Thursday Comedy Roundup: 30 Rock 7.08 & Parks and Rec 5.09

30 Rock, Season 7, Episode 8, “My Whole Life is Thunder”
Written by Jack Burditt & Colleen McGuinness
Directed by Linda Mendoza
Airs Thursdays at 8pm ET on NBC

Is there a show outside of 30 Rock that would be audacious enough to follow one wedding episode with another? Perhaps “wedding episode” is a misnomer, as the actual wedding is buried in the post-episode tag, but the threat of Jenna’s wedding (to Paul, who it had seemed the show had forgotten this season) is pervasive, inspiring thoughts of ‘Could they? No, they wouldn’t…” until they finally do. This is yet another example of the startling liveliness 30 Rock has recovered in the face of its imminent demise.

If last week’s episode seemed preoccupied with mortality, “My Whole Life is Thunder”—a rather ominous title—goes all in and features a funeral, that of Jack’s mother, Colleen. That her funeral ends up being the venue for Jenna’s wedding just highlights the parallels with “Mazel Tov, Dummies!” In many ways the episodes are each other’s inverse, one predominantly concerned with marriage with a constant threat of aging and death creeping in around the corners, the other focusing on a funeral with the persistent threat of a distasteful wedding.

The roster of guest stars is pretty deep this week as well. Florence Henderson helps Kenneth and Tracy realize TV is better than real life because… oh wait, it’s not, Gayle King counsels Liz on the difficulty of best friends, Will Ferrell makes a wonderfully cheeky appearance, and what would a funeral be without Kermit the Frog?

Parks and Recreation, Season 5, Episode 9, “Ron and Diane”
Written by Aisha Muharrar & Megan Amram
Directed by Dan Goor
Airs Thursdays at 9:30pm ET on NBC

“Ron and Diane” is in many ways the opposite of the many “Ron and Tammy” episodes the title recalls. While those episodes usually resulted in Ron being dominated by his ex, here he finds triumph over Tammy Two, mostly due to his relationship with Diane.  Ron in a healthy, stable relationship is a place the show hasn’t gone until, and it seems like he’s in a really good place, full of swagger as he steps to the stage and takes up the mantle of Duke Silver at the end of the episode.

This episode is in many ways a celebration of all things Ron. He is nominated for a woodworking award, an award he is actually excited about the possibility of receiving. Running through the convention center with glee, it brings out a side of Ron we only get to see once or twice a season. The gruff exterior subsides to reveal something resembling enthusiasm. What isn’t there to be happy about? He has a great girlfriend, the best friend anyone could ask for in Leslie, he resisted the temptations of Tammy Two’s nether-regions (quite explicitly), and won the woodworking award. Things are pretty damn good for Ron Swanson right now.

Things aren’t too shabby for Jerry Gergich either, he has a lovely family and throws a wonderful party. Perhaps that’s what inspires him to take the abuse dished out towards him at the office every day with such nonchalance. Having April, Andy, Tom, and Donna realize that they’ve kind of been jerks (even if they idea of Jerry dinner is hilarious) and making an expression of gratitude towards him is just another piece of this delightfully heartwarming episode.

Justin Wier

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