Tag: NBC

An Open Love Letter to Ron Swanson

There are so many things to love about Parks and Recreation – whip-smart writing, making mundane local politics hilarious, opening the second season with earnest (and super-square) heroine Leslie Knope giving a passionate rendition of the classic Fresh Prince song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” – but the crown jewels of the show are its each-one-more-hilarious-than-the-next cast of characters. I credit the writers and producers with taking such care to respect and flesh out all the players, each one contributing their own little piece to the ensemble’s whole: Amy Poehler‘s Leslie is the heart, Aziz Ansari‘s Tom Haverford the creative energy, Chris Pratt‘s sweet but dim Andy Dwyer the childlike enthusiasm. Throughout its three seasons all have had moments to shine, but none has done so more brightly than my current character crush Ron Swanson, the stomach of the show.

Case in point, I give you his journal dedicated to meat. Inspired.

Brilliantly played by Nick Offerman, on the surface Ron is a man of simple pleasures: breakfast foods, pretty brunettes, facial hair, woodworking, no BS. He’s a man who just wants a hearty meal and for the government to stay out of his business, and here’s where the beauty in the depth of this character begins: government is his business as he’s Director of the Parks Department. But that doesn’t stop this city servant from making sure no parks are ever built during his tenure and imparting a strong opinion on how existing ones should all be sold to corporations with impressive business models, a la Chuck E Cheese. He’ll even go so far as to influence future generations with his staunch libertarian outlook. This overall brusque demeanor shouldn’t make him so endearing, and yet he is the most cuddly curmudgeon on television.

Even his self-proclaimed Pyramid of Greatness makes me want to hug him closer. How could someone who emulates volatile college basketball coach Bobby Knight bring out the smit in me?

Perhaps he’s so easy to love because underneath that burly gruffness beats the heart of a romantic. He looks out for those he cares for (although he would never admit it outright), so noticeable when he patched up the relationship between his sullen assistant April and the lovelorn Andy and defended Leslie to a board of review threatening to fire her. It could also be the way he handles a saxophone moonlighting as Duke Silver.

Then again, it’s mostly his love of keeping meat real.

As the July 14th announcement of Emmy nominations approaches, I can only hope the protein gods will smile down and ensure that Nick Offerman’s name is on the list of Best Supporting Actors in a Comedy. For how can I live in a world where the man who brought us this is not recognized for his own piece of greatness?

Spotlight on: Donald Glover

Thanks goes out to one of my faves in the blogosphere, Wacky (he of Wacky on the Junk, who commands not only my utmost respect in music selections but also television choices), for bringing to my attention this New York Times article on Community‘s Donald Glover. While seeming little more than the token black guy in the misfit cast of community college characters, his comic talent has elevated the easy-to-write-off-as-a-one-dimensional-jock Troy to hilarious heights. Of particular note are the coda moments he’s created with Danny Pudi capping off each episode of the Thursday night NBC hit. Not only has his part in these comedic gems caused me to sit up and take notice of his skill, after learning that his professional pedigree includes a two-year tenure on the writing staff of 30 Rock this rising star has earned much admiration from this faithful funny follower.

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Repeat Doldrums, or How I Spent My Holiday Vacation Evaluating 2009 and Sizing Up 2010 – NBC

Hello again gentlereaders. No, I didn’t forget about you these past two months, please blame my absence on the most hectic (wonderful?) time of the year. Now that the holiday season has passed, including the glut of repeats that come with it, I am back and focused as ever to comment, critique and celebrate the best of what’s to come in 2010 television. The musings are too much so I must make this a multi-part post.


I’ve made no secret of the insane amount of love I have for comedies, particularly the perfectly programmed 2-hour block on NBC’s Thursday night. While the Peacock appears to be making all the wrong moves in late night (the incomparable Conan in limbo and bland Leno is back, no words) they’ve at least made impeccable choices when it comes to scheduling the primetime funny this season.

Vets The Office and 30 Rock had some of their strongest episodes of their series’ histories – Jim & Pam’s wedding will go down in the annals of TV moments and “Dealbreakers Talk Show No. 0001″ not only gave us crazy Performer Liz who forgot how to wave like a person, we were treated to how HD alters the Rockers – Kenneth is a Muppet and Jack a young Alec Baldwin, classic.

Parks & Recreation became so enjoyable as its second season progressed that I found myself not just choosing it first among my DVR viewing selections the next day but actually watching it in real time! And even though newbie Community had some ups and downs, its ups (Senor Chang’s always quotable lines – “Hasta luego! Come on, hands 90% of spanish!”) far outweighed the downs.

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New episodes of all CNDR shows return this week, save for The Office (which is open for business again January 21st) but with an extra 30 Rock there’s no complaint from this Fey-natic, and we’ve got guest stars galore – Jack Black wandering around the Greendale campus on Community, Will Arnett romancing real-life wife Amy Poehler on P&R and James Franco stopping by as “himself” for an arranged celebrilationship with Jenna on 30 Rock.

Most Improved Show: Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation, NBC Thursdays 8:30/7:30c

Not that I’d go so far as to call its first season a total disappointment, NBC’s Parks and Recreation did come out of the gate rather weak earlier this year with only a pedigree of being led by the minds behind fellow Comedy Night Done Right hit The Office and lead Amy Poehler to keep me hopeful that the excellent creative potential would eventually shine. And it was the second season premiere episode, “Pawnee Zoo” that was so glorious I revisited no less than half a dozen times.

I should have expected that as it was modeled so closely to its predecessor (right down to the hand-held mockumentary feel) P&R would also follow in the footsteps of The Office and finally hit a side-splitting stride in their second year. The show is truly firing on all cylinders – the writing, dialogue, pace and team of actors have all found a great comedy groove that continues to impress every week. So impressive that it was one of only a handful of shows given a coveted full season pick-up earlier this month.

What do we have to look forward to in their sophomore season? On the near horizon a November sweeps installment will feature a guest turn by former Will & Grace star Megan Mullally in what show runner Michael Schur claims as “the best episode we’ve ever done.” Mullally will play ex-wife opposite real-life husband Nick Offerman’s Parks & Rec department boss Ron. “She works for the library system, and they’re trying to take over the lot that Leslie is jealously guarding for her future park,” Schur explains. “So Ron has to get back involved with his ex-wife and fireworks ensue.”

Fall Premieres – Something for Everyone on Humpday

We’re halfway through a heady premiere week and Wednesday brings almost as many series premieres as season premieres. ABC, the network that continued to give us According to Jim even after we kept repeatedly screaming “Uncle!” tries to get back into the comedy game with two new laffers (one I’ve got more faith in than the other, even with the clout of a former Friend) and what might be a laughable attempt at offering a “new” adaptation of a story we’ve already seen twenty years ago in book and movie form. CBS has an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude with its unchanged midweek line-up. NBC gives us something old and something new.

Arresting Possibilities

Modern FamilyIt’s been some time since ABC has made me laugh (in a non-scoffing way) and it seems to have redeemed itself with half-hour comedy Modern Family, which I am giving the highest TVOYOT honor –  an immediate Season Pass. The variety of clips seen in their ads have all provided decent chuckles and a few hearty laughs, which I always take as a good sign that it won’t be one-note. On the surface Family seemed a bit mediocre, average at best (although seeing Ed O’Neill again on a weekly basis in a role that seems like an aging Al Bundy was an intriguing concept). While not being outwardly obvious in its dysfunctional humor, upon further inspection the tone bears a striking resemblance to that of the amazing Arrested Development and the characters as well-developed as the Bluth clan.

And Rebecca Romijn as Cher?

I will admit to being morbidly curious as to how a new vision of The Witches of Eastwick(always an enjoyable repeat viewing, who can resist Nicholson mugging as the devil opposite top-of-their-game Cher and Susan Sarandon)will play as a series. The fact that the first attempt just a few years after the movie was a hit (circa 1987) never took off, classified on IMDb as an “unsold pilot,” is a prime indication that Eastwick might not be long for the television world. Seems like the alphabet network slapped this one together quickly to cash in on the supernatural craze with this yawn-worthy Lipstick Witchcraft Mafia.

Worth a Season Commitment

  • 9/8c – Modern Family, ABC (series premiere)

Checking Out Once (Expect to Be Checking Out Quickly)

  • 9:30/8:30c – Cougar Town, ABC (series premiere)
  • 10/9c – Eastwick, ABC (series premiere)

Not For Me Before, Not For Me Now

  • 8/7c – New Adventures of Old Christine, CBS
  • 8:30/7:30c – Gary Unmarried, CBS
  • 8/7c – Mercy, NBC (series premiere)
  • 9/8c – Criminal Minds, CBS
  • 9/8c – Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC
  • 10/9c – CSI: NY, CBS