The Boob Tube Review: Oct. 11, 2011

Every week, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware:

Community: "Competitive Ecology"
Season 3, Episode 3, NBC

The most random show on TV became slightly more random in this week's hilarious outing: the now campus cop Chang believes he's living in a film noir and the study group fights over who gets to be each others' lab partner. The show is at its best when it's being self aware and this season has proven things are only going to get weirder and you're only going to love these characters more. - Cody McGraw

The thing that really stood out for me in this week's episode was Chang's security guard subplot — particularly the way the writers used the film noir convention of the inner-monologue voiceover. Getting inside Chang's head makes it pretty freaking clear (in case it wasn't already) that he isn't just a bizarre man — he's a man battling some serious mental health issues. I'm still working through my thoughts on it, but I'm intrigued. Community aren't the only ones delving into this kind of territory these days. On It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia over the last couple of seasons, the depth of Dennis' psychopathy has become ever clearer. And then there's The United States of Tara, Dexter, the increasingly psychopathic Shane Botwin on Weeds. I'm definitely going to be spending some time pondering the treatment of mental illness on television over the next little while. - Adam Bunch

American Horror Story: "Pilot"
Season 1, Episode 1, FX

A horror TV show from the creators of Glee and Nip/Tuck is exactly what you'd expect: fucked up. With a slow-burn plot and plenty of twists a turns, this is definitely a show that will take a few episodes to get into. However, with creepy performances by great actors it's bound to pay off, plus who doesn't love a story about a haunted house? Especially a haunted house that has Jessica Lange living next door. - CM

Dexter: "Once Upon a Time"
Season 6, Episode 2, Showtime

Is anyone else starting to feel like Dexter is an allegory for the pro-death penalty crowd? And now he might be finding religion? Yikes. That will probably get nipped in the bud when he's face to face with Tom Hanks' kid and Colonel Adama's nefarious religious plan to kill people and SEW SNAKES IN THEIR BELLIES. Maybe this season will help me overcome my snake-phobia in a way that YouTube videos of Jake the Snake never did. Mind you last season only fortified my hatred of Julia Stiles so... Also, Mos Def and Molly Parker are guest stars as if you needed more reasons why this season has all the promise of Justin Trudeau. -Alex Snider

The Office: "The Lottery"
Season 8, Episode 3, NBC

Quite possible the worst episode in the show's history, "The Lottery" generated exactly zero laughs and was pretty embarrassing. Andy being the boss is not working and the other members of the cast are being underused. When Steve Carell announced his departure the producers assured The Office would become an ensemble. However, they've just replaced Michael with Andy and everything else stayed the same plus James Spader for some reason. Please, NBC. Put this show out of its misery. -CM

Maybe I was just overtired and desperate to laugh last Thursday, but I actually liked this week's episode. I dunno; the new season hasn't been earth-shatteringly awesome or anything, but I'm missing Steve Carell way less than I expected to. (Although, to be fair, my bar was set low: I figured the show would be completely unwatchable without him.) I do agree that the whole Who Is Going To Be The New Boss? thing has turned out to be thoroughly anti-climactic. What the hell was that about?  - AB

2 Broke Girls: "And Strokes Of Goodwill"
Season 1, Episode 3, CBS

Last week, I talked this show up a bit for being less pathetically misogynistic than that disappointing embarrassment of a Zooey Deschanel sticom, New Girls. But I totally forgot to mention that 2 Broke Girls is kinda racist. So I'm mentioning that now. The show seems to see the diner setting as a chance to write in a cast of supporting characters that aims for some kind of multicultural quirk-fest but ends up being nothing more than the  kind of stereotyped garbage I would have thought we ditched back in the '70s. Boooo. (Kat Dennings still rules though.) - AB


Photo: Ken Jeong as Ben Chang on Community.

The Boob Tube Review is a new feature that will be appearing every week. You can find all of them here.


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