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Laugh Tracks: Two words – John Lithgow, pt 3

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By Amy Van Veen (Staff Writer) – Email

It’s time for the bachelor and bachelorette parties on Perfect Couples. Vance is looking forward to emotional transcendence with his buddies, but Dave doesn’t want him hyping it up too much. The boys plan on spending the night under the stars thanks to Dave’s accomplished Boy Scout skills. The ladies aren’t going to Vegas, they’re going the other V: Vancouver. Vance’s only wish for Amy is that her friends keep her from too much personal time with her old friend Dottie because it would undo all of his Henry Higgins work. (Rex: “Who’s Henry Higgins?” Leigh: “Um…a politician.”) Amy’s only wish is that the boys keep Vance away from strip clubs, not because of the moral issue, but because he has this thing for helping wounded women. Things get awkward pretty quickly up in Vancouver when Dottie thinks she’s the maid of honour and Julia isn’t aware of this, but Leigh almost has a wedding planner heart attack. The boys’ adventure is a little more memorable, save for the hangover that keeps them from remembering it at first. After they reach their point of emotional transcendence faster than expected, they head out in a limo to a strip club, where Vance wants to help a stripper named Lorraine buy a house, so he invites her over to give her a book on mortgage financing. This turns into her putting on Amy’s wedding dress, burning it, and Dave throwing sand on her. And then to air it out, they hold it out of the sunroof in the limo and lose it in a tree. Dave and Rex convince Vance to lie, but his lies are too detailed that he becomes “a slave to his own specificity.” In the end, Vance’s lie comes out when Julia and Amy fight about the MOH situation and Vance threatens to tell Julia one of Dave’s big lies, which leads him to tell all of his lies and become his own worst nightmare. This show is definitely finding its own voice and the characters are at both times absurd and rich.

The Office hosts their first ever garage sale because like most people in America, they have a lot of stuff they don’t need (cue back to The Middle). Ten cents of every dollar goes to the party fund, so it’s fairly self-serving. Dwight comes from a family of traders, and will prove himself as such starting with a thumbtack for Meredith’s half melted candle. Kevin is selling the Dallas board game; he also doesn’t know the prepositional difference between “in Dallas” and “on Dallas”. One of the few side stories is Kevin playing Andy and Darryl in the game of Dallas without any instructions. Ryan is trying a new marketing campaign of his mom’s pesto, with Phyllis’ face on it, and his mom’s salsa, with Oscar’s face. Jim is also tempting Dwight with magic beans. The main story, though, is with Mr. Scott. Michael plans on proposing to Holly; which Holly catches on to, but she also learns her parents are losing their strength of understanding. Pam calls a meeting for Michael to help him think of a proposal idea that’s safe, responsible, doable, and affordable and then he shows them the ring. “Three years’ salary, right?” Oh Michael. When Holly tells him that she needs to return home to Colorado, he’s endearingly supportive, but when she begins to propose him in the breakroom, he cuts her off and runs away because he wants it to be more romantic than “bad weather at a gas station”. (I understand you, Jim Halpert!). Kevin wins at Dallas. Jim tricks Dwight into buying Professor Copperfield’s Miracle Legumes in exchange for a telescope Dwight’s traded his way up to. The proposal needs to be experienced, not explained, because when it is, it will cause chills and smiles and misty eyes. And then Michael breaks the news of his impending move to C-town. End scene.

The Parks & Recreation department have high hopes for whatever event is going to top the Harvest Festival. As the city manager is commending Leslie Knope, he has a heart attack and holds onto her breast for support. At a press conference. The good news is the Pawnee headline doesn’t disappoint: “Knope Grope is Last Hope”. While Paul is recovering from his octupal bypass surgery, Chris comes back from Indianapolis to fill in, and he’s super excited for whatever Leslie’s going to come up with next! To prevent a sophomore slump, Leslie gets the whole department plus Ann, who she invites after Ann runs into Chris, to go on a camping trip and brainstorm ideas. Ron wants the work to be done so his fishing can relax him. “It’s like yoga, but with killing.” Ben doesn’t know how to camp and doesn’t seen the point of spending money on a tent he’d use once. April hates life and is waiting for Andy to rescue her, but he picked the wrong side of the park to set up his romantic spot, and has to trek miles to find her. Tom loves camping thanks to SkyMall, even DJ Roomba made it out. The P&R idea slam is a wonderful thing, the problem is that Leslie doesn’t have an idea. All of her many, many idea binders that make her office set even more hilarious, are filled with small ideas, but she needs a big juicy idea. She even brought her dream journal with mention of marrying Alf, who terrifies me to my core. Jerry ruins Ron’s fishing. Tom sucks all of the life out of the van battery to keep up his lifestyle. Leslie chokes. Ron tells a scary campfire story about state inspection, dun dun duuun. And after Tom drains the battery, the gang heads up to a B&B up the road to get out of camping. Ben and Tom share the porcelain doll room and, thanks to the guest book, learn an intimate secret about the last tenants. Ron has the twelve cat room. Ann misunderstands Chris, again. And Ron locks Leslie into the cat room to force her to sleep so she can wake up with a great idea, which after seven hours of sleep (twice as much as normally), she does. Oh yea, and the owner of the B&B dies about twenty minutes after Ben is stuck listening to her piano solo with Jerry who loves it. This show just gets better and better, which is televisionally impossible.

On 30 Rock, Liz Lemon learns the hard way what a “forced hiatus” means after Jack makes her tell her staff and they all turn to their Plan Bs. Frank is falling back on his stand-up at black women’s colleges. Pete is going to be a substitute teacher again. Jenna sells “Jenna’s Babies” on QVC. Sue was a police psychic in Holland. Toofer can do anything with his degree. As a result, Liz calls her agent—that kid Simon—to find her a back-up and Kenneth plans on saving the show. Jack’s newest business venture, TWINKS, has Hank Cooper raging in the nicest way possible because he can’t think of a way to market this “fellas like fellas network”. Thankfully, there is a gay Jack Donaghy out there: Devon Banks. He’s a house husband in Brooklyn with three gaybies. Cue Jack/Devon face-off. Meanwhile, Liz is up against acclaimed writer Aaron Sorkin for the new writing job for The Sing-Off. Devon loves his gaybies too much to take the Europe job that was Jack’s and he learns how strong his nemesis actually is. Jack also learns that he needs to spend a little more time with his daughter. In the face of becoming a forgotten employee of an irrelevant professional, Liz gets on her soapbox for thee sake of writers everywhere. Kenneth tries to save TGS by doing what other fans have done in the past and mails sugar cubes in white envelopes to Hank Cooper. Pete, however, points out what sugar cubes ground up looks like. Anthrax! However mislead Kenneth is, though, he does save the show by noticing which pizza Tracy eats in “Africa” and completes it with a freeze-frame fist pump. I love Kenneth’s freeze-frame fist pumps.

On the other side of the globe Outsourced has an HR problem and Manmeet is having a relationship problem. His long distance girlfriend from the states has sent him a video, and he needs to send her one. Thanks to Charlie, an amateur director of sorts, Manmeet gets his video. After Gupta tries out a new hearing ear, he accuses Rajiv of hitting him and makes a complaint to Todd. Todd, then, calls the only HR rep who has been outsourced to the Philippines who tells him there’s a zero tolerance policy on workplace violence. He, then, holds a hearing and records Gupta and Rajiv’s testimonies with a koala nanny cam. The reenactments are embellished, to say the least. When Manmeet shows Todd his video thus far, Todd lets him know he should make one that shows the true Manmeet, not the fake one Charlie has depicted. Tonya tells Todd the only way to get answers is to go to the office gossip, Madhuri, but she hasn’t heard anything about the slap either. Charlie’s footage, though, reveals the truth and when the greater truth is learned about Gupta and Rajiv, Todd covers for his assistant manager, and the HR lady is a tad lonely in the Philippines. It was a better episode, especially thanks to Madhuri, but still not offering side-splitting comedy.

There are a few of the above shows that have been picked up for renewal next season and a couple that are still wavering on the sidelines. CBS is renewing their frontrunners HIMYM and Big Bang Theory, though the word is out on Two and a Half Men who signed a two year renewal last year; but if Charlie Sheen’s antics keep the show at bay, there may be hope for Mad Love. FOX is bringing back Raising Hope with much anticipation and hopefully the same goes for their newbie Traffic Light. ABC has picked up The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town for next season, and there’s a little hope for Mr. Sunshine, but less so for Better With You. NBC is bringing back their main assets, Community, 30 Rock, The Office, and Parks & Recreation, but the jury is still out on Perfect Couples and Outsourced.

Watch how Tom Haverford likes to camp after the jump.

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