Twinkle Twinkle, Big Star: Scoring NBC's Thursday Night Comedies
SNL Primetime Election Special -- Maybe the secret to "Saturday Night Live" is making it a half-hour show. That way they cut all the filler skits, and leave only the best sketches. Last night's election special was surprisingly strong, even if Drunk Uncle went on way too long. The highlight was the opening skit, although it's fair to say that when Jason Sudeikis does his Romney impression, that will always be the highlight.
Seth Meyers' headline jokes were also strong, although I'm concerned that -- with only two days until the live broadcast -- he's not going to have enough material to fill "Weekend Update" this Saturday, which may mean a lot of segments. It's almost never good when "Weekend Update" is dominated by segments. (Grade: B)
Up All Night -- When we heard that the show would shift its focus from "The Ava Show" to more home stories, I never expected that "The Ava Show" would actually be cancelled. It was a great move on the showrunners' part to reconfigure the show's premise, freeing up both Chris and Reagan to spend more time with their kid, as the parenting storylines are the show's strongest suit. It also allows them to ditch Jennifer Hall and bring in Luka Jones as Reagan's little brother and Chris' new business partner. I'm a fan of the goofy but sensible Jones, and I really like the new direction of the show (though, who else was distracted by Will Arnett's freakish weight loss?)
Also, grown-up Amy is adorable. (Grade: B+)
The Office -- After years of stasis, "The Office" is finally moving forward again. Now in its last season, Jim can finally start to come back in parallel with his British counterpart, Tim Canterbury, who hated the idea that he'd be working for a paper company all of his life. Jim is too good for Dunder Mifflin, and with him going to Philly, we may get some tension in he and Pam's relationship again (plus, it allows John Krasinski to meet his feature film obligations). Dwight, of course, couldn't be the father of Angela's kid because Dwight is headed toward his own "The Office" spin-off. Nellie is also a much more likable character as the bullied employee rather than the bullying employer (and it allows Andy to grow some testicles). The most exciting plot development to me, however, is the fact that Oscar is sleeping with Angela's boyfriend. It's almost too heavy for "The Office," but now that Greg Daniels has returned, he may actually be able to right "The Office" ship through the final season.
I have to say, though, that my favorite part of last night's episode was the slackline. (Grade: B+)
Parks and Recreation -- It's always a smart idea to kick off the season with a Swanson-centered episode, and in that respect, "Parks" didn't disappoint. I'm a little unsure of the D.C. subplot because it takes too much focus away from Pawnee, and I'm not ready to suffer any tension in Leslie and Ben's relationship yet. However, it took all of 15 seconds to remind me why I once thought a lot of John McCain. As good as Ron Swanson and his meat BBQ was, however, I actually thought that Ann and Tom's secret break-up actually stole the show last night. They're an adorable non-couple.