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…

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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