NBC's Thursday Night: I Walked On Your Face!

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Buzz Aldrin is officially cooler than you are.
This is my third week blogging about NBC's Thursday comedies as a whole, and I'm really enjoying the experience of watching them as a block. Between my DVR, sites like Hulu, and a willingness to look around for other online videos whose legality I will not get into in any way, I'm accustomed to watching shows on my time in discrete blocks without commercials. But it feels almost old school to sit down in front of the TV at the beginning of prime time and just watch straight through. You know, like we did way back in the ten years ago.

Community was once again amazing. A few weeks back, they did a spot-on homage to GoodFellas with a bit of The Godfather thrown in, but this week was an all-out mash-up of every action flick and subsequent stereotype. (28 Days Later, Die Hard, The Terminator, The Warriors, Predator, and the works of John Woo, just for starters.) The show also pushed its own boundaries for meta references by turning Abed's wondering about Jeff and Britta's chemistry and the gang's larger predicament, in which they had to play a campus-wide game of paintball for the prize of priority registration, into big old mugging winks at the camera. But the show's never entirely meta; that is, it's never like Abed is completely telling viewers they're watching a show. Rather, it works as a kind of play on Abed's habit of making endless pop culture references and thus turning every situation in his life into a movie. It was also the perfect context for Jeff and Britta to finally hook up, as they both mocked the stereotypical release of romantic tension even as they gave into it in a real way. Bonus: the paintball game let the main characters vent about the glee club's peppiness and lack of original songs, which is at least the second hilarious shot at Glee that Community has made this year.

In addition to being smart, funny, and downright winning, Community is also one of the most legitimately fun shows on the air, as is Parks and Recreation, which used a local telethon about diabetes to gain ground on some major romances. It was good to see Andy coming to April's rescue, and if they're not quite back together yet, it's clear that things will eventually get there. We also found out how Mark is going to leave (or probably will): He's going to propose to Ann, who'll say no, causing Mark to move away in shame so Paul Schneider can make movies and Rob Lowe can step in. Plus how cute is Tom? He talks a big game, but two light beers in and he's falling all over Detlef Schrempf, who is a real person.

The first half of the comedy block is rocket fuel, which lets the back half coast a bit. The older shows are still good, but not quite as fresh or energetic. The Office recycled plot points from older episodes -- how often is Dwight going to act as Michael's private eye? -- but also acknowledged its past exploits. Michael cops to the fact that he ruins all his relationships, and after Pam and the others make him think that Donna's cheating on him, he sits and moans next to Erin's desk because he tells her he likes the attention. The twist is that Donna is cheating, but with Michael, not on him: She's married. I like that the show's potentially given Michael the chance to grow a bit by letting him overcome something instead of just blindly wrecking it. The B plots were cute enough, with Darryl screwing with Andy over an old grudge, though the best part was how Creed referred to him as "Darnell."

30 Rock was again fun but lighter than air, content to string together a mild plot with a series of good jokes and callbacks. (The reappearance of Bitch Hunter, with writing credited to 30 Rock's own Jack Burditt and Mad Men's Matthew Weiner, was a welcome touch.) Everybody's mom was in town for the Mother's Day show, which meant the reappearance Jan Hooks, who has not at all aged well since leaving Saturday Night Live, and Elaine Stritch, who's pretty good at badgering everyone around her. Liz learned her mom used to date Buzz Aldrin, which finally let Liz exorcise her fantasy of marrying an astronaut by learning that her mom had the opportunity and passed. Buzz Aldrin played an insane version of himself, though I like to think that he really does yell "I walked on your face!" whenever he sees the moon.

Best Moment of the Night: The titles of the obesity-awareness documentaries in the diabetes fundraiser on Parks and Recreation: "Even My Tongue Is Fat: The Story of Pawnee" and "One Butt, Two Seats: The Widening of America." I am so happy this show's coming back next year.

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