Good night tonight from NBC Thursday; combining strong stories with some well-placed guest stars.
First off is Community, which featured frequent Dan Harmon collaborator Jack Black as Buddy, a heretofore unnoticed member of the Spanish class (with funny flashbacks) who wants to join their study group. Jeff takes over the student newspaper, with Annie as his ace newshound, while Abed attempts to groom him in his new persona as the Hawkeye Pierce of the group. Abed's pop culture fixation would be grating on another show, but Community allows him to follow his pop culture asides to the absurdist end, leading to Jeff wearing Hawaiian shirts and Abed building him a still. Other funny bits were Pierce's new collection of ironically funny t-shirts, Buddy's bit about throwing off the group's rhythm being interrupted by the opening credits song, and then the kicker at the end; Owen Wilson as the leader of the "cool" study group that Buddy really wanted to join.
Instead of The Office, we get a double shot of 30 Rock, which knocked it out of the park on both pitches. First, Jack and Kenneth break into Nancy's (Julianne Moore as Jack's high school love) place to retrieve a drunken New Year's message, then Liz's recently outed (by her) gay nephew comes to New York to visit (and party), and finally, Tracy is having a daughter and must now reevaluate his views about women. Oh, and Jenna is fake dating James Franco in order to throw the media off of his alleged relationship with a Japanese body pillow. And that's just the first episode. The episode had its hits and misses, but the ending with Liz's threeway with James and Kameiko-chan was the best moment of the night.
The second episode revolves around Danny, the new guy on TGS, and Liz and Jack's war for his affections. BLACK LIGHT ATTACK! Tracy invites a woman into his entourage, Jenna is forced to embrace her true age, and we meet "Tom", Liz's mustache. Tina Fey does an amazing job at continually "uglying herself up" for gags, by the way. Toofer's diatribe about the strategy behind Quidditch (while at a hockey game) was a great throwaway joke, and it's good to see more of the writers.
In all, great night of television, although I can't wait for The Office to come back. Dollhouse should be wrapping up this week, so I'll get ready for that big Dollhouse marathon and some thoughts on the series.