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NBC Thursday Returns! — 8:30/7:30c-11/10c

[IMG:L]NBC Thursday Night Returns! — 8:30/7:30c-11/10c

Networks have been welcoming back their shows from strike-induced hiatuses all week, and even NBC gave My Name Is Earl a special hour-long return slot last Thursday.

But tonight’s non-Earl NBC slate is the only return that matters (no offense to all other shows on TV).

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And more specifically, only two shows’ returns really matter: The Office and 30 Rock.

The absence of these two shows, TV’s best (in one person’s opinion), coupled with the omnipresence of reality shows during the strike, genuinely made it difficult to turn on the TV.

But never again; they’re back and here to stay! Well, that is unless there’s an actors’ strike later this year, but let’s not focus on that right now.

First up is Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, on which Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy has a hit with his reality show, MILF Island. (The fact that Fey was able to get the M-word on this network is just amazing.) But unrest is afoot after one of Jack’s staffers publicly disparages him. Kenneth (Jack McBrayer)? Nah, can’t be.

Next is The Office, the entrée to 30 Rock’s nonetheless delicious and satisfying appetizer. Tonight’s return takes us off the Dunder-Mifflin premises and into Michael (Steve Carell) and Jan’s (Melora Hardin) home, where they host a dinner party. On the guest list: Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), who are fresh out of “Can’t make it” excuses, and Andy (Ed Helms) and Angela (Angela Kinsey), who’ve gone public! Off the guest list: Dwight (Rainn Wilson), who, as has been shown on the Office commercials, does not take his non-invite well. Probably not too thrilled Andy and Angela, either.

Less heralded returns follow 30 Rock and The Office: Aging veterans Scrubs, which has only a handful of episodes left before its series ends, and ER, which has turned into something of a soap opera set in a hospital.

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