Archive for September, 2011

September 24, 2011

Don’t Leave “The Office” Just Yet


I thought I’d play hooky.  Call in sick.  Maybe just not show up at all.  No, I wasn’t there, on my couch this past Thursday at 9 pm to catch the premiere of the new season of “The Office.”  I don’t know where the hell I was, but I’d completely forgotten about what had become my usual final-worknight-of-the-week routine for the past number of years.  However, my DVR didn’t.

I mean, Steve Carell was gone.  I used to watch him on “The Daily Show.”  Then he was the guy I’d recognized, but couldn’t quite place in “Bruce Almighty;” though I’d always remember Carell after outfunnying Jim Fucking Carrey in his own movie.  The man who had an unstable hairline was hilarious again in “Anchorman” and then “The Office” debuted with a brief 6 episode season in 2005.  It took some time to build an audience, going through a couple of times slots, but, in conjunction with “The 40-Year Old Virgin,” the show would launch Steve Carell into superstardom, ironically, knocking Carrey off quite a pedestal in the world of screen comedy.  Yes, Carell was funny on “The Office,” of course he was, but I personally felt that his performances on that show featured some of the best pure comedic acting I’d ever seen.  The Michael Scott character is one that t.v. has never seen before and will never see again.

And Carell was gone.  This spelled certain death for the show.  Who watched “That 70’s Show” without Topher Grace?  Nobody did and he was no goddamn Carell.

On top of that, I also felt that the show, even with Carell still in tow, was kind of jumping the shark to begin with.  The BBC series lasted 2 (yeah, that’s 1 more than 1) seasons, and was hysterical.  There were no weddings between characters, no babies to be had, and no famous guest stars showing up for a cameo.  With all of the romance of the American version dominating the plot lines as it went on into its 5th, 6th, and 7th seasons, it seemed as though the writers were going down the same path that countless other sitcoms had traveled before, just to maintain ratings.  Much of it was tastefully done on “The Office,” but “Friends” turned to crap once the babies started popping out and everyone started fucking everyone. (Rachel and Joey?  Give me a break.)  “The Office” recently pinched a hot chick into the cast, Kelly, to keep the big male 18-35 demographic around.  And the last episode of season 7 found James Spader becoming a candidate for Carell’s replacement.  I honestly thought his character, Robert California, was hilarious, but I doubted he would really fill the Michael Scott void adequately.  My mood went from skeptical to annoyed when (How funny?), of all people, Jim Carrey’s mug tainted my screen for just a few seconds.  Look, I like Jim Carrey, he’s done some of my most favorite comedies, but I hate it when Hollywood fits in a big name for a cameo, either in t.v. or film, just so the audience, in unison, says, “Holy shit! It’s [actor’s name]!”  It significantly compromises the integrity of the work and, in this case, there might as well have been a CGI motorcycle Fonzie jumping over the Fingerlakes Guy’s head.  I’d proclaimed that I wouldn’t watch “The Office” any longer.

Season 8’s premiere though had found its way into my DVR that had maintained its settings to record all new episodes of “The Office” throughout the summer.  Thinking my subconscience was telling me something, I gave the episode a shot and experienced a little bit of regret when Jim and Pam had announced a new pregnancy to go along with Angela’s baby bump.  I didn’t like the fact that over the summer NBC leaked stories about how James Spader had signed on to continue to do the show, leading viewers to believe Robert California would be the new office manager, completely obliterating the cliffhanger leftover from last season’s finale, just to find out that Andy was really taking over, while Robert would be the new CEO of the entire company.  And why, out of all of the branches of the corporation would the CEO have to work out of Scranton?

Despite those initial hiccups, “The Office” was still very funny.  It is still the best sitcom on network t.v. and this is because the show’s entire cast is incredibly talented, along with writers who consistently draw inspiration from pop culture. The whole bit on planking was great.  Stanley’s “new thing” on how to instruct people to insert things into their asses was solid.  Kevin’s diatribe on how everyone, even “the doctors,” has been wrong about him was snicker-worthy too.

It seems to me that with NBC moving Andy out of the main work room and into Michael Scott’s office was a statement that said, “We can’t replace Steve Carell, so we won’t.”

I doubt “The Office” will ever be as good as it was a couple of seasons ago, with or without Steve Carell, and I don’t know if this season will build on its quality premiere, but the show seems to still be a more than worthwhile watch.  So, if you can’t get into “The Office” on time, leave your DVR settings alone.  For now.

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