The Best Shows on TV

TV’s Moments of Joy: Jon He Does It

Happy Friday! Did you guys enjoy Premiere Week? We think it’s the happiest week of the year, even if our poor, herniated DVR’s disagree. Actually, there’s a whole batch of shows we haven’t even found time to watch yet. We’re all excited about Boardwalk Empire and Hawaii Five-O, and we’re going to be watching them as soon as possible.
Do you want to see something great? Well, our good friend Larry Young made himself a Dharma spacesuit, and it is a thing of beauty. You should really check it out on his site, and read his essay about fan fiction, which also provides an in-universe justification for the Dharma Darkside Station. It’s really great, and it will leave you convinced that your Halloween costume is woefully inadequate.
So, what made us happy this week? Let’s take a look!Community – The season premiere brought us Betty White wielding a crossbow. We’re pretty sure that’s the only thing she hadn’t done in her career up to this point. We always love the meta-references on this show, and they didn’t disappoint. Whether it was Abed planning to make this year even better than the first with more self-contained stories “like paintball” or Troy’s Spider-Man pajamas (based on this summer’s Facebook campaign for Sony to hire Donald Glover as the new Peter Parker), the whole episode was clever and fun. We also got to see Senor Chang in full Gollum mode, and the episode’s tag featured Betty rapping with Abed and Troy, before it turned into a performance of Toto’s “Africa”. Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Our high opinion of Batman is well-documented, and this series, while presenting a lighter take than we usually favor, is a blast. This week began a two-parter in which a giant starfish from space enslaved Earth. Only Batman and a motley crew of heroes stood in the way. All sorts of goofy characters made cameos, including the famously weird Ultra the Multi-Alien. And, you know, it’s a show where Batman fought a faceless alien while his friends killed space starfish with magic lightning. You can’t deny how awesome that is.
Raising Hope – “This might be a stupid question, but I’m trying to get strained vegetables and all of the jars have pictures of Black or Asian babies. Does that mean that it’s only for them?” Yes, the premiere of the new show from My Name is Earl creator Greg Garcia was uneven, but when it was funny, it was really funny. If this show gets its footing, it’s going to be pretty great. “I threw up on the baby.” Yeah, we laughed way too hard at that.
Delocated – We love Adult Swim’s reality spoof anyway, but over the last two episodes, it’s really become something special. The Russian Mafia executed Jon’s parents, which gave some actual emotion to the show, and that is something we didn’t expect at all. Of course, being Jon, he channeled his grief into a bizarre and obscene piece of performance art at the Witness Protection Talent Show. We all grieve in our own ways. In the most recent episode, Jon got obsessed with starting his own prank show, marking the first time in history that somebody was inspired by Howie Do It. (And of course, Jon didn’t get the pun, so he called his show Jon He Does It.) Of special note this week was the great Jerry Minor, who’s best known for Mr. Show and for being really funny on short-lived series like Lucky Louie and Carpoolers. He joined the cast this season playing Jon’s producer, Mighty Joe John, the Black Blond. And yes, that’s how he introduces himself.
30 Rock – We wish Matt Damon could be on this show forever. He returned for the premier as Liz’s possible soul mate (or in 30 Rock parlance, “pube shirt”), Carol. The man is funny. Of course, he didn’t hog all of the laughs – we loved Jenna as TGS’s new producer, and the running joke about Liz’s blazer. Oh, and as always, every Tracy line was gold. Life is always better when 30 Rock is in season.
The O’Reilly Factor–Oh, that’s not a typo. Jon Stewart was a guest on The Factor, and we actually enjoy when these two media titans get together. They don’t agree on much, but they also never resort to shouting each other down to make a point. It’s refreshing to see two people who fall on opposite sides of most political arguments have a civil discourse, something that’s missing from almost all political debate in 2010. The best exchange in this round? Jon called Bill the most left wing guy on FOX News. Bill countered with the silly question, “Who’s the conservative at Comedy Central?” Jon was amused, and came up with the best answer ever, “Cartman?”
House – Oh, where do we even begin? You can forget about your young vampires or secretly pining detectives, because House and Cuddy are the hottest couple on TV. The two characters are so sharply-written and well-defined that their new relationship actually means something, and their chemistry is just amazing. We’re watching adults start a new relationship, and it’s not something you often see on TV. The season premiere was excellent, and they even had a new take on the series’ weekly medical mysteries.
Modern Family – It’s back! This whole episode was made of Moments of Joy, whether it was Phil’s thought process playing out in his mnemonic devices, the jar of sunshine, Cam’s “If there is an accident, I hope it kills me. I don’t think I’d make a very inspiring disabled person”, or “That bookshelf was my Vietnam, and I was in Vietnam”, the whole episode was laugh-out-loud funny. And we didn’t think we could love Sofia Vergara more than we all do, but her saying “Shia LaBeouf” was just about the greatest thing we’ve ever heard.
Mad Men – “She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor or a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.” Farewell, Miss Blankenship. You gave this season some of its best jokes, and your death resulted in one of the all-time great sight gags. In the end, you asked for so little, and you gave so much.
Running Wilde – Now, the pilot for this new show from Arrested Development’s Mitch Hurwitz was a little busy. We loved it, but it spent a lot of time setting up the premise of the series. Hopefully, future episodes will be able to focus on the characters without getting bogged down in plot. Still, it was a really good first episode, with flashes of brilliance. Will Arnett knows a thing or two about playing clueless rich guys, and he’s hilarious throughout. And he’s at his best when he’s talking to a fake doctor in an elaborate lie choreographed by a young girl. Both Will and the fake doctor forget their lines, repeat themselves, and at one point they determine that the doctor’s name is “Dr. Magazine”. And then they start over! It’s hard to explain, but it’s a really funny scene that called to mind the grand days of Arrested Development.
Detroit 1-8-7Though this pilot wasn’t groundbreaking, it had characters that grabbed our attention, and the promising backdrop of Motown. There are approximately 17 cop shows set in New York and L.A. This one is set in a different kind of town; a big city that’s in massive decline and can itself become a character to root for. James McDaniel and Michael Imperioli are both appealing and since the former was Lt. Fancy on NYPD Blue, he makes it easy to feel comfortable with this show. We were also left with a mild cliffhanger involving a rookie detective that I won’t spoil here, but it was a clever way to hook viewers into coming back for episode two.
The Office – It might be too early to call, but it feels like The Office got its feet back after an uneven season. This episode hit all the right buttons – inappropriate behavior from Michael, a new obsession for Dwight (a canteen backpack!), staff meetings gone awry, and simmering anger from Darryl. Creed had the second great Twitter joke of the night (“Everywhere I look, people are talking about Betty White. Finally, I meet a young person who’s not talking about Betty White – of course I follow him on Twitter.”), and we are almost definitely going to use the phrase “establish a pee corner” as soon as possible. Best of all, they set up what is sure to be a slow-burning subplot where Erin is now dating Gabe. When Andy is suffering, Ed Helms is at his funniest. This has the potential to be both hilarious and heartbreaking.
The Apprentice – Do you remember how insane it was when Trump pontificated about the state of the economy when last season of Celebrity Apprentice kicked off? Well, for this season of Famous Original Apprentice, that’s how every episode begins. And while there’s something kind of sad about seeing unemployed MBA’s selling ice cream on the street while wearing boater hats, there is a bright spot this season – Mahsa. Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy (we’re using her full name in the hopes that she Googles her name and finds this page and then becomes our best friend) is an Assistant District Attorney from Brooklyn, and if you look at her funny, she will destroy you. So far this season, she’s really been getting things done on the tasks, but it’s her Boardroom performance in the season premiere that really stands out – she absolutely destroyed her Project Manager. Poor Nicole brought a rubber novelty knife to a gunfight, and Mahsa lawyered her up and down. In an awesome moment, she asked Nicole a direct question and then paused. When Nicole tried to answer, Mahsa silenced her with a wave of her hand and “May I finish please?” She seems to be a polarizing figure among Apprentice fans, but if you don’t love Mahsa, you are wrong.
And the joy doesn’t stop here. This weekend, we get the season premieres of The Good Guys, Amazing Race, Eastbound and Down, The Simpsons, Bored to Death, and Metalocalypse. And if we missed any of your favorite premieres, let us know! We can always fit another show into our schedule. Somehow.
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