Thursday nights are once again crowded with "must see TV" -- and not just on NBC. So I'm starting a new feature called "Friday Morning Quarterback" here on I Hate My DVR. Every Friday morning I'll do a brief writeup and review of shows I watched the night before, including FlashForward, Fringe, the Office, 30 Rock, Survivor, and Parks and Recreation. There will be spoilers about what happened, so consider yourself forewarned.
FLASHFORWARD: I've made no secret of my growing displeasure with this show. The departure of show runner Marc Guggenheim was unfortunate but probably necessary. Last night's installment continued the annoying pattern of ending every episode with a cliffhanger. I was also a little perplexed by the Russian roulette "test" for entry to the Blue Hand party -- what exactly was that supposed to prove? But I couldn't help being moved by Gough's desperate attempt to change the future by killing himself. I think the message is that the future depicted in the flashforwards can be changed, but only with great effort and sacrifice.
FRINGE: One of my favorite shows returns from the break with a decent installment in the X-Files vein. But the show is at its best, in my opinion, when advancing the main story arc. I think it was a mistake to end the hiatus with an episode that ignored the mythology of the show. I understand why they did it -- serialized stories can be tough for audiences to follow. The procedural episodes are for more casual viewers. Still, Fringe's ratings have been dropping like a rock since moving to Thursday nights. I wonder if the writers misread the situation and have been feeding fans the opposite of what they really want.
THE OFFICE: Well, that was fast! Michael dated Pam's mom for all of two episodes. I have mixed feelings about the rapid demise of their relationship. On the one hand, I loved last week's effort and think Linda Purl is one very sexy lady. It seemed like they could have milked a little more humor from the situation. On the other hand, I didn't love last night's episode. The B storyline, involving Dwight and Andy's attempts to out-favor each other, elicited some chuckles. But Michael's behavior at lunch was just stupid, and I hate it when they make him a one-dimensional dummy.
30 ROCK: Is 30-Rock the funniest comedy on network television? I laugh harder at South Park, and have heard amazing things about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but those are cable shows. At one time, I would have answered the Office, without hesitation. These days, however, I can't think of another comedy on the "big four" that so consistently tickles my funny bone. I'm stating the obvious when I say the key to the show's success continues to be Alex Baldwin -- last night's storyline involving Jack's bedbugs was hilarious. But Tracey and Jenna are starting to annoy me with their B storylines. Bring back Jackie Jomp Jomp!
SURVIVOR: I'm a huge fan of reality television shows, and Survivor is the oldest and greatest of them all. The gorgeous high-definition shots of Samoan scenery are the main reason I DVR the show instead of watching it on-line. But this season's cast of women may be the hottest of all time. And two of the most attractive -- Monica and Natalie -- have defied expectations to survive until last night's merge. As an added bonus, Russell may be the best manipulator since Johnny Fairplay. Also, it was nice to see Jaison reassert himself after his lackluster effort the week before.
PARKS AND RECREATION: Ron has become one of my favorite characters on the show, and Megan Mullally was great as one of his (ex) Tammys. Unfortunately, I think her role is temporary, and Leslie needs a more permanent adversary to generate tension. Greg Pikitis seems like a move in this direction, but the rival really needs to be someone else in local government.
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