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The Remains of Must See TV

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Stumped. Today I am stumped. I sit there on Thursday nights and I watch my Must See TV and I chuckle here and there, but the old grey mare ain't what she used to be, is she? Don’t get me wrong, I’m amused, I definitely am, at least twice an hour, but it’s no longer appointment television. I know, earlier in the season I told you how much I still enjoyed it, and maybe had there been a new episode of The Office last night I would still be saying as much, but without that show, the strongest in the Thursday comedy lineup, I'm not enthralled.

Earl is funny, but only as bits and pieces. I appreciate the fact that they’ve done a lot this season to make storylines carry over from one episode to the next, but so many of the references feel overly forced. Take last night’s Chubby references for example. They actually showed clips of Burt Reynolds from his last appearance to get you to remember who his character, Chubby, was. There was a concerted effort to ensure that the viewer realize that this new character they were going to introduce was related to Reynolds’ Chubby. And, once Little Chubby appeared, it really seemed like they had the two characters be related solely in order to have Norm McDonald (Little Chubby) dressed like a 1970s Burt Reynolds. It was unquestionably funny, for almost a complete ten seconds, and then every other scene with him the joke felt tired. The joke about the color of Little Chubby’s gonads was also funny, again, for almost ten seconds. 

30 Rock managed to be amusing, but only in a “it’s funny 'cause it’s true” kind of way. In particular I’m thinking about Liz’s unabashed love for New York City, despite the fact that she can’t get onto the subway without being questioned by police, can’t walk down the street without seeing an old lady get pushed into garbage, and can’t talk while on the sidewalk without having someone spit in her mouth. Okay, so only part of that is reality, but the rest is only slightly exaggerated. The undying love people that live in it have for NYC, and the people that talk, like Jack does, about not venturing above X-numbered street in the last umpteen years exist (and this is why TV and Film Guy is moving, but we’ll talk about that at some other point). 

Scrubs. Well, come on, that’s a show where the humor is always just in the bits and pieces of crazy and daydreams and never in the story arc, which is more often than not pure drama-based. It’s sophomoric and juvenile, but I still love The Todd. And, if you haven’t visited The Todd Time yet, you should, but just realize who The Todd is before you go, because he wears the banana hammock and I won’t be blamed for warping little minds (outside of any offspring I currently, or may in the future, have). It’s funny, in a purely The Todd way (sophomoric and juvenile). 

I’d beg NBC to promise to bring Scrubs back, but at this point in time what NBC is going to do next season is anyone’s guess. They’re in deep, deep trouble. Not only are the numbers not good, but neither are so many of the shows. Sure, ER should be allowed to go off into that sweet, sweet, slumber of repeats in syndication for perpetuity after this season. But if you’re NBC, do you allow a show that earns a solid #2 spot in its timeslot on a weekly basis to disappear when you can’t muster much better than third the rest of the time? Someone over there is going to have to commit seppuku soon. I still probably watch a disproportionate number of their shows, but they need to fix things next season. And, I doubt they're listening, but in case they are: ridiculous reality game shows aren’t a long term solution (and with the numbers you’re getting for the ones that are on now, they’re not even a short term one). Please Peacock People, get this whole “development” thing back on track. 

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.