September: The Television Enthusiasts Purgatory

Now that September’s here and I’m back at school “studying,” I face a sort of “atheist’s dilemma,” only you have to replace “atheist” with “television enthusiast” and it kind of makes sense. While I am super grateful that Breaking Bad has been delivering Sunday after Sunday (and while Dexter has become a chore to watch), I am not fulling satisfied. I need everything back.

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I need Homeland and Modern Family.

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I need Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead.

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If I pray hard enough, maybe this fall will see new seasons of Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Or maybe that would be pushing the envelope a tad.

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Be on the look out for posts on these shows and more (including, but not limited to, Parks and Recreation, The MiddleCommunityNew GirlThe Mindy Project, American Horror Story: Coven, and Girls. I might try to get into some new shows, but they all just look so bad this season. The ones I’ll test are The Masters of SexSleepy HollowAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Dads. If you have any suggestions, let me know ASAP. Well, not, like, super ASAP, just whenever you feel like it. Cool. Good talk.

And shout out to tumblr for having these TV cross-over images. I’m glad to know my Internet folk are keeping busy and paying their bills.

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THE OFFICE: Robtrospective

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Oh, where to begin this post. I don’t know if I want to do a traditional review of The Office series finale or just give a retrospective of my own (or a “Robtrospective”) of the show that has been defining American television for the past nine years. I’ll go with the Robtrospective.

To be honest, I didn’t start watching The Office from its pilot back in 2005. The first episode I saw was season three’s “Branch Closing,” and I kind of stumbled on it by accidently. Back in the day, our family only had one computer, but we each had our own user account that we could log into. However, iTunes used to operate on a computer-wide scale rather than restricting to each individual user’s account. That being said, my older brother’s iTunes would sometimes accidently start syncing when I would plug in my now-vintage iPod Video. One time, the computer recognized my iPod and began syncing The Office season 3. Being scared for my life, I quickly unplugged the device to avoid my brother’s wrath if I had so much as clicked on one of his iTunes playlists. However, I was too late. “Branch Closing” had been downloaded onto my iPod.

Now that it was downloaded, I figured I would see what the show was all about… and the rest is history.

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I finally started to watch the show religiously in the show’s fifth season, having caught up through my brother’s iTunes account. I remember being intrigued by the show’s mokumentary style, reminding me of my favorite show at the time, Survivor. The short-and-sweet testimonials never ceased to elicit a chuckle and the real-time lens scopes truly captured the essence of everyday life.

The show embraced pregnant pauses in a way that no other show had done before. It’s greatest foil, yet partner-in-Thursday-night-crime, 30 Rock, literally used all of its 22-minutes to spit joke after joke, reference after reference. What killed Tina Fey’s show (and many others like Arrested Development) was that it was too fast and too smart for the average television viewer. In contrast, The Office’s greatest triumph was that it appealed to the masses and the distracted. Missing an episode of the work-place comedy would not set any viewers back in terms of understanding the characters or their interactions – which is why it, along with its contemporary How I Met Your Mother, have already been syndicated on countless cable channels.

In the end, what The Office is truly about is the people and their relationships. And while the veteran employees will forever bask in the show’s glory, two latecomers truly kept the show moving following Steve Carrell’s departure from Dunder-Mifflin.

Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) and Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) brought fresh new faces to The Office in seasons 5 and 8 respectively. Erin, the naïve receptionist, initiated many a love triangle around the office – most of the time not even realizing she was in the midst of them. Nellie, the pompous, British saleswoman, created much-needed tension in the show, as she vied for the position of Regional Branch Manager against Andy and Dwight.

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Regardless of whether you liked it, didn’t like it, thought it should have ended with Michael Scott’s departure, The Office is, and always will be, one of the greatest feats of American television – even though its roots do trace back to England. From inappropriate “that’s what she said” jokes to “Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica,” the show has taken on a persona of its own and will be cherished by generations and generations to come.

Pop-Pop and Circumstance: The COMMUNITY Season Finale

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The gang at Greendale bids farewell to their graduate, Jeff (Joel McHale), in typical Community fashion: by revisiting the Darkest Timeline.

In case you have forgotten, the Darkest Timeline was created in Season 3 when Abed initiated a dice rolling in order to determine who would go to the door to pay the pizza delivery man. Each of the six members were assigned a number and the episode followed the various situations the group could get itself into if the die had landed on all six sides. One of the timelines created from this is called the darkest timeline, in which Pierce is killed, Jeff loses an arm, and all of the characters become villains.

In last week’s Season Finale, Jeff – who knows his time with the study group is waning due to his fulfillment of Greendale’s curriculum – decides to rekindle the Darkest Timeline by rolling a die one last time. In doing so, Evil Jeff comes through the portal to make sure that Jeff does not consider staying at Greendale with his friends and urges him to take his old job back at the law firm.

Wow. I’m re-reading this as I type and it sounds so nerdy.

Ok. Moving on. So as Evil Jeff is assembling the rest of the Evils, Abed gets transported to the Darkest Timeline, where he stumbles upon Evil Abed, who explains the situation to him. My favorite part of the episode comes when Evil Abed tries to make Abed stay in the Darkest Timeline because NBC’s failed superhero drama, The Capehas become wildly successful in the alternate universe. A reluctant Abed refuses the gesture, but I could tell he was really torn.

Abed is able to return to the regular timeline with the special paintball guns that transport you between timelines and, with the help of his pals, he is able to send all of the Evils back to the Darkest Timeline.

The episode ends with a sad study group bidding farewell to their leader, Jeff, who promises to come back and visit next semester – which leads me to wonder whether or not McHale will be a series regular or a guest star next season. Also, Pierce graduates along side Jeff, but I think Chevy Chase has had enough with the show – granted he was left out of almost half of this season’s episodes.

With the season over, we are left guessing about the whole “Changnesia” thing. Who was Chang working with? Will that be brought up next season? Will there be another season? In the background of Jeff’s graduation ceremony, “Six Seasons and a Movie” is written on the chalkboard, which I hope is an indicator of the show’s longevity.

With 30 Rock’s departure in March, Parks and Rec‘s two weeks ago, and Community‘s last week, NBC Thursday has one last hurrah: The Office. Be sure to tune in to the hour long The Office: Retrospective, a look at the nine-year journey that the cast and crew took in creating the beloved and innovative television series. Following the special will be the last episode, entitled “Finale.” Slated to appear are Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, and Joan Cusack. Unless NBC has been able to keep Steve Carrell’s return to the show under wraps, it seems unlikely that we will see Michael Scott in the office for the show’s final episode.

PARKS AND REC Season or Series Finale?

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It was to my surprise that I tuned in to tonight’s episode of Parks and Recreation to discover that it would be its last for the season. Usually, shows end in mid-May, but with Community mid-mid-season start of sorts, it only seems fair/profitable for NBC to air all of their produced episodes. However, Leslie Knope and the gang in the Parks Department go out with a bang.

The time has come for Pawnee’s annual Founders’ Week Parade, which ironically has never occurred in the show’s five-season run.

In order to prepare for the celebrations, the gang heads up to Ron’s cabin house in the woods to brainstorm what makes Pawnee so special to its residents. The morning after, however, Andy makes a discovery that lets the Bert Macklin inside of him come out – a positive pregnancy test. Throughout the episode, he makes it his (and Ann’s) mission to discover who’s it is.

Meanwhile, Tom is approached by a lawyer whose anonymous client wishes to buy out Rent-a-Swag, leaving him with the difficult decision on whether or not to sell his blooming business.

In City Hall, members of the community congregate to declare their grievances over the excessive amounts of regulations that have been wrought upon them since Leslie has taken office. Amongst the crowd is Brandie Maxx, who praises Leslie for making Pawnee more porn-friendly.

At the Founders’ Week Parade, Chris is named Pawnee’s Nipple King while the Committee to Recall Leslie Knope halts the procession with chants of “Recall Knope!”

Meanwhile, Andy interrogates Leslie and Donna and comes up empty. Tom about the pregnancy test, worrying that it could be Mona Lisa’s. When he realizes that the brand is “Womb There It Is!” his suspicions are confirmed – only for Mona Lisa to “Psych!” him yet again.

Quickly, Andy realizes that the only woman he has yet to question is his wife, April, who we see receive a mysterious phone call at the beginning of the episode. When asked if she’s pregnant, she is disgusted and responds with the greatest line of episode:

“I want to wait until we’re fifty and then we can adopt a set of adult twins from Armenia.”

She does reveal to Andy that the phone call she received was vet school in Bloomington accepting her application and the two of them rejoice.

The episode ends with a discouraged Andy still unsure of whose pregnancy test it is….and in walks Ron’s girlfriend Diane who needs to talk in private. Andy’s face? Priceless.

As you may or may not be aware (or if you didn’t read my title), this could have been the last episode of Parks and Rec – they have yet to be renewed for a sixth season. That being said, this episode reminded me of the Seinfeld series finale in that Leslie was revisited by members of the community that have taken issue with her policy changes, much like how the characters from Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George’s past come to testify against them in court.

So what am I supposed to think? Should I be looking forward to another season or should I not give my hopes up? My life is such a struggle.