Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Must See?

Let's stop and reflect at mid-season how NBC's new Thursday line-up looks. Not the ratings--for years NBC was unstoppable, now it's getting its brains beat in by CBS and ABC.

But they've put their four most notable comedies on from 8-10--My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs and 30 Rock--and are trying to generate a little heat. Note the new face of sitcoms--they're all one-camera, no laughtrack half-hours.

My Name Is Earl has, unexpectedy, turned into my favorite live action comedy. A neat premise and a bunch of fun characters (who all talk funny). I don't see why it shouldn't go on for years.

The Office is getting the most critical love, having just won the Best Comedy Emmy. I don't get it. The original British version is a gem, smart and subtle. Its American cousin is trying not to be a direct copy, but I still find it a bit too obvious and overbearing.

Scrubs I stopped watching a few years ago, so I really can't comment.

30 Rock has a certain screwball charm. It's having trouble finding a tone, though--it goes off in all directions, sometimes sharp, sometimes silly. Tina Fey holds things down as the sensible one (who's a bit of a sad sack) and Alec Baldwin continues to prove his metier is comedy. Only Tracy Morgan doesn't quite work. There are some interesting secondary characters, though I hope they get rid of Fey's boyfriend.

For all its problems, I'll take this lineup over CSI or Grey's Anatomy.

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