Premiere week brought us new episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, and Community last night, as well as the pilot of Outsourced, a holdover until Parks and Recreation's midseason return (so placed due to Amy Poehler's pregnancy).
This show premiered its second season in fine form last night, though it would have been impossible for anyone who didn't watch last year to really understand what was going on. The meta-references worked really well for me, with a running gag about an "Old White Man Says" twitter page being a great dig at CBS' new show (update: this exists). Also, my friend Bill pointed out that actor Don Glover wears a Spiderman t-shirt in his first scene in the episode, calling out to the online rallying there had been for his casting as Peter Parker. I think this episode got a lot of the relationship mumbo-jumbo out of the way for now, which is excellent as no one cares nearly as much about it as we do about Abed and the other supporting characters.
30 Rock, 8:30pm
The season five premiere was a rather mediocre episode with a lot of awesome jokes, and one terrible one. There was a lot of reliance on what the show does really well, which is make insider jokes about NBC Universal and the television writing process. Also Matt Damon returned as Liz Lemon's long-distance pilot boyfriend, which was great. Liz's boyfriends have probably been my favorite characters on the show, now that I think about it. Judah Friedlander's lines got the most laughs out of me, but I can't help that "Would You Rather..." jokes are right up my alley. A protracted visual rape joke regarding Pete and his wife was completely tasteless and out of place for what is usually such a smart show. That was troubling.
The Office, 9pm
It's hard to believe that this show is at its seventh season. Mark me as one of the fans that thinks this show should have wrapped up three seasons ago (the original Office's format should have taught us all a lesson in success), but this was as solid of an episode as we've gotten for the past couple of years. The "lip dub" cold open, in which the office mates attempted to create a single-take viral video, was a fun and sweet way to kick off Steve Carrell's last season. It had a little bit of everything we love about each character. Now that the wedding/baby storylines are out of the way for Jim and Pam, it seems like they might be back to the sweet hijinks of season two, and Dwight was as good as ever. Mindy Kaling - who should shine even more on this show than she already does, because she's amazing - had a great arc as new super-smart Kelly. My favorite line of the night went to bit player Evan Peters, as Michael's nephew Luke, who said, "I love cinema. My favorite movies are Citizen Kane and The Boondock Saints."
UGH. This is a show which wants to pretend that it's in on the joke, making fun of American excess and perceived cultural ignorance, but in reality it was just pandering to the lowest common denominator. I thought of a summer show I loved, ABC Family's Huge, in which people underrepresented on scripted television were given a show where their characters had depth and were compelling, and their difference to what we usually see on TV was not lampooned. On Outsourced, dozens of actors of South Asian descent participate in a trite run-through of almost every stereotype someone could think of. No thank you.