyable than earlier in the year.  Still, I hope they get their stuff together next year, because this was definitely the worst season of 30 Rock yet.  It’s depressing to realize that the last truly classic episode of 30 Rock was the second season finale.  As long it stays as funny as it was near the end of this season, I won’t be terribly disappointed, but if it wants to win (or at least deserve) another Emmy, it had better get its act together, and stay low on the guest stars.


(For the record, the Radio Raheems aren’t gone, but scoring out of ten worked best for these reviews and the other “Looking Back” reviews I will be posting soon.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: