MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

With one week left till Steve Carell departs, "the Office" cast offers a tearjerker of a farewell

By Sona Charaipotra Apr 22, 2011 9:46PM
Photo courtesy NBCIn the seven seasons it's existed, I never expected "the Office" to become such a tearjerker. But as the producers ramp up the emotion in Steve Carell's last few episodes, it's becoming just that. 

First there was that three-hanky proposal, and this week, a sweet send-off that may just be one of the more memorable moments the show has ever offered up. 

As Carell's Michael Scott wrapped up his final Dundie Awards, his replacement DeAngelo Vickers (guest star Will Ferrell) cohosting, Michael's long-suffering employees decided to express that vast river of emotion they'd been feeling in song -- and one from "Rent," at that (no doubt the inspiration of Broadway baby Andy Bernard, played by Ed Helms). Conspicuously missing: Scott's right-hand man Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), which suggests we have another tearjerker of a goodbye coming up next week, when Carell finally walks off set for good. 

In the meantime, in case you missed it, here's the sweet send-off:

Catch Carell's final "Office" appearance next Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC in a very special 50-minute episode.

'Double Trouble' brings the second season to a darkly amusing conclusion

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 11:05AM

Can you count how many "season finale" clichés were featured and then subverted in this episode?  First and foremost, a life-changing alteration in the main character, as Sterling falls sincerely in love for the first time, and even quits drinking (kind of). Next, an "explosive" final shootout, where everyone runs out of ammunition.  And finally, a beautiful terrace wedding that ends in the tragic loss of one mad scientist's van.  Yeah, yeah - Katya also dies, but I really don't think we are meant to be too broken up about that.

All of the double-crosses, betrayals and misjudgments piled on top of each other to create more frenetic plotting than outright funny one-liners, but overall "Double Trouble" was full of the kind of outrageously shocking jokes (Pam sitting on the toilet was something we can never ever EVER un-see) and honest action sequences we have come to expect from "Archer."  Any show that inserts an extended homage to "The Six Million Dollar Man", complete with shot-by-shot remake of the opening credits and a fake Oscar Goldman voice, is automatically in the top TV comedies, animated or live-action. Kudos to Adam Reed and everyone involved for turning out a second season of endlessly quotable dialogue, ingenious spy shenanigans and non-stop perversion. See you in the danger zone again soon.

  • "What in the name of pre-paid venereal disease do you think you're doing?"
  • "Then you're as dumb as you are stupid."
  • Guys, don't hate the playa, hate the game.
  • It was great to get a featured role for Krieger, and nice to see the return of his hologram Japanese fiancée.
  • "No words. My words have failed me."
  • Lemon Party Chairman
  • "If I tell you all at once, your head might explode. Along with comb over."
  • "This deuce ain't gonna drop itself!"
  • "Something about stripes and solids?"
  • Holograms have mothers? Who knew?
  • "Don't engage him. From there, it's all just orcs and gollums and balrogs."
  • Most giggling-inducing running gag: Malory's complete ineptitude with the phones. ("I bet Mother is pressing star again.")
  • "How do explain this?" "Bad parenting?"
  • "And mustaches."
  • Sy Berg. Of course.
  • "You have sown the wind and now you shall reap…the Barry."
  • "All ashore from the SS Date Rape."
  • "Totally being sarcastic about the Georgia O'Keefe posters. Do not do that."
  • "The unholy abomination of metal fused with flesh that now stands before you."

A showcase for Aziz Ansari continues an excellent run of episodes

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 10:14AM
A strong supporting cast is both a blessing and a curse in a sitcom.  Of course, it is always great to have a plethora of solid and reliable minor characters that can drop in whenever the comedy needs goosing. But it can also create unwieldy subplots and underused foils to the main players.  If balanced correctly, it results in an episode like "Soulmates", where Leslie is inexplicably matched up on a local online dating site with the annoying but endearing nitwit Tom Haverford, which gives Tom the opportunity to display his outlandish douchiness to maximum effect. The fact that this development somehow brings her closer to her real soulmate and mural-lover Ben was a sweet and lovely bonus.

It didn't seem possible that "Parks and Recreation" could top last week's touching and wildly funny wedding extravaganza, but tonight's episode may have had even more laugh-out-loud moments. Just the escalating list of Tom's dumb nicknames for seemingly everything under the sun ("I call noodles long-ass rice. Fried chicken is fry fry chickie chick…and I call forks, food rakes") had me gasping for air. It was a great combination of writing and (I'm assuming) clever improvisation from Aziz Ansari.  And his elaborate mocking of Leslie throughout the workday once she admits what happened climaxes in her inspired solution of planting a big wet one on his lips just to shut him up, with the added pay-off of Tom's description of that kiss to Ben ("As much as it pains me to admit this, it was not disgusting."). 

The ostensible "B" story was a winner as well, pitting Ron Swanson's manly read-meat-eating habits against the uber-healthy vegetarian Chris. Sure, it was predictable that a classic American hamburger would win the taste test against the fancy turkey burger concoction that Chris put together, but getting there was incredibly fun, particularly the competing excursions to "Grain N' Simple" ("I came here for the same reason people go to the zoo.") and "Food N' Stuff" ("It's where I buy most of my food. And most of my stuff.").  In the end, the super-human positivity of Chris cannot be dimmed; the commissary will continue to serve horrifying artery-clogging hamburgers, even if you have to jog while you digest them.

  • Newlywed April and Andy are more adorable than ever ("Pinwheel.")
  • "If anyone would like to join me, I will running backwards up the big hill behind the Wal-Mart."
  • Adam Scott didn't have that much to do until the end, but his stumbling, bumbling response to Leslie's date invitation was priceless.
  • "Boom, that's spaghetti.  Nachos. That's a cookie."
  • Go Ann Perkins with your newfound trampy self.
  • "Yellow-haired female likes waffles and news" becomes "Sexy well-read blonde loves the sweeter things in life."
  • "Jammin' on my planner"
  • Turtles ARE condescending.
  • The sewage department guy is comedy gold. "Would you like to talk outside in my van?" "No, here's fine."
  • Better name: Skittle Sandwich or Andy's Mouth Surprise?
  • "This tastes is as delicious as Beyonce smells. I'm guessing."
  • "It's a hamburger made out of meat on a bun with nothing. Add ketchup if you want. I couldn't care less."
  • "Cooking is dumb."

Using a familiar format, the study group recalls some meaningful events

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 22, 2011 8:45AM
The standard sitcom "clip show" can range from mildly enjoyable to annoyingly lazy, but not usually clever or original. With lots of funny moments, self-aware comments on ongoing running gags, and some outrageous new set pieces for the tertiary characters, "Community" came up with an inspired twist on a tired concept.

It all starts innocently enough as the gang discovers the secret of Annie's disappearing purple pens; as the audience already knew Troy's monkey has been stealing them – and lots of other items - and storing them in the air vents.  Launching off from one small "Remember when?" question, we are treated to a series flashbacks from episodes both well known (the Halloween zombie attack, the Christmas claymation adventure) and entirely new (apparently everyone got together to paint Shirley's nursery, Greendale had an odd "free Caesar salad" day, and there was a Brady Bunch-esque outing to a Western ghost town). The memories fly fast and furious, and we learn about Abed's obsession with "The Cape" ("Six seasons and a movie!"), Dean Pelton has a bottomless supply of elaborate costumes and odd ideas about campus events, and most importantly, Jeff and Britta have been having secret sex. Once it is established that you can pretty much create romantic slash fiction video montages with anybody, and after a hilarious montage of Jeff and Britta behaving incredibly insensitively in every possible situation, the gang gives their blessing to the happy couple. Of course, once they are denied the clandestine nature of their hook-ups, they don't want to do it anymore. Strange how that works.

"Paradigms of Human Memory" took every opportunity to poke fun at itself and it's standard character arcs, such as a mash-up of Jeff's "inspiring" speeches that devolved into utter nonsense but managed to bring everyone together anyway. It was chock-full of throwaway moments that were surely labor-intensive (kudos to the hardest working crew in the business), and seemed designed to please all the different fans of the show. Those fans will surely have fun deciding which "fake" episode would be the most enjoyable to see (I'm partial to whatever was going on in the haunted house), and hopefully this was the start of a strong finish to a bumpy second season.

  • Sorry, Joel McHale – your forehead is indeed that big.
  • "Is that a new stereotype?"
  • "It's like a reverse cow birth
  • "Yay. Let's find Santa some more."
  • "OK, we hooked up a few times but there's a larger issue here. We are friends with a grown man who clearly believes in leprechauns."
  • "Humanity is premiering, you jags!"
  • "You five are in big trouble. Jeff and Britta, you're free to go, since you didn't step forward and are therefore innocent."
  • "Feast your ear tongues on these memory pops."
  • "It was a particularly small egg. That's why I was asking."
  • "The show's going to last three weeks!"
  • "Those are just stories about us being cute."
  • "Abed, it's called chemistry. I have it with EVERYBODY."
  • "Fear. Anchovies. Fear."
  • "Harrison Ford is radiating our testicles with microwave satellite transmissions."



In the show's 100th episode, art imitates life -- sort of!

By Sona Charaipotra Apr 21, 2011 3:29PM
Photo courtesy NBCTonight, "30 Rock" celebrates five years and 100 episodes with an hour-long show by taking to heart Alec Baldwin's repeated insinuations that the show is coming to an end. 

In the very special episode, Baldwin's network boss Jack Donaghy announces that the network is canceling show-within-a-show "TGS," also celebrating it's 100th episode, unless it can pretty perform a miracle -- given one MIA star (Tracy Morgan's Tracy Jordan), one pregnant star (pregnant actress Jane Krakowski's Jenna Maroney) and Donaghy's decision that the network should only do shows that make sense. 

We know already that the same potential fate won't befall "30 Rock," which already has its season six renewal (and Fey's own pregnancy won't effect the show's production). 

"We want to thank NBC for being too distracted over the last several years to remember to cancel us," Frey said at the celebration of the 100th episode. "I can't believe we made it. Nobody thought we'd make it. We never had the highest ratings, but NBC stuck with us for whatever reason and we're all just so happy we've to work together for five years so far."

So sit back relax and enjoy this sneak peek:
And catch the full hour-long extravaganza tonight at 10 p.m. EST on NBC. 

The residents of Port Charles unite to confront his out-of-control drinking

By MSN TV Apr 21, 2011 3:04PM

Emmy winner Anthony Geary has seen his beloved "General Hospital" character Luke make many mistakes since he sauntered onto the canvas in 1978. Even the iconic Luke and Laura love story raised eyebrows among fans who knew the full tale. This time, however, affable Luke's drinking ways resulted in the death of his grandson, Jake. He and Lucky are taking the hit hard, but on Thursday, April 28, Lucky gathers the troops to stage a rather unique intervention for his father. Anthony Geary and Jane Elliot (Tracy) preview the intervention episode, which also stars Jonathan Jackson (Lucky), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Julie Marie Berman (Lulu), Tyler Christopher (Nikolas), Laura Wright (Carly) and other Port Charles faves.


MSN TV: How is this storyline treating you?


Anthony Geary: I've loved having something to do. Something beyond drunken fun, which is what we've been doing for so long.


Jane Elliot: These two characters have been the comic relief a lot for the last few years. I'm perfectly happy to come in and make people laugh. That's the easiest way to make a living, but this is good and gut-wrenching. You toss and turn at night, thinking about what you did and what you're going to do. It's fulfilling.


Bing: Watch clips and episodes of 'General Hospital'


Anthony Geary: My favorite thing to do is rip open my heart and bleed for the people; and that's what this has been about.


Jane Elliot: Everybody brought their A-game and it shows. This group of actors has been working together for years and years. We have a strong affinity for each other and it was a pleasure to spend the day with them.


Anthony Geary: It was delicious. [Head writer] Bob [Guza] told me what he wanted to do and actually asked if I wanted to do it, which I thought was sweet. Why wouldn't I? I'm looking for something new and challenging, and this was it. It was gravy that it was well written and had all of my acting troop, my family, participating. I’m talking about the intervention, but the whole storyline has been invigorating. It's been rejuvenating to be asked to act again.


How do they get Luke to the intervention?


Anthony Geary: They do it the only way they can: They knock him out and tie him to a chair.


Jane Elliot: It's Lucky who finally says, "We have to do this," because he's not getting any better.


Anthony Geary: Luke's as close to suicide as he's ever been.


Jane Elliot: So Lucky enlists his brothers and his sister, Tracy jumps on board and we get Carly and Sonny to participate.


Anthony Geary: The entire episode takes place in one room. It's just everyone in a circle on folding chairs, with him taped to a chair in the middle. It was like doing a play.


Jane Elliot: It was just yummy.


Anthony Geary: When each person reads their intervention letter to him, we step out of reality in a very stylized way. It's flashbacks, but we're inside them.


Jane Elliot: As the audience sees it, we're watching it too.


What was it like to see that old footage? 


Anthony Geary: Brutal!


Jane Elliot: There's 20 years of flashbacks and his hair gets whiter and whiter.


Anthony Geary: Killing me! We have flashbacks of Jonathan when he was 11.


Jane Elliot: And Maurice looked like a kid.


Anthony Geary: A baby! This is the only medium where you can go back 30 years, in our case, and have the same actor playing themselves.

Luke occasionally falls off-canvas so Anthony can spend time at home in Holland. Will Luke disappear into rehab this time? 


Anthony Geary: Oh, you figured that out, did you? (laughs)


Jane Elliot: This time you go with him.


Anthony Geary: You get to see where he ends up.


Jane Elliot: The story doesn't end here.


Anthony Geary: You won't be disappointed.


Did you do any research on addiction and interventions?


Anthony Geary: I didn't, because every time Luke says, "I am not an alcoholic," I believe it. As an actor, I can't play a guy in denial. I have to play a guy who is not an addict.


Jane Elliot: Just like Tracy Quartermaine doesn't think she's a bitch. (laughs)


Anthony Geary: What's cool is it leaves people to argue about it: Is he or isn't he? I don't think any of us can say for sure.


Jane Elliot: It was also very clearly written for us. We didn't have to do any research.


Anthony Geary: They did the research and they did it well -- apart from him being tied to a chair!


Jane Elliot: We're going to be getting calls from Betty Ford, no doubt.


Anthony Geary: Betty Ford has never dealt with an alcoholic like this. (laughs)


Did you have any concerns about this story, knowing you might not play certain things "right," according to some viewers?


Anthony Geary: I'm happy as long as I have material to burn the house down. I'm not worried about where the character's going to end up or how the audience is going to take it. This is a character the audience has been loving to hate and hating to love for 30 years. He's damaged goods and they seem to like him that way, so I don't think it's a problem.


There's going to be an Al-Anon/Alateen PSA after the episode, but is there a message in this story?


Jane Elliot: No. You're just seeing life. You're seeing the guts of it, which is the best thing about soap operas. It's the opera part. You're seeing people rip their hearts open. Yippee!


Anthony Geary: If we could do that every day... This has been a great story. It's reset our bar. At a time when the medium is limping toward its extinction, to be able to surprise the audience and keep them involved, challenged and wanting to watch tomorrow is fantastic.



Conflicts between youth and maturity play out in a deft and very funny episode

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 21, 2011 7:39AM

Josh Hopkins, Courteney Cox, Christa Miller"Youth is wasted on the young" was the theme of the evening, starting with the main conflict between Jules and Ellie; namely, is it easier to raise a child when you are young and full of energy, but fatally clueless about babies, or when you have lots of resources (like a nanny, a devoted husband, and an endless supply of goldfish crackers) but you are older and dead tired all the time? Secondarily, Laurie is ready to get over Smith and jump back into the world of "hit it and quit it" (and variations thereof). But she confides to Andy that the whole sweaty club world is distasteful to her now, and starts to wonder if this means she is actually maturing.

If it was ever possible to convince non-believers that "Cougar Town" is not only hilarious, but actually deals with some real issues, this episode would be Exhibit A. There was an old-school sitcom situation (Jules agrees to take care of the magically reappearing Stan and proceeds to make a mess of it) that was employed in the service of actual character development (Grayson articulates his desire for children at the same time Jules is celebrating her relief that she is done with all that). Bobby took care of physical comedy, falling asleep in his golf cart and developing an elaborate system to make him wake up on time, including Dog Travis being adorable and kissing him awake.  Best of all, there was the fabulous Busy Philips, teetering in her stripper heels right on the edge of growing up, but ending up coming down decidedly on the side of cheap one-night stands with random dudes.  There is no other show that could make a walk of shame so…well…awesome.

  • "Hey dummy!" "Hey sexy!" "Bye losers." Try it on your friends!
  • "There's really only like seven minutes of the day that you are fun to be around."
  • "That is a crap ton of mommy time!"
  • "Chuck it and…re-chuck it!"
  • I would like to start a book of unique Busy Philips line deliveries. Tonight: "She's super-pregnant and doesn't want to have another baby in a club."
  • "It's so on. If Ellie says it's on. It may not be on."
  • Just how drunk IS "jury duty drunk"?
  • "Ass worship is contagious."
  • "Plus, it reduces the odds of you being randomly murdered by, like, half."
  • "What you got going on there, dime eyes?"

Raylan is forced to fly solo, while Dickie escalates the turf war with Boyd

By Miss Sarah Jo Apr 20, 2011 11:15PM
"We're gonna end this right now." - Raylan

It's hard to be the good guy. Staying scrupulous and disciplined, and doing the right thing even when you get no real credit, is difficult even when you don't have to deal with a wild-card outlaw who has multiple scores to settle. So in honor of that, let's give it up for Tim Gutterson.

Raylan was still our protagonist, but he definitely didn't rise to the level of our hero. Don't get me wrong, it was understandable (and necessary) that Raylan wanted to get to the bottom of the hit (which turned out to be squirrelly little Gary, cutting a deal with Wynn Duffy to split the insurance money Winona would receive as beneficiary).  He is even fairly respectful and up-front about his plans to give Tim the slip.  But Raylan's arsenal of enemies is severely compromising his ability to be an effective marshal, and everyone knows that.  Considering how active the criminal element is about to get in Harlan, Raylan would do well to try to mend fences with Art and his fellow lawmen.

Chief among those criminals are the newly reinvigorated Boyd Crowder and the dangerously ornery Dickie Bennett.  It's no surprise that Boyd is smart, organized and just as much of a visionary about his new illegal networks as he was about his (brief) career as a born-again leader of reformed bad guys. After Boyd makes short work of his career as the marijuana king of Kentucky, Dickie shows his true colors as a trigger-happy, shortsighted, petulant child. Of course, as Boyd admits to his sweetheart Ava, how Dickie responds will show whether his mother is backing him up or hanging him out to dry. It's a crafty move, and one that makes sense to his new paramour, who rejects Helen's advice to learn as little as possible about the shady live of her man.  Sadly, that philosophy couldn't protect Helen from death (or at least, we can assume, grave injury).  It seems the only possible solution to this would be if Mags steps in to clean up the mess. The exciting showdown will play out over the next two weeks and I can't wait.

  • It seems a little weak that Gary will just disappear now. I realize that Raylan couldn't possibly kill Duffy, but how does his solution really protect Winona? She's not so stupid she (and everyone) isn't going to notice her husband vanished into thin air.
  • My crush on Timothy Olyphant temporarily transferred to Jacob Pitts a few times during this episode ("I do the Dolly Parton version."), particularly during their initial confrontation in the motel room and his "descriptive" evocation of how he felt about the upcoming showdown.
  • Jere Burns just makes everything scarier.
  • Ice cream for breakfast sounds eminently reasonable to me.
  • Aunt Helen's famous last words:  There were lots of times I wished I knew less about what he does, and can't ever remember a time I wished I knew more."
  • Again, the robbery scene in the light-filled weed barn was glorious looking.  Weed barn location.
  • "I feel like I'm in the Big Chill." "Except no one's dead." "Yet."