The Office S08E02 ("The Incentive") – painless
Fun fact: Jon Hamm taught Ellie Kemper drama in high school.
Unlike the past few seasons, which begot some horrendously unwatchable television, The Office's eighth year has so far been harmless enough. Like last week, this episode was the most basic, classic Office sort of plot, just with Andy in place of Michael: Dunder Mifflin-Sabre needs to double their sales, and Andy accidentally promises them he'll get an ass tattoo if they succeed.
This isn't bad TV, but it isn't good: it's comedy at its blandest; characters that once became caricatures and have come out the other side as washed-out versions of their former selves. It's innoxious, but it also isn't very funny.
-the opening Kevin tag was an interesting meta-reflection on this (and lets us know they're well aware how terrible the show has been)
-Dwight became such a supervillain in the past few years that I'm not even sure how I feel about his decision to completely reinvent himself around the office, but he was actually pretty funny, if saying things entirely un-Dwightish: "Your friend Neil Patrick Harris really made me laugh the other night." (And his response as everyone else guffawed: "Laughter.")
New Girl S01E02 ("Kryptonite") – alright
Every fiber of my being doesn't want to recommend this but... here you go.
Against my better judgment, I actually found myself enjoying this episode. They nixed the cutaways and instead put all their jokes into dialogue, and you know what, it was actually funny. I still find Zooey Deschanel grating and twee, but I also have no bad associations with the the other cast members -- I actually really like Jake M. Johnson and Max Greenfield, and they and the rest of the cast have good chemistry.
This episode was pretty spare plot-wise: Jess breaks the TV and being broke, is coerced by the guys into getting her flatscreen, fixie bike, and other stuff back from her ex's. Simple, but at least not stupid, and it's dealing with issues set up in the pilot (and Damon Wayans Jr.'s departure), which bodes well for the show's ability to grow.
I wish I hadn't, but I kind of liked it.
-seriously: why are there lockers in their apartment??
-who knew Max Greenfield was so good at playing a borderline-douche: "Rosh Hashanah '06... nothing orthodox about what we did that night."; "It's so nectar." ("It's a volleyball term.")
-I did like the casting of a non, um... Gosling-type to play Jess' ex; "Jess, take your shoes off, we keep an Asian household!"
-true fans own Curly Sue on VHS
How I Met Your Mother S07E03 ("The Ducky Tie") – alright
Ads in old eps of HIMYM that I do not remember!
Good HIMYM-style pacing with interweaving Ted's story in with the goofy Barney/Marshall bet -- which as an A-plot would have been as insufferable as last season's "The Incredible Meatball Sub" -- this kept the episode light and breezy, even with Ted's requisite prolix talks about fate.
After Robin, Victoria is the least-irritating of Ted's exes, and if this whole "you're not over Robin" thing pans out, then using her will seem justified beyond "here's someone who's not Zooey" (which, well, is actually a fairly reasonable excuse). But Robin still pining for Barney, and now Ted mixed up in this relationship-nostalgia seems to only be the opposite of a forward direction for this show -- like Victoria, if it doesn't end up having a larger consequence, it's like HIMYM just wants to remind us of times when it was better, instead of actually being good again. Though at least there was no Zooey.