Friday, January 19, 2007

TV Chatter and Waters on 'Earl'

Starting this week, Monday will probably take over as my favorite night of TV viewing. It's pretty tough to beat the adrenaline rush triple shot of '24' (last week's nuke attack slapped the wuss right out of Jack Bauer and sucked him back into the war on everybody), 'Prison Break' (the show might be centered around Michael and Lincoln, but I'd watch a whole show of nothing but the amazing T-Bag), and 'Heroes' (simply the best show on television, network or cable, period).

But I have to hand it to NBC for finally getting back to basics with their Thursday night lineup. As recently as the start of this season their solid block of comedies -- 'My Name is Earl', 'The Office', 'Scrubs' and '30 Rock' -- were spread all over the schedule forcing me to timeshift my viewing habits to make my own comedy night. Now they've saved me the trouble by putting all of these shows back-to-back (squared) on one night.

And while 'Earl' and 'Scrubs' can be hit or miss and the latter's musical episode was far better than I anticipated, 'The Office' and '30 Rock' are in a class by themselves. Kudos to 'The Office' for integrating new characters and then figuring out a way to whittle them down over time so that we're left with the core members of the Dunder Mifflin team. (Jim's realization last night that he missed Dwight -- "Congratulations universe, you won" -- was both sweet and hysterical.)

As for '30 Rock', I'm just glad the whole world -- or at least the people who take the time to tune in each week -- are getting the chance to enjoy Alec Baldwin's brilliant turn as NBC honcho Jack Donaghy. I loved last night's episode, especially the scenes of Kenneth the page dealing with the Brian Williams aftermath, but it's Baldwin (and to an extent Tracy Morgan) who gives the show its comic zing.

Before I forget and get back to work, John Waters turned up on 'My Name is Earl' last night as a funeral home director. He's only in the show for a couple minutes but got the biggest laughs of the episode (at least in our house) thanks to delivering his lines in pure Waters fashion. You can watch the entire episode at NBC's web site. I think Waters turns up in the second segment.

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