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September 26, 2011 / mandalaymai

The Old, The New and the Slightly Disappointing

"It's not what you think."

OK, we have week one done.  And it took me a while to get through both DVR’s.  To go through my first tier of shows, then the second, then the filler and then the new stuff.  I’m not gonna lie; there are still some things on my DVR that I haven’t gotten to and some things that I haven’t gotten through.  But, here I go anyway with the Old, the New, the Good, the Bad and the Slightly Disappointing.  Fair warning – spoilers lie ahead.

THE OLD

My favorite returning shows are back!  Including The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Modern Family and most importantly, Parks and Recreation.  I was worried that Big Bang was going to go into a whole awkward shark-jumping downward spiral when Raj and Penny woke up in bed together at the end of last season.  But, I was surprised at how quickly the show seemed to move past it.  There really wasn’t a whole lot of mooning by Leonard (which I was particularly NOT looking forward too) Instead we got a great bit of comedy where Leonard has to try to get Sheldon to understand that despite what Penny may have said, she and Raj did actually sleep together.  Because I am a Penny-Leonard  ‘shipper at heart, I am kind of glad that they didn’t actually sleep together and I thought what actually happened was pretty hysterical.  The show was also fairly balanced, using all the members of the ensemble to great effect.  It was nice to be with our nerd buddies engaging in new shenanigans.  The thing with Raj and Howard virtual kissing was so bizarre.  I have no words.  Plus a new spin on *Knock! Knock! Knock!* “Penny!”  I loved her responses, “What’s the word, hummingbird?  What’s up, buttercup? What’s the gist, physicist?”

How I Met Your Mother was by contrast, kind of disappointing.  I didn’t think the story was all that interesting, and the jokes were kind of tired.  Barney trying increasingly bizarre stratagems to lure out of town women? AGAIN?  (Though I did like the idea that he workshops his material out of town…)  Robin likes him? AGAIN?  Lily is the one who sees through everyone and knows what Robin is feeling? AGAIN?  I liked the parallel of both husbands in the story “drinking for two” to cover for their pregnant (but not out about it yet) wives.  Plus, I know it was meant to be funny, but I got kind of irritated with the voiceover’s wink-wink nudge-nudge joke about being nowhere near the end of the story.  Also, the show has pretty much taken all the mileage they can out of the limited footage they have of those kids staring blankly at their dad.  A funnier thing would have been getting those two actors back because they are so much older now and just having them on the couch.  And I kind of knew it would be like this.  I sort of groaned when the show got renewed through next season.  Because all they can do now is SLOW DOWN and RECYCLE until we get the run-up to the end. 

Modern Family had a great start to the third season.  I like that however the Emmys turned out (and Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell really deserved their wins) they knew that the show works best when you throw all the nuts together and see what happens.  So taking them to a dude ranch was a great device and gave them lots of fodder.  I like that we saw a different side of Phil Dunphy and a somewhat insecure Jay.  I loved that Dylan was back, and his storyline was great, too.  For Cam and Mitchell, I loved the second half much better.  It was them at their best, with Cam being over the top (the pop up book was ridiculous) and Mitchell jumping from premature conclusions into a river of self-blame.  I’m kinda freaked out that Lily is talking now.  She had some good lines though.

The Office kind of surprised me.  I had read that James Spader was joining The Office so I thought, “OK, he’s the new boss.”  Then I kept seeing those commercials about James Spader joining The Office AND we would find out who the new boss was.  I thought, “why are they putting it like that?  Who are they fooling?”  So, to me at least, it was kind of surprising when the office hierarchy turned out the way that it did.  I kind of like Andy in that spot.  His natural inclination is to be accomodating and supportive and you can see that in this episode, especially when he sticks up for his staff.  Andy has always been a kiss-ass, so what happens when he’s at the top of the food chain?  Is James Spader going to be in every episode to give Andy an authority figure to curry praise from?  or will his absense make Andy despotic?  It will be interesting to see how the politics of this shake out, because I am more than sure that different factions in the office will try to manipulate him.  I am especially looking forward to Ryan’s next move.  That surprises me because Ryan has been a fringe character of late and now with Michael gone, no one especially cares that he sticks around.  Angela and Dwight will also try to manipulate Andy.  Hmmm…..this could be interesting.  And while I wasn’t overwhelmed with laughter at this first episode there were lots of things I did find funny and like I said above, lots of things set up for the future.  Plus, once again I found myself saying, “I need a Jim Halpert of my very own,” when Pam picked up that list he made.  SIGH……

Parks and Recreation was easily the show to which I was most looking forward.  And I was so happy to have it back that I would have

"You always make campaign speeches in your sleep. They just got really specific."

taken anything and loved it.  I am happy to say that I didn’t have to work hard to love it.  I might want a Ben almost as much as I want a Jim Halpert.  He is too freakin’ cute.  I loved the penis storyline with Ann and Chris and the guy from Sewage (“Your Inbox is LIT’RALLY filled with penises.”)  I hope that the Sewage guy isn’t gone forever.  It’s Pawnee though, so I know he won’t be.  The April, Andy and Tom stuff was funny, mostly the scene where Andy is getting advice from April.  And I liked April’s posturing in Ron’s absence.  Basically she stood in the doorway sipping coffee from a mug (seriously look at how may times she is drinking coffee from a mug, not an iced coffee through a straw or a latte with a sippy top, but even the paper coffee cup has handles that make it a mug so that it’s more Ron-like) and seemed to radiate Ron-like authority.  April is scary, in a good way.  I do want them to find better ways of bringing Tom into the mix.  And if they are keeping him outside the mix, at least bring back Jean-Ralphio to play with him.  All in all, I loved the ep and am very excited to see how the things they set up pan out over the season.  But, as a stand-alone, I worry that it wasn’t an out of the ballpark episode.  For a show that seems always on the verge of getting the ax, that makes me nervous.

THE NEW

I gotta say I tried, I really tried.  I could not actually get through Whitney or Up All Night.  The Up All Night thing really bummed me out because I like Will Arnett, Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph.  I am going to finish that episode and try to watch this week’s also.  We’ll see.  Fingers crossed.  I don’t think I am going to make another attempt with Whitney.  Just…no.  I watched Free Agents and I am sad to say that it didn’t blow me out of the water.  Maybe all these will get their footing, but these days shows don’t get a lot of time to get it right.  I really did enjoy Two Broke Girls.  I was worried from the previews that it would be a little too cutesy for me.  I like Kat Dennings, but if all you have her doing is being Darlene from Roseanne, 2.0 then it could get old.  And if it’s a constant barrage of picking on the entitled princess who is a fish out of water, then that will get old also.  But they actually gave these girls some layers, some shading so there is a lot to take from in the future.  The princess’s backstory as the disgraced daughter of a Bernie Madoff type of crook is interesting, as is her assertion that she actually has business smarts (but Wharton?  Seriously?  Was she on the Elle Woods track there?).  Also, seeing Kat Dennings flaws and blind spots makes her a more likeable character.  This is one I am looking forward to watching again.

OK, that’s enough for now.  I will be back with the hour-long shows shortly.  Plus, I haven’t watched The New Girl with Zooey Deschanel or Community yet.  Now, let me go.  The Good Wife is on….

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