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Archive for Thursday, September 30, 2010

NBC keeps up inside jokes

September 30, 2010

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Paul Giamatti (“Sideways,” “John Adams”) guest stars as an editor who falls under Liz’s spell on “30 Rock” (7:30 p.m., NBC).

It’s interesting to note how both “30 Rock” and “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC) continue to mine inside jokes from NBC’s travails and its ongoing merger with cable giant Comcast.

On “The Office,” Michael has to submit to counseling for spanking his incompetent nephew in last week’s episode, a sly comment on Hollywood’s notorious penchant for irrationality and nepotism. While the Dunder-Mifflin folks continue to adjust to their merger with Sabre, headed by Kathy Bates, who pops up frequently on Michael’s computer screen, “30 Rock” makes much more direct jokes about NBC being swallowed by Kabletown, an obvious reference to Comcast.

In the real world, the Comcast-NBC merger has finally succeeded in shaking the network free of its president, Jeff Zucker, the man who presided over NBC’s precipitous slide from first place to fourth. Zucker announced his departure just last week. In fairness, while Zucker often seemed like a network wrecking ball, Universal’s cable properties, USA, Syfy and Bravo have thrived during his tenure.

• It looks like CBS has successfully transferred some of its Monday night comedy success to Thursdays. “The Big Bang Theory” (7 p.m., CBS) attracted nearly 14 million viewers last week, trouncing the NBC comedy “Community,” which attracted 5 million viewers despite the appearance of can’t-miss guest star Betty White.

• CNBC presents “Liquid Assets: The Big Business of Water” (8 p.m., CNBC). The Earth is covered in water, but only 3 percent of that is fresh, drinkable water, and some believe that we are quickly arriving at a water crisis. Some predict that in only 15 short years, more than 48 countries will not have enough water to supply their populations, a resource disaster that may spark wars, as well as economic calamity and business opportunities.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Texas A&M meets Oklahoma State in Big 12 college football action (6:30 p.m., ESPN).

• Jeff’s law school pals (Drew Carey and Rob Corddry) drop by on “Community” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Booth’s new girlfriend visits on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Steven finds it hard to bond with his newfound son on “My Generation” (7 p.m., ABC).

• A casino shark attack raises eyebrows on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A peculiar trance state leads to death on “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Personal stories inspire designs on “Project Runway” (8 p.m., Lifetime).

• Author and terrorism expert Lawrence Wright presents his findings in a one-man stage show in the documentary “My Trip to Al-Qaeda” (8 p.m., HBO).

• Todd faces tough choices on “Outsourced” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• Jane gets a little too close to a case on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• City dwellers take a crack at “Hillbilly Handfishin” (9 p.m., Animal Planet).

• “Beast Legends” (9 p.m., SyFy) samples evidence of a Mongolian Griffin.

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