NBC's Thursday-night comedy block may seem like a harmonious two-hour laugh fest, but here at TV.com we think the four shows that comprise it are all over the place in terms of quality. Our heated cross-cubicle arguments haven't yet come to blows, but someone is going to lose an eye pretty soon... unless we determine once and for all which show is the cream of the crop.
We've assembled our opening arguments, and now we're enlisting your help in deciding which NBC Thursday-night comedy is the best. Will Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office, or 30 Rock reign supreme? Feel free to declare a winner in the comments section below.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury (by the way, you look handsome and/or pretty today), you will hear my opponents talk about how The Office has launched careers, and how Parks and Recreation has a guy with a funny mustache. But one thing you won't hear them talk about is heart. This, my friends, is what puts freshman comedy Community ahead of the pack. The way the show's writers have transformed a group of misfits into a tight-knit clique has been natural and heart-warming. More than just a series of non-sequitor jokes, Community puts its characters into action for a purpose and not just a chuckle. As for its competitors, The Office and Parks and Recreation are basically the same show, and 30 Rock is just an overblown Saturday Night Live sketch. Plus, what other TV show could end its Christmas episode with its cast bloodied up from a street brawl, yet still manage to be touching? Only Community. I rest my case. —Tim Surette
Like most of you, I was ready to all but dismiss Parks & Rec if the second season was anywhere near as slow as the first one. But the show came back in a big way, with a Leslie Knope far more kooky and well-intentioned than her TV predecessor Michael Scott. With an even more fascinating and strange Ron Swanson—complete with his love of breakfast food, an alter-ego named Duke Silver who plays smooth jazz saxophone, and the MO "I'm Ron F***ing Swanson." And with Andy Dwyer, who's sweetly naive to the rules of break-ups and pit-living. It's hard to fault Parks & Rec for being a mockumentary, because the whole is far greater than the sum of its familiar parts. It's a hell of a lot of fun—a live-action cartoon in the vein of Arrested Development—and by far the most consistently uproarious of the Thursday-night comedies. And with rumors swirling that Rob Lowe is joining the cast for its recently acquired third season, Parks & Rec is only going to get better. —Steve Heisler
Anything the other NBC sitcoms can do, The Office can do better. (And did first.) Fact: Only Tina Fey both writes for and acts on 30 Rock, while The Office boasts three actor-writers: Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, and Paul Lieberstein. How's that for working overtime? Fact: Community's Abed and Troy owe their nerdy, quirky existence to Dwight, Creed, Kevin, Toby, and the rest of The Office's nerdy, quirky male characters. Fact: Parks and Recreation, with its mockumentary-style and former SNL starlet in the lead role, is basically a rip-off of both The Office and 30 Rock. Need more proof? The Office has won a zillion awards; launched the careers of John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak (as well as the rest of the cast members, who've created characters I’ll be loyal to for life); created its own pop culture niche with just four simple words (That's what she said!); and it has just been renewed for a seventh season. It's the most consistently funny sitcom on television. Not bad for a remake, eh? —Stefanie Lee
Of all of the Thursday-night NBC sitcoms, 30 Rock is the thinking person's choice. Here's why: 30 Rock walks the line between meta-reality and fantasy, poking fun at both itself and the network that carries it. Sure, 30 Rock appropriates roles from classics like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but it still cracks timely jokes that wouldn't make sense anywhere else on current television. Aside from Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock gets more A-list celebrities to perform goofy bit parts than any other show on TV. And its endlessly talented ensemble cast is perfectly suited for the show's silly nature, which manages to make use of every last cast member quirk—from Jane Krakowski’s Broadway chops to Jack McBrayer's down-home charm. Then, of course, there's Tina Fey, who is simply the most real person on television. Fey even won an Emmy for the show, one of a bunch of Golden Globe, SAG, and Emmy Awards 30 Rock has collected in just a few seasons. Seems to me the jury has already spoken. —Ilana Diamond
What do you think? Which Thursday-night NBC comedy is the best?