The writer’s strike gave and took from us in equal amounts during its 3 month duration. We turned to the internet, DVDs, the internet, the Food Network, YouTube, and the internet to satisfy our fix, a writerless Conan gave us one month of the best late night T.V. in history (concluding with an old fashioned New York fist fight between the city’s talk show triumvirate; himself, Stewart, and Colbert), we felt our souls sucked into the 7th circle of hell as producers inexplicably looked for hope in the bottom of the bottom of the barrel (MORE “reality” TV?), and worst of all many of us were forced to engage in conversations with our friends and families. When the dust settled, a few things were evident:
- John Stewart needs writers like Comedy Central needs John Stewart.
- CSI is still up there with crocs, morning breath, anal fissures, the Crusades, and Kevin Federline as one of the worst things ever.
- Someone needs to filter Oprah’s trendy of-the-moment vaguely spiritual crap literature, before we’re all one with the our inner destiny and the new earth.
- In the grand scheme of things, TV really doesn’t matter. At all.
That being said, we truly are in the golden age of television. The sitcom is dead. In its place brilliant understated humor, and poignant storytelling have taken center stage. The Office, 30 Rock, Flight Of The Conchords, Curb Your Enthusiasm, This American Life, Pushing Daisies, Extras, Mad Men, Metalocalypse, hell even Saturday Night Live is (almost) funny again. Tonight the focus is on the two most anticipated (not to mention best) TV shows of the season. The Office, sleeper hit gone mainstream megastar, and new kid on the buzz block 30 Rock.
_The Office_ got just a handful of special hour-long episodes out of the gate before the strike hit. Barely into its first season since the hype reached boiling point, we witnessed Dwight’s own Bed & Breakfast, two car accidents, Ryan Howard growing into the new David Brent-type corporate executive, the breakdown of two relationships as well as the beginning of twp (including the overdue Ross and Rachel sized get together of Jim and Pam), and for one of the first times in years NBC found itself with a few number-one time slot victories. As the new season continues we can expect ever more unrealistic goings on, and ever more realistic characters. We can set our watches to an important personnel change (or other unexpected twist), Jim and Pam’s first relational speed bump, the probable end of Jan and Michael’s poisonous relationship, and a few guest stars worth all the Tivo-ing in the world. Also look for the show to reassert its awkward portrayal of uncomfortable moments and harsh realities (something that’s been lacking as of late).
In only its second (and unrelenting critically acclaimed) season, 30 Rock has the much harder job of outdoing the pound-for-pound antics we had begun to take for granted as commonplace, while remedying the sometimes forgotten character development and getting past the hype of award seasons and a-list guest stars. Quite easily the funniest show on T.V., it finds almost no company in being able to seamlessly straddle countless styles of comedy, whilst maintaining a cohesive aesthetic, and balancing screen time between multiple leading men and ladies. Look for the possible return of Jason Sudeikis as Floyd, new levels of Tracy Jordan’s ongoing mental madness, and a possible inter-office love interest situation.
Pre-strike I wore the statement “I’m not going to miss T.V. at all” like a badge. And as true as this may have been, it is, I think, time to eat those words. For there are two shows that like the thawing snow, bring back all the beauty of the season, and unless the Arrested Development movie becomes a reality, its really all we’ve got.
Jordan Kurtz is a writer, musician, and radio host living in Canada.
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