The evening’s winners: Batman and Catherine Tate.
“30 Rock”: “The Tuxedo Begins”
Liz has definitely gone cray cray, but I can’t fault her for going full-Joker in this Batman parody. It’s only natural for someone who loves rules to unravel in a city filled with disgruntled rule-breakers, where even middle class citizens wielding Eddie Bauer knives mug 1 percenters. Her downward spiral nicely mirrored Jenna and Paul’s discovery that they’re more normal than they realized, and it’s always great to have Will Forte around. It was also nice to see Steve Buscemi, who directed this episode, back as Lenny; his role on “Boardwalk Empire” almost made me forget he’s hilarious. Back to Liz: Here’s hoping her bag lady adventures were a one-off, though. She can keep the underwear, but she needs to move on and focus on the premiere of “The Hunger Games.”
“Parks and Recreation”: “Dave Returns”
Oh, Louis C.K. His bumbling Dave is so adorable. And while I love Ben, I still miss Dave and Leslie’s romantical involvement. Tom and Ann’s may be the most interesting relationship, however; if he can drop his act long enough to be serious, he may just be datable. But not too serious. And not without Jean-Ralphio at his side. The man who upstaged everyone, though, was Duke Silver, that saxophone legend who makes mature women swoon. It’s been far too long since we’ve seen that side of Ron — maybe he can come out of the closet for one of Leslie’s campaign events? As long as they don’t try to pull the “Chris can’t sing” joke again.
“The Office”: “Tallahassee”
Easily one of my favorite cold opens of the series, from Ryan’s confusion concerning Erin to Jim’s hotel room prank. All of our Florida players were in fine form — That Bitch Kathy didn’t try anything with Jim — and Catherine Tate’s turn as special projects president Nellie was glorious. The bits back in Scranton weren’t a strong, although it was nice seeing Andy back to being himself instead of a Michael wannabe. But the Tallahassee plotline seems promising, with David Koechner back as Todd Packer and Stanley letting loose and inspiring Jim with his rum-soaked ways. Now if only Kathy could fall off a balcony or something …
“Up All Night”: “Travel Day”
Babies on airplanes really are the worst, but I think even I could forgive a crying brat if her father gave a little speech like
WillChris. “Up All Night” has an uphill battle of taking topics related to couples, families and child-rearing and making them not only funny but unique — more than typical sitcom fare. The show is definitely succeeding thanks to Arnett and Applegate’s chemistry and by putting the focus on their characters as people first, parents second. Chris and Reagan’s trials at the airport stemmed from their personalities and issues; the baby in the mix just made things more hectic. It’s a smart way to go about things. The Ava-Kevin marriage fears bit wasn’t as original, but we’ll forgive it. Ava is, you know, half of the Simon and Garfunkel (or is it the Lennon and McCartney?) of hip hop.
Sarah Carlson also writes for Irish Arguments Weekly, America’s only all-caps magazine.