Sitcoms, by their definitions, are comedies. Last night’s episode of The Office was anything but, as Michael was deposed in his girlfriend and ex-Dunder Mifflin boss Jan’s wrongful termination lawsuit. Though the show’s writers eked out a few chuckles from the cross-examination, Jan’s quest to stick it to her former employers for $4 million revealed just how little she regards Michael.
This is all the more tragic since Michael, who has so devotedly loved Jan even way back when she dismissed him despite their affair, entered the proceedings coached and willing to flub the truth to help her out. When he predictably screws up his answers and accidentally admits they were having sex before they disclosed their relationship to management, she, in an entirely self-serving act, produces his private journal. It’s not long before copies are made for everyone, including Michael’s boss, Ryan, and, over lunch, everyone reads it for a laugh.
Though devastated, Michael takes it in stride because he loves Jan. However, Dunder Mifflin’s lawyers, in a further effort to derail his testimony and, quite sinisterly, turn him against Jan, in turn reveal to him a negative report she gave to her boss recommending that Michael be demoted to sales – two months after his journal says they "did it six times" in Jamaica. That was the last straw for Michael, who said, "You expect to get screwed by your company, but not your girlfriend," while, of course, failing to recognize the irony of his statement. When asked if Dunder Mifflin had demonstrated a pattern of disrespect for its employees, particularly Jan, a heartbroken Michael said, "Absolutely… not."
Oh, and Jim played table tennis with Darryl, but sucked. Since Kelly talked a lot of smack to Pam about how her boyfriend’s so weak -- as in "he needs steroids to watch baseball" -- Pam made Jim train for a table tennis championship with Darryl. Jim still ended up sucking, though. Who thought this was a storyline anybody would want to watch?
Over on 30 Rock, the proceedings were much more in tune with all things sitcom-y as Tina Fey and her writing staff delivered an episode satirizing the paranoia drummed up by the Bush Administration’s Homeland Security Department. Liz Lemon became convinced that her neighbor Raheem, played by Fred Armisen, was a terrorist after she saw maps on the standoffish Middle Easterner’s wall and later spotted him seemingly training in Al-Qaeda fashion in a park. Of course, she defended herself to Pete, who pretty much accused her of being racist, by reminding him she’s the one who never makes assumptions about race -- "Remember, I asked that black guy if he’d seen Sideways?" Of course, it turns out Raheem was just preparing for an Amazing Race audition tape. After Liz had him rendered to some secret location, he returned, his balls still twitchy from electric-shock torture, and proclaimed he, this once enthusiastic American, has so much anger inside now.
Wait a minute, when did sitcoms get so friggin’ serious? At least 30 Rock was funny, which The Office wasn’t. At all. There was also a great new storyline that started between ultra-conservative Jack and a Democratic Congresswoman named CC, played by Edie Falco, who is his opposite in every way, but might just be his soul mate. Best line of the night: when Jack finds out she had reconstructive surgery after being shot by a dog (yes, a dog), which resulted in her becoming attractive, he says, "I thought you made love like an ugly girl: so present, so grateful." With any luck, CC sticks around for a few more episodes of political hilarity.