Why ‘The Office’ really needs to close

22 05 2010

The OfficeThree weeks ago Steve Carrell announced that his contract on The Office is up after the 2010-2011 season. With 6 seasons of Michael Scott under his belt, he told BBC radio that it might be time to head home for good, shutting the doors on Dunder Mifflin and our favorite dysfunctional work family.

When I first heard the news I was devastated. We were fast approaching the final curtain of LOST (which is unfortunately now upon us) and I couldn’t fathom losing ANOTHER of my favorite shows. And with rumors that Friday Night Lights could possibly pull the plug -or rather, have the plug pulled on them – after next season, I’m looking at going from 4 must see TV shows down to 1 in very short order.

And then, I watched the past two week’s episodes – and I’ve come to the realization that another season is probably too much for my beloved The Office.

Lately it’s seemed much more contrived than normal. Many blame Carrell’s character – how often can he be an obnoxious boss? How many times can he do things that would have gotten him fired and have HR turn a blind eye? Sure, Michael Scott probably has a bit to do with it, but he’s not the only problem.

All of the actors have gotten complacent in their roles. Jim and Pam are adorable, but they’re Jim and Pam. We know what to expect of them and they deliver. Dwight is no longer shocking when he mentions his beet farm, cousin Mose, his weapons, or Angela. Toby just sort of mosey’s on through and everyone hates him. No one is new, no one is interesting – even the new characters – Erin is very one-dimensional and really annoying.

And in addition to the actors settling into their roles in a detrimental way, the writers don’t seem to be able to deliver a compelling story line. They’re leaving loose ends (radon testing?) and they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Now that Jim and Pam are married and had the baby we really have to focus on The Office, and there aren’t many more storylines we can get out of that.

Let’s take a closer look at the past two episodes.

The Chump – The Dunder Mifflin-ites find out that Michael hasn’t broken off his relationship with Donna, a married woman. The entire office drops everything to try to convince him that he’s being a horrible person with absolutely zero morals and he’s hurting Donna’s husband even though he doesn’t know him.

Best part of the episode? Ryan asking Erin out and then turning around because even he can’t be that cold. Worst part? Everything else. There was absolutely nothing compelling in this judgemental episode. Angela and Dwight hooking up? Yeah, we’ve been there, done that, it’s nothing new. Jim and Pam being tired parents? True to life, but too drawn out. Andy and Michael going to meet Donna’s husband? Really contrived. No one, not even Michael Scott and Andy Bernard, would do that.

Whistleblower – The story of Sabre’s flammable printers hits the news, so CEO Jo flies in to clean up the mess. Turns out, a number of Dunder Mifflinites leaked the story to members of the press.

Best part of the episode? Nick the IT guy saying goodbye and everyone hating him. Worst part of the episode? Nick the IT guy saying goodbye and everyone hating him. The only cohesive part of this entire episode where we actually saw The Office, Nick the IT guy’s goodbye had the makings of greatness. No one knowing his name was hilarious because it was kind of strange that he was ever introduced. It was as though the writers had a great idea for him but it never came to fruition. At the same time, everyone in The Office was horribly mean to the man. Obviously, he wasn’t important, but in years past the characters had a reason to be stand-offish to those they were stand-offish too. The writers should have just let Nick disappear on his own without making a big deal out of it.

Honestly, if you look at the facts, The Office hasn’t been up to snuff for quite some time. The wedding and birth episodes were cute, adorable, any number of adjectives, but they weren’t completely awesome, they just had awesome parts relating to Dwight and Kevin. Those were this season’s two big episodes and because we all anticipated them, we were happy when everything went right in Jim & Pam’s lives.

If we’re going to suffer through another season, however, I hope that we get back to more of a focus on the Office itself and less time on personal life. The Office was at its best when business took priority and the personal lives of the staff were interspersed with the every day responsibilities (or lack thereof) of a 9 to 5 job.

I still love the characters. I feel like I work with them every day in my own office. I just want to remember them at their best.

It might be time to try to transfer away from them so I can…





2010 Oscar Predictions

7 03 2010

Well dear readers, the fateful day is finally upon us.

Tonight the 2010 Academy Awards will go down in the annals of Hollywood history.

Who will be best dressed? Worst? Will Avatar and James Cameron have as big of a night as he did in 1997 when Titanic won 11 awards? Will Avatar and The Hurt Locker split the vote on the huge field of Best Picture nominees leading to a dark horse winner?

All of our questions will be answered during the live telecast at 8 pm EST.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the categories and examine who most likely will win as opposed to who should win.

I’m going to fit in one more Best Picture nominee this afternoon – Up in the Air. Can’t wait to see what’s going to happen tonight.

Best Animated Film

Nominated: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, UP

Will Win: UP or Coraline.

Should Win: UP

This may seem like a pretty clear cut category. Of course the Academy would recognize one of the most brilliant animated films to be released in a long time, and Pixar seems to have a lock on the category which has only been around since 2001 (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and WALL-E have all won). However, with UP being nominated for Best Picture as well, it may split the votes. Some academy voters may want to see the second animated film ever nominated for the big award to win and might pick the second best animated film of the year for this category. In that case, Coraline would take the cake. It’s inventive plot and astounding visuals would sway voters to her side. Let’s hope the voters realize UP has no chance in the big dance and recognize it as it deserves – as an animated film.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominated: Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Penelope Cruz (Nine), Mo’Nique (Precious)

Will and Should Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)

Absolutely no question about this one, Mo’Nique will take this award tonight. Even without seeing the entire movie it’s apparent from the clips on the late night shows and at past award shows this season that Mo’Nique delivers an amazing performance as Mary, who physically, mentally and sexually abuses her daughter Precious throughout her life. The subject matter is Oscar gold as the academy loves films that delve into the gritty world of real life without glossing over the truly uncomfortable aspects of the world, and Mo’Nique is said to have delivered the performance of a lifetime. I can’t wait to hear her speech. If the Golden Globes was a warm up of her acceptance tonight, I expect a lot of tears from both her and myself.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominated: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Will Win: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Should Win: Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)

The buzz around this category is leaning strongly towards Christoph Waltz, whose portrayal of a Nazi soldier in Inglourious Basterds is sadistic and cunning. There’s no doubt that he delivers a great performance, especially in the opening scene of the movie as he interrogates a German farmer about his former neighbors, a family of Jewish people. However, the movie drops the ball shortly after that scene and not even Waltz can rescue it. He does a decent job with what he is given, but thinking about what could have been overpowers his performance.

Christopher Plummer on the other hand is being nominated for the first time after a long and storied career. He delivers a masterful performance as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, all but disappearing into the character. Unlike Waltz’s character, Plummer’s allows him to explore different emotions and Plummer manages to exude them all with a grace that can only come with age and experience. If Heath Ledger could win this category last year just because he was dead (let’s be honest with ourselves, his performance in The Dark Knight was amazing, but it was made so because he was no longer with us…) then Plummer should take it home based on the breadth of his performance in this particular role, and as a testament to his entire career.

Best Actor

Nominated: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up in the Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Will Win: Jeff Bridges

Should Win: Can’t answer – have only seen one of these films

It’s Jeff Bridges year for this category. Bridges has won the Golden Globe, SAG Award, L.A. Film Critics and Broadcast Film Critics awards for his portrayal of the singer Bad Blake. He has the award season momentum to take this performance all the way to the Oscar podium. If anyone can take it from him it will most likely be Morgan Freeman, who will win because the Academy seems to enjoy when actors step into the huge shoes of historical figures like Nelson Mandela.

Best Actress

Nominated: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Will Win: Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep…with a heavy emphasis on Sandra Bullock

Should Win: Helen Mirren (The Last Station)

You’d think that only two women were nominated for this category if you listen to any sort of pop culture. Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock are supposedly duking it out for the top spot with Bullock stating she doesn’t expect to win at all. Her modesty may net her the award for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Touhy in The Blind Side. Admittedly, Bullock delivered an outstanding performance in the drama, given that she’s mostly known for her romantic comedies, but it’s not that hard when you’re given a strong woman who really exists to portray. What did Bullock truly do in the movie? She wore a blonde wig and spoke with an accent. The great character came through the true story aspect of the film. Meryl Streep’s performance is very much in the same vein. She played Julia Child and she played her well. She had her mannerisms down pat, she captured her voice  (though, I have to say, she seemed to match Dan Aykroyd’s Julia Child more often that the actual woman) and she had fun with the role. But she didn’t deliver the performance of a lifetime.

Helen Mirren on the other hand did the same thing as Streep and Bullock. She played a woman who existed in real life and she played her well. What makes her performance different is the passion conveyed every moment she’s on the screen. It sucks you in and makes you root for her as every emotion possible plays across her face. She became Sofya Tolstoy in all every sense of the word. It will be a sin for her not to win, and that sin will be committed tonight.

Best Picture

Nominated: Up, Avatar, The Blind Side, An Education, The Hurt Locker, A Serious Man, District 9, Up in the Air, Precious, Inglourious Basterds

Will Win: Avatar

Should Win: The Hurt Locker

This is the first year that there are 10 nominees for Best Picture, and the extended field is showing it’s weaknesses. Sure, 5 might be too few a number, but 10 is way too many when films that fall short of excellence, like Inglourious Basterds are making the cut. That being said, Avatar will take this one home. Just like Titanic, Cameron is being glorified as a genius this awards season and the fact that he created an entire world with new creatures, flora, a language and characters will sway the votes towards him. There’s no doubt that the visual aspect of Avatar was amazing. It was pure eye candy. But the story falls flat as it’s been seen everywhere from animated films like Fern Gully and Pocahontas to Dances With Wolves. Conversely, The Hurt Locker proved to be a movie heaped in tension. This film has both a plot and depth as it explores a bomb squad in Iraq, both key aspects to a best picture that Avatar lacks. It wouldn’t exactly be an upset if The Hurt Locker wins, though. It’s running a close second as we get closer to show time.

Best Director

Nominees: James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarentino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

Will Win: James Cameron or Kathryn Bigelow

Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow

It’s the battle of the exes in this category as well. Both directed critically acclaimed films and both stand a decent chance of winning tonight. However, Bigelow should take this one, especially if The Hurt Locker loses out on Best Picture. Sure, Cameron directed an epic film, but most of his directing took place on a green screen and everything external to the actors was added digitally after filming. Bigelow, on the other hand, dealt with filming in the desert in Amman, Jordan. No comfy Hollywood sound stages here, Bigelow dealt with all the external forces of directing her actors in the real world.





Can Jersey Shore Rescue Leno?

4 02 2010

I’m trying not to beat The Good, The Bad and The Really Crappy’s readers over the head with my Jersey Shore love. Much of my JS commentary has moved to another blog, “Hairpoof“, but as my latest post over there is about the late night drama we decided to post it over here.

Ratings:

The Jay Leno Show – Bad

Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show – Bad

Conan O’Brien on Late Night – REALLY GOOD (unfortunately he’s not there anymore)

Jay Leno’s Tonight Show – Was good, now borders on bad due to politics.

But can Jersey Shore bump Leno’s reclaimed tonight show back to Good?

Were you Team Leno or Team Coco?

For the past month one of the hottest things in pop culture, aside from JS of course, is the drama surrounding NBC’s late night schedule.

For those who have been living under a rock, NBC and Conan O’Brien signed a deal in 2004 that would move O’Brien from Late Night to The Tonight Show once Leno retired in 2008 (as was the plan). In October 2007, Leno reevaluated his retirement plan (potentially in light of the fact that he held the number 1 spot in late night TV) and began to drop hints that he might not want to leave the entertainment world. O’Brien took over Tonight in July 2008 and Leno twiddled his thumbs until December when NBC announced that he would get his own primetime talk-show at 10 p.m. M-F. The Jay Leno Show premiered in Sept. 2009 and immediately begins to tank in ratings which hurts all of NBC’s late night shows (including local news at 11) as they no longer have a strong 10 p.m. lead-in. By Jan. 2010 there were rumors of pulling the plug and the masses reacted to the fact that there was talk of pulling O’Brien from The Tonight Show and giving it to Leno again by creating teams (which is also a hot commodity in pop culture due to Twilight’s Team Jacob or Team Edward, though the idea really originated as a phenomenon in 2005 with Team Aniston and Team Jolie during Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s break-up over Angelina Jolie).

And then the inevitable happened, NBC chased ratings and O’Brien was out for good on Jan 21 with the news that Leno would host again once the Winter Olympics ended on March 1.

Team Coco isn’t happy though. And Team Coco is predominantly the golden age for advertisers – 18-49 – with an emphasis on the younger end.

I can’t remember a time when I never heard the dulcet tones of the red-head coming from at least one dorm room in college, and Late Night was a staple of the newsroom at our student newspaper. However, Team Coco didn’t necessarily accept The Tonight Show Conan. Moving O’Brien to 11:30 might have caught a few of the older ages in the demographic but college students have set late night schedules and those schedules more often than not include Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report at 11 and 11:30.

Coco worked at 12:30 because we always inevitably remembered to change the channel to NBC sometime between Colbert and O’Brien and we enjoyed Coco then. Moving him to 11:30 screwed up the college student late night schedule. But we’re not here to argue that point.

The fact of the matter is that Team Coco is pissed at Team Leno and NBC. They believe NBC didn’t give O’Brien enough time to come into his own as The Tonight Show host and they cut him off at the knees by not providing a strong lead-in at 10 p.m. They also believe that Leno pulled a douche move by even thinking about moving back to Tonight, let alone doing so and forcing O’Brien out. Their overall disgust with how Coco was so unceremoniously thrown aside for Leno has left them with a bad taste in their mouth. A taste that NBC is afraid will cause them to change the channel and catch Letterman on CBS.

So, what can’t the young end of the 18-49 spectrum get enough of?

Jersey Shore, of course.

MTV announced yesterday (and the cast has subsequently tweeted at a near constant rate) that our favorite reality show cast (minus Vinny who isn’t feeling well, according to Zaptoit.com) is headed to LA today to film Leno. They’ll be broadcast on March 3, the third episode of his reclaimed Tonight Show.

Undoubtedly, NBC is trying to woo miffed Team Coco fans back to the Leno/Tonight Show-fold by providing them with glimpses of the cast before they begin filming for Season Two. It’s a move that has the potetial to work, I know I’ll be watching next month, but it also has the potential to be very flawed.

Why film now? The episode won’t air for over a month. Maybe NBC thinks people will forget about Sammi Sweetheart and the others during the Olympics? Not likely. And there’s no way that anything the cast or Leno says today won’t be leaked to the blogosphere by March, so where will the surprise be?

Even with the proliferation of probably everything the JS cast says on Leno to every internet news source out there won’t stop all of the fist pumping fans from tuning in. And that’s exactly what NBC hopes.

So now it’s up to the viewers? Can Jersey Shore save Leno?

Photo credit: Facebook’s “I’m With Coco” group





Jersey Shore Finale & Reunion Leaves Too Much Left Unanswered

22 01 2010

Photo courtesy of Life & Style

Anyone thinking that the MTV hit reality show Jersey Shore was going to go out with a bang might have been disappointed in its finale last night. Afterall, this is the show that habitually showed the cast partying, creepin, fist pumping and hooking up so what less could the last episode of the season bring? Unfortunately, the hard partying ways were put aside in favor of a more emotional goodbye.

Everyone (except for Pauly D, unfortunately) seemed to get their time to shine during the finale. Vinny finally got The Situation back for the cottage cheese/smelly room incident, albeit not in as nasty a fashion with his “Situation’s best girl” joke; The Situation proved just how big of a man-whore he was by creepin it on a girl who may or may not have been legal; JWoww got to chase her gorillas; Snooki brought the only glimpse of a party by living it up on the boardwalk as she talked to guys; and Sammi and Ronnie dealt with being apart for the first night since they got together due to Ronnie’s stupid actions.

Seeing the aftermath of Ronnie’s arrest at the beginning of the episode was interesting, if not a little out of place. I’ve heard from other viewers that they thought last week’s episode was running long so they changed the channel. It’s understandable that MTV would want to leave Ronnie’s arrest as a cliffhanger, it didn’t make sense to use it as a lead in to the season finale — viewers were going to be watching last night no matter what.

While I’m disappointed that the cast didn’t party it up on their last night, it was nice to see them all together at the house. If they had been at a club they would have been all over the place, but them sitting down and reminiscing about the summer was a good change of pace no matter how staged or scripted it was. Ithelps that I swear the chair Vinny was sitting in was the one I picked up from St. Vincent dePaul for my old dorm room. And here’s to hoping that The Situation’s dreams of a second season,  no matter how stale the material may become over the next few months, becomes a reality.

The cast exit was also a little awkward and stilted. Did anyone else notice that Sammi didn’t actually ever leave the house? Each person was shown hugging everyone else and peacing out, but Sammi hugged Ronnie as viewers were treated to a nauseauting vignette of their short relationship in Seaside and then he leaves, but she was never shown exiting the house, though Snooki was apparently the last one there.

And then, viewers were treated to the reunion show, which begged so many questions. Why was Angelina there? What caused Sammi’s emotional breakdown? Did Ronnie and Sammi really break up?Does the cast really hate each other? They sure seemed to last night.

Angelina left on the third episode of the show. Everyone in the house seemed happy to see her leave, and viewers at home were given a lot of time to forget she even existed. Yet, yesterday she showed up on both Rachel Ray and the reunion show. Get it through your heads MTV, no one wants her at events like that. Please don’t invite her back for a second season.

And thankfully, a quick google search led to the information that Ronnie and Sammi did NOT break up for good last night, Fox411 is reporting that they’re giving it another shot here. The information isn’t suprising as Ronnie and Sammi had a pretty volatile relationship on the shore as well. They seemed to break up more times than any healthy couple should, but as they explained last night, most people don’t start living together before they start dating. Hopefully the fact that they aren’t around each other 24/7 has led to some normalcy in the relationship.

The reunion show provided some great fist pumping memories, and the unseen footage at the end only endeared me to Snooki more. I hope that we can see her Snookin’ for Love, maybe sister-station VH1 can pick that show up….

I guess all that’s left to do is wait and see what happens to our favorite Shore friends next summer, or, if you’re lucky enough to live near a club that is being graced with their presence, to hit up the club and try to get a picture with them. Anything more than a picture would probably scare me…