There’s no accounting for taste, and people are particularly picky about what they think is funny, so I’m sometimes hesitant to write about what I like. But I watched five sitcom premieres last night, and the overall quality was too good not to discuss. Given the general crappiness of scripted comedy (and TV in general), it feels good to occasionally step up and say, “Hey, nice job, TV executives. You weren’t idiots for once.”
With that, here’s my ranking for the five shows I saw last night, starting at merely enjoyable and counting down to must-watch laugh riot. (Note that these rankings are only for the episode I watched, and do not speak to a show’s overall body of work.)
5. Parks and Recreation, NBC. I missed all of Season 1, but the reviews tended toward disappointing. Season 2 seems to be off to a more promising start, but I can’t quite get over the way that the single-camera documentary style makes this look and feel like a less-funny version of “The Office.” Still, it’s well-written, Amy Poehler is effective, and Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones are excellent. I doubt this show will ever be a priority for me, but I’ll still enjoy it when I watch it.
4. The Office, NBC. Last night’s season debut proved that the show is still solid. Steve Carell is still a genius of awkward comedy, everything Creed says is amazing, yadda yadda. Nothing has changed; it’s still good.
3. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, FX. It’s almost unfair to rank this third, since last night’s episode was hilarious. The gang is still a bunch of self-absorbed idiots with half-baked plans that go awry, and that’s fine with me.
2. Community, NBC. Perhaps “Sunny” provides louder laughs, but the way this show crammed so much story and characterization into half an hour won me over. The pilot was brilliantly written: in 22 minutes, we got the perfect feel for McHale’s charming but dishonest fallen lawyer, his love interest, and at least five more supporting roles without any character feeling underdeveloped. And the entire episode occurred over the course of one afternoon and evening. It was sharp and tight; I look forward to watching this every week.
1. Archer, FX. FX kept the sneak preview this animated spy-comedy under wraps, not even listing it in the TV guides. I was hopeful about this, but I wasn’t expecting it to be the comedic dynamite it turned out to be. The scene that was released online — which I found pretty funny — actually brought fewer laughs than any other scene in the pilot. Sterling Archer is an outstanding character: charming, cruel, unapologetically self-absorbed, and emotionally hobbled by mommy issues. “Archer’s” first episode was zany and crude enough to be on Adult Swim (there were jokes involving interracial porn and dolphin puppets), but it had better writing and more appealing artwork. It kills me that this won’t air again until January.
Disagree? It’s probably because you’re ugly. But feel free to flame me in the comments anyway. That’s what the Internet’s for.