Monday, May 21, 2007

Scrubbing The Office With Earl: NBC Takes The Com Out of Sitcom

Sweeping Up Sweeps
Even though NBC's ratings have been south of the Nielsen equivalent of the Mendoza Line for some time, Thursdays have still been appointment viewing for me.
From "My Name Is Earl," straight through to "ER," the Peacock keeps me dialed in, or at least keeps my TiVo active.
So, yes, I'm a fan, but nonetheless I was a bit annoyed that when it came to the sitcoms, the network and the show's producers veered away from the funny stuff at the end.
All of a sudden, lovable/goofy Earl was sent to the pokey for a two-year bid after covering up for Joy, who was facing a life term as a three-strike offender when she stole a department-store truck. Surely, the Earlies could have come up with a better finale -- Joy going into labor in the courtroom, a holdout juror smitten by her swollen belly.
Instead, we're now faced with the show's hero -- or sorts -- now a convicted felon instead of a lovable petty thief albeit one who's already been renewed for 25 episodes. Sure, wacky hijinks may ensue behind bars that have nothing to do with soap in the shower -- especially if Givoanni Ribisi's Ralph has anything to do with it -- but you'd like to head into the summer with a smile rather than sorrow for the Lunkhead of Camden County.
"Scrubs" left us with the spectre of J.D. and Elliott hooking up while their girlfriend and fiance, respectively, waited at home. This has never been an endearing match on a good day, and not one we'll be pining for come September.
"Scrubs" has usually had an effective mix of slapstick and whimsy leavened by raw emotions and heartbreak. They even had the temerity to kill off a longtime character (Miss ya, Laverne!) for no good reason other than to meditate on death in a treacly, unconvincing way.
Let's hope the gang at Sacred Heart can lighten up for the last 18 episodes and err on the side of silly for the rest of the way.
At least "The Office" managed to lead us with some hope that Jim and Pam would finally hook up, a stark contrast to last season's finale when that vaunted pair's love went unrequited for all the wrong reasons. This year, Carell & Co. knew they couldn't slam the audience like that again, and at least gave them breathing room for some fresh plot points come fall. Given that they'll be producing the equivalent of 30 episodes, they'll need it all and then some.

No comments: