It's not often I can use this job to impress chicks (aka my wife), but last night was a good one. We had just finished watching "Gilmore Girls" when she said, "Oh, I wish there was more!" I took a dramatic pause, then said, "Well, it just so happens that I have next week's episode in my bag!" Major, major brownie points there.
I've complained a lot in the past about how Amy Sherman-Palladino keeps fixing Rory up with these asshole boyfriends whom she thinks are much nicer than they actually are, so it was funny to see Asshole #2 (Jess) lecture Rory on dating Asshole #3 (Logan). (Asshole #1 was Tristan, who I'm sure Rory would've started dating if Chad Michael Murray hadn't left to do that "Lone Ranger" pilot.) Of course, this new Jess was more mature and decent than he ever was when he was a regular character on the show; I could actually buy Rory going out with him now. It bothered me that Rory needed an outside voice to shake her out of this stupid funk, but it's about freaking time. The scene at the end, with Rory and Emily turning into a young Lorelai and Emily, was great, one of the few times this year where I haven't cringed at Alexis Bledel's acting. (She's decent when Rory's upset; it's the comedy scenes that overwhelm her.) Next week's episode is even better, though I can't discuss it much without spoilage.
When that was done, I zipped through "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office." One of the better "Earl"s of the season, featuring not only an extended flashback to Bad Earl, but a funny karma mission. Some weeks, it seems like the writers just assume that the idea of Earl trying to do good deeds is funny in and of itself, when the comedy should be coming from the dumb screw-up ways Earl tries to fulfill his mission. (The beauty pageant episode last week was totally flat, except for Jamie Pressley dancing with her mom's ashes.) The "Say Anything"/golf club/burning cross scene is the sort of thing that should be happening every week: Earl going at his mission in exactly the wrong way and almost making things worse in the process. The "Smokey and the Bandit" subplot was funny, too, and the show followed through with the joke with the "Smokey"-style blooper reel over the end credits. (They're not the first show to use that gag, however; the best of them was on "The State," which for no reason whatsoever featured an exact recreation of the blooper reel from "Cannonball Run" at the end of one episode.)
"The Office" ruined my theory that Carell is playing another 40-year-old virgin, but I'll survive. This is the most competent we've ever seen the character (even as David Brent in the original), and I suppose it was necessary at some point. In the British version, the boss gets fired for incompetence within 12 episodes; if this show hopes to be around for the long haul, we occasionally need to see reasons why Michael gets to keep his job. The table read of Michael's movie script was another good Jim/Pam subplot, but I worry that they're pushing this UST thing too far. Will-they-or-won't-they is a trap that's killed many a good comedy before ("Ed" dragged out the Ed and Carol thing for so damn long that I just gave up), and in the event that "The Office" is around a while, I don't want to tune in three years from now and see Jim still awkwardly pining for Pam with no forward movement. Greg Daniels has said that he really sees the two of them as friends, but if that's the case, he needs to nip this thing in the bud, and fast. Just do an episode where they sleep together and it's a disaster afterwards and get it over with. Hey, if Michael can get laid, anyone on this show can. Except maybe Dwigt.
I had already seen "House," which is the episode I had alluded to in last week's column about how the writers are smart to occasionally let one of House's patients die. Very strong hour with a great guest performance by Clifton Powell as the patient's dad and some real relevations about House's past. But am I the only who, everytime I see R. Lee Ermey, I immediately want him to shout, "What is your major malfunction, Private Pyle?" No? Didn't think so.