A better episode than the last few before Christmas break. This one just seemed like a normal Community episode, which is definitely what I was asking for. And I'm certainly going to enjoy an episode that gives me this much wonderful Troy material (his awkward sex investigation with Theo Huxtable; "Kettle corn? That's a fun time snack!"). But the Jeff/Annie storyline continues to feel more forced than it should, and there was definitely too much Chang for my comfort. But...better. Definitely.
30 Rock (1/20)
I'd like for the show to find different ways for Danny to fit in than merely as Jenna's foil, but man, Cheyenne Jackson is a joy to watch. But that was all secondary to an incredible Jack-Liz A-story with each of them trying to out-maneuver the other one (and the slow unfolding of the events at the wedding was great). And I will forgive everything about the loser "Jack must win over Congresswoman Latifah" storyline if we revisit Angie Jordan getting her own reality show. How is Sherri Shepherd so funny on this show and so awful everywhere else?
Parks and Recreation (1/20)
Just so, so, so happy this show is back, even if this episode was merely there to re-establish the dynamic with Adam Scott and Rob Lowe in the cast, as well as set up the Harvest Festival as the season's recurring goal (much like the Pit was in Season 1). But even all that plot business took place in and around another trip to Pawnee's gay bar (my beloved KNOPE poster!), Leslie coaching Ann through a date, and Ron Swanson getting his Bobby Knight on. What a wonderful show.
Cougar Town (1/19)
Well, right off the bat, I'm going to love an episode that features this much Laurie. But it's also a pretty shrewd episode in that respect, and shrewd is not a word that gets applied to this show often, even among those of us who love it. But I was intrigued at how the show acknowledged Laurie's tendency to go too far -- something that occasionally comes across as the show trying too hard to be funny -- and made it a character trait, same as Jules's obsessiveness or Ellie's meanness. The latter of which also got a good platform this week, and it was quite satisfying watching her dress down that snooty wine bar operator.
Top Chef: All Stars (1/19)
This episode may well have been the best episode of Top Chef I have ever seen. The most dramatically satisfying, at the very least. I have always been somewhat mystified at Bravo's attempts to brand the annual "Restaurant Wars" challenge, but this season's version finally did the trick for me. Watching Marcel's awfulness come home to roost was one thing (one glorious thing), but we also got to see Fabio's affinity for front-of-the-house work to flourish in ways beyond his usual flirting. There's an alternate universe where Dale's team crumbles under Dale's temper tantrums and Richard Blais's overly cutesy menu concepts (as it was, that smurfy "tuna in a can" got rightly dinged), but they all made it work.
This show has more or less settled into a not unpleasant groove of a show that I can watch while I do other things without getting too emotionally involved in the proceedings. It's a slight downgrade from last season, one I can blame on Season 2's overreliance on William Baldwin and Hattie, neither of whom I give a crap about. This week's episode was a rare exception, and not coincidentally it's one of the few that has put Mae Whitman's Amber in the forefront.
Being Human (1/17)
I'm pretty happy that someone's finally found Sam Witwer the perfect role for his odd sexiness. I guess when you have a pasty face and bright red lips, the vampire craze is your friend. I never saw the original Brit series, but I was largely charmed by the American premiere. They're slow-playing the mega-arcs, which is good because I'm simply enjoying the interplay among the three main characters.