By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
A lot can be said about NBC, some of it good, some of it bad. But one thing is hard to dispute: it has some of the best shows on TV, and they all land on Thursday night.
Coming back from their summer break, “Community” starts off the night. Easily the funniest, most original show on TV and NBC’s best show, “Community” kicks off its first episode with a glitzy musical number ironically containing lines like “We’re gonna be fine.”
John Goodman has joined the cast as the new assistant dean, and “The Wire” actor Michael Kenneth Williams is playing a philosophical, intense, former prisoner now working as a biology professor. The first episode centers on Jeff, who thinks the group no longer needs the study group because they’ve evolved into actual friends.
Of course because this is “Community,” there is are a couple completely random subplots, the funniest being Abed’s devastation that his favorite show, “Cougar Town,” has been moved to a mid-season replacement, practically turning him comatose. In another, the Dean tries to get rid of what he thinks is a monkey living in the vents.
“If I wanted to run a college for monkeys, I would have built a banana buffet,” he says.
Only this show could have an entire segment dedicated to a “2001: Space Odyssey” reference and a “Dr. Who” reference in the same episode.
Following “Community” is “Parks and Recreation.” Picking up directly where last season ended, Ron has run away from his craziest ex-wife, Tammy 1, to live in a cabin while Leslie has to decide between running for local political office and putting her relationship with the adorable Ben in danger.
“Parks and Recreation” is painfully funny, but it can test the patience of viewers who don’t have much of a background with it. It’s intense, but Amy Poehler nails the show down to the ground. It’s Rob Lowe, though, that owns every scene he’s in. The second he’s in the room, it doesn’t seem to matter who was there first.
The third show of the night is the highly-anticipated return of “The Office.” Spoiler Alert! Andy has been named the rather inept new boss after Robert California (James Spader) takes over as the CEO of Sabre.
Carell’s beloved Michael looms over the show, but Spader is strong as the strangely charming California. He brings a completely different flavor to the show, but that’s far from bad. He gives the show a chance to redefine itself after becoming somewhat stale. The only problem with Spader is that his performance makes me nostalgic for the days when we had “Boston Legal” to love.
The final show in NBC’s comedy lineup is the new show from standup comedian Whitney Cummings. “Whitney” is about Cummings, who works as a photographer and lives with her long time boyfriend (Chris D’Elia). Both are staunchly against marriage because of their families’ pasts. Or as he puts it, “I love you so much I’m not going to marry you.”
Every line seems to fall out of the actor’s mouth with a resounding thud. Her friends aren’t great, only notching up the obnoxious factor on the show. With all the actors coming from a standup background, the delivery kind of makes sense. It’s also got its fair share of schlock. Sure there are some funny moments, like the ER visit on the couple’s anniversary. But it never feels like it hits its stride. Funny actors and some funny situations, but where does that leave us? With a mediocre show that’s also kind of sexist? Maybe with time the show will get better, but my hopes aren‘t very high. “Whitney” is the only dud in an evening of great comedy.