Friday, October 05, 2007

Those Other Thursday Night Shows

I have trumpeted NBC's "The Office" before, in this blog post in particular, but there are currently two toher shows on NBC on Thursdays (along with Scrubs that will return in a few months) that warrant your viewership: "My Name is Earl" and "30 Rock".

"My Name is Earl" stars Jason Lee as a reformed criminal trying to make amends for his past misdeeds. It is currently in its third season, and more so than any other show, comedy or drama, it has certainly evolved from its first run. Originally, "Earl" was all about Earl's list of mistakes and him trying to correct those mistakes to right his karma. This continued into the second season, but the second season also largely included Earl trying to become a better man outside of his list. It also included more storylines that ran through the entire season. Now, Earl is in prison for admitting to a crime his ex-wife Joy (the recent Emmy winner Jamie Pressly) committed and the show has changed once again. Earl is still trying to cross of things from his list, but he is also helping out friends and trying to make the world a better place.

The supporting cast on "Earl" compliments Lee perfectly: Ethan Suplee, who is a friend of Lee in real life and his costar in Mallrats plays Randy, Earl's dimwit younger brother. There is Pressly as Joy and her husband, Crab Ma, played by Eddie Steeples. Nadine Velazquez rounds out the main cast as Catalina, Randy's former love interest and current wife (long story, see Season 2). Of course, they are a myriad of minor characters that populate Earl's world, much like how on "The Office" the secondary characters are as important as the main cast. "Earl" is funny and slapsticky at times, as it straddles the line between a one-camera show like "The Office" and the more farciful sitcom situations that Lucy used to tackle on "I Love Lucy." Of course, Lucy never robbed a one legged woman before.

"30 Rock" is the newer kid on the block, having premiered only last year. Yet, in its first season, it has won critical praise and the Emmy for "Best Comedy." Created by, written by, and starring Tina Fey, of SNL fame, this show is a hilarious love letter to the entertainment industry. In Fey's world, NBC is little more than subsidiary of a local clothing company, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy can in charge of network and microwave programming, and the backstage antics of a comedy variety show are more hilarious than the actual show. "30 Rock" is a pop culture smörgåsbord, with references to Star Wars and classic TV shows alike. Last night, for example, the whole main plot revolved around Jerry Seinfeld being digitally inserted into NBC's ratings-challenged shows. And Seinfeld eventually shows up to defend his digital honor. As all this craziness unfolds in each episode, Tina Fey shines as the neurotic center of it all. For someone who worked mainly as one of the anchors on "Weekend Update" on SNL, Fey shows a remarkable talent to act.

Luckily for us, NBC is behind "Earl" and "30 Rock" much like how they are behind "The Office". All 3 shows aren't ratings juggernauts, often finishing behind other shows in their time slots. But Thursday night is a big night for all networks, and NBC knows they have found a niche with their quirky lineup. While NBC's Thursday nights seem different from what they had on ten years ago, with all these shows without laughtracks and bigger sets, their lineup is as strong comically as it ever was. In fact, I'd say there are more laughs packed into Thursday nights now then there ever was with "Seinfeld" and "Friends" airing on that night.

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Blogger David McIntyre said...

He slept with the one legged woman.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Adam Entertainment said...

And robbed her.

9:24 PM  

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