The Office was a phenomenon, first in the UK, and then again in the US, because it tapped into the modern workplace’s almost Orwellian kindergarten atmosphere and just blew it up into an absurdity to which everyone could relate. The first season of the show was a six-episode experiment, and it wasn’t really until season two that it firmly found its legs and took off as one of the decade’s best sitcoms. One of the elements that was established right from the pilot, and remained my favorite part of The Office, was Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) torturing Dwight (Rainn Wilson).
Encasing Dwight’s office supplies in Jell-O in the pilot was good, but the brilliance of the prank war Jim and Pam would wage on Dwight’s paranoia first took off in the series fourth episode: “The Alliance”. When rumors of downsizing hit the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Dwight approaches Jim to form “an alliance”. Jim has no idea what this means, but immediately seizes on it as possibly the greatest gift anyone could have ever given him. It’s not as good as when Jim arranges for Dwight to receive daily cryptic faxes from his future self, but without the alliance, there could be no “Future Dwight”.
I know we normally do “My Favorite Scene” on Tuesdays, but I felt like putting up a Monday morning laugh. For the defining sitcoms of my teens and early twenties, I had Frasier and Friends, the latter of which was more pertinent to my life as my friends have been the story of mine, so a sitcom about a tightly knit group of them trying to figure out how to be adults (and failing miserably often as we so often all do, was my favorite). There are so many hysterical moments over the show’s run, but one of my favorites is just a stupid moment when Chandler and Rachel are trying to help Ross move a couch up the stairs to his new apartment (the use of friends as slave labor is pretty much what a “contractor” is in your twenties). It’s hysterically set up, but it’s David Schwimmer’s manic screaming of ‘PIVOT!” that absolutely slays me when I rewatch the clip. Not just me either. They had to do this scene a LOT, because Schwimmer’s PIVOT scream was causing them all to lose it as you can see in this retrospective/blooper.
Fans of the adventures of Greendale Community College may rejoice. If you felt like the fourth season of the show lost its way entirely, that was due to the heart and soul of Community, creator and showrunner Dan Harmon, having been fired after season three. I was almost sad when Community was renewed for a fifth season because what was once the most original and hysterical sitcom on TV had become just a bizarre parody of itself. Now I cannot wait and must immediately locate my Troy & Abed In the Morning Mug to off-set the fact I’m writing this at 5 a.m. Coming Soon’s coverage of the RETURN and Harmon’s confirmation Tweet below:
It was just over a year ago that series creator Dan Harmon was replaced as showrunner on NBC’s cult hit “Community” following a public dispute with cast member Chevy Chase. Since Chase will not be returning for the recently-announced fifth season, rumors have persisted for some time that Harmon might be reinstated as showrunner.
“Yes yes yes!” Harmon posted this morning on his Twitter feed. ” I’m back I’m back I’m back. You can thank @joelmchale.”
The 13-episode fourth season featured David Guarascio and Moses Port (“Just Shoot Me”) as the series’ co-showrunners and executive producers. Although Harmon was listed as a “consulting producer,” he made it clear that the title was in name only.
Starring Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Jim Rash and Ken Jeong, “Community” appears to have outlasted its own “darkest timeline” and the odds are looking better than ever that it might actually live up to the fandom’s goal of “six seasons and a movie.”
A few weeks ago we looked at TV dramas, which are in somewhat of a Golden Age. At the other end of the quality spectrum, the TV comedy is in-what might charitably be termed-a slump. NBC’s once-vaunted comedy factory has sputtered to a halt and, after a few gems at the top, it is slim pickings for good comedies. That’s not to say there aren’t classics on right now. I think the top 3 right now are all shows that rank well in the comedic pantheon, but this list was a whole lot easier to make than the dramas list. I had to weed out excellent shows for honorable mention. That’s not a problem here. It should be noted that 30 Rock just finished its seven season run of awesomeness, depriving me of an entrant. Additionally, despite that it will no doubt make (if not top) the list, Arrested Development is not back for another month so I can’t utilize it. Scan the list, debate, tell me if I’m missing something crucial. Mirth is at a high premium for me right now so if you’ve got candidates I need to see, tell me!
1. Modern Family (ABC)
2. Parks and Recreation (NBC)
3. The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
4. Community (NBC)
5. Archer (FX)
* I think of them as talk shows, but if we count The Daily Show and Colbert Report, they’re 3 & 4 and everything slides accordingly.
** Yes, I am aware of Louie and I can’t get into it or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Honorable Mention to: ….Family Guy?……I dunno, it’s a desert out there.