The Office (10/8)
Okay, up front: If you're an Office fan who doesn't like Jim and Pam and the emphasis on their romance, you're not going to like this, and probably should have just skipped it altogether (and the first clue that this would be the case should have been the ads that said "Jim and Pam get married"). There's certainly enough of Jim and Pam being superior to everyone else and casting bemused glances at each other and the camera and the other again to drive you crazy. Me, I'm kind of totally okay with all the Jim and Pam stuff, probably more than is cool to admit. And this was the perfect way to deliver a whole lot of touching romantic stuff without sacrificing vomit and scrotal humor and Dwight kicking a woman in the face. Underrated: Phyllis being so catty to Stanley's mistress. And bonus points must be given for using the Chris Brown "Forever" YouTube video in such a straightforward manner (weirdly, for a show like The Office, they were kind of obligated to) and still making it work. And finally: Michael's going to show up next week having had sex with Pam's mom, isn't he? (And in fact, he may already have -- my DVR cut off the post-credits tag.)
So the purple team finally lost and thus we were spared 35 minutes of Russell assuring us he's running the show. We only got about 15-20 minutes of that. Jaison didn't quit like I'd feared, but that's most certainly coming, or else we wouldn't have gotten that footage of him being all defeated, right? Anyway, half of me thinks getting rid of Yasmin was the right call, because: crazy; but the other half is sad to see her go, because, again: crazy. But beyond that, I don't know what I'm rooting for on Galu because there's been no room for them on The Russell Show. Dan seems funny ... or overbearing. Brett seems cute ... and invisible. Erik seems to have a plan ... but is potentially self-righteous. There are also women on the tribe, but fuck knows who they are. Except for goddamn Shambo, who was already on thin ice with me but totally earned my ire with that shit with the chicken, the couldn't-be-less-savvy way she handled the idol clue, and her general obliviousness.
Modern Family (10/7)
Okay, that the third really funny episode in a row -- I'm in. Once again, it's an episode full of situations we've seen before: the little kid interacting with the adult on her level; the whole Costco thing. But the writing manages to make those familiar stories feel fresh (Mitchell enthusing about the caskets; Manny's milk mustache). Also, once again I find myself kind of taken with Sofia Vergara. How did this happen??
30 for 30 (10/6)
I'm generally a good mark for sports documentaries, so this seems like a good bet. The 30-different-directors thing will likely lead to some episodes being better than others. This Peter Berg-directed Gretzky entry, while generally illuminating, felt like it backed away from some really pressing questions. Gretzky does, to me, come off as a huge ego guy, and there are some blatant contradictions that didn't get explored (Gretzky's dad claims he thought Wayne's trade to the Kings was tragic; Gretzky says his dad was all for it). The indulgent bits with Berg on the golf course with Gretzky make these unasked questions even more frustrating.
The Hills (10/6)
So, yes, I hated Kristin Cavilari on Laguna Beach, but I fucking love her here. It probably has more to do with the fact that she's tormenting Audrina than anything else, but honestly, now that I've given up hope that Heidi and Spencer will ever get their comeuppance (or would even recognize it if they did), I need to enjoy the small pleasures. Like Audrina feebly trying to apply "girl" code to a girl who is not her friend.
Gossip Girl (10/6)
"Do you think anyone really knows who they are? We don't. We just live." God bless you, Lily Bass, it has been too long. Really fun episode despite Dan Humphrey being at his most insufferable (of COURSE he has no idea who the enormously famous actress is), plus terrible Hillary Duff acting. I liked it mostly for the following: Lily! Watching Blair form her own Finer Things Club at NYU (and the hilarious prospect of them taking NYU down from the inside). Watching Nate at his most enjoyable, specifically being Dan's best girlfriend. And most of all, watching Jenny and her full-body trashiness cat around with Chuck Bass. It makes no sense. I should be repulsed by her, but I quite simply can't look away.
The Amazing Race (10/5)
It's only been two episodes but I'm loving this season. The villains haven't been allowed to overwhelm the season with their awfulness (ahem, SURVIVOR), while the good teams have been thus far uncommonly fun. How I ended up really liking the guy who spells his name "Cheyne" ("Shane") is an eternal mystery to me, but I dig him, the dad and his pink-haired son, "Team Zebra," and (once again) Sam and Justin just a bit more than their teammates Dan and Zev. And while I liked the old couple who got eliminated well enough, she always seemed just this side of a breakdown while he seemed equally teetering on the edge of snapping at her, so it's not the world's worst thing they're gone.