Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Office and the impending pink slip

The American reincarnation of The Office ended its initial 6 episode run Tuesday night with its future in limbo. I hope it gets picked up at least for at least another mini-season. It would be a shame if NBC kills it for the low ratings (when you're going up against House on Fox and The Amazing Race on NBC, what do you expect?). It deserves a chance in a more forgiving timeslot.

This isn't to say that The Office will be appointment TV for me if it comes back in the fall. I'm past the unavoidable comparison with the original and I like it well enough. But I came away from the season finale feeling a bit unsatisfied. It seemed like the writers couldn't decide whether to emphasize the ennui and resignation that drove the British version, or the Steve Carrell-led wackiness to appeal to the American audience. Instead they settled for somewhere in between.

Some of the humor, particularly Carrell's Michael and Dwight were just too over the top for a documentary that otherwise tried to be realistic. I may be wrong here though. Maybe there are managers like Michael who are over-the-top overbearing and oblivious. Maybe offices do have equally charmless brown nosers like Dwight. Still, the funniest moments were the quiet, almost throaway ones.

And while the finale didn't pack as many laughs per minutes as the other episodes, it was the most likable one, as it got deeper into each character's madness, something the British Office did gradually. We see Michael's loneliness and his use of "ball busting" as a defense mechanism, Jim stop playing the class clown and Pam's bff for once, and Pam giving to a relationship that gives little in return.

The show isn't quite there yet, but how many shows are after 6 episodes? Sitcom historians will surely see a parallel with another NBC series that tested poorly and had a so-so six-episode mini season but still got another season because the execs believed in it. That show is, wait for it, Seinfeld. Let's hope The Office gets another chance too.

  • The Prez speaks at 8:30 ET in another attempt to sell the Social Security scam among other things. Fox is preempting The OC, reportedly. I would usually be more upset about it, but right now, not so much. I know OC recaps are/were a regular feature here but I'm losing my interest, slowly but surely. The biggest reason? They're changing Seth Cohen?

    Look, I realize his thing is wanting what he can't have but you can't have him be a reluctant comic book artist who suddenly decides to put his career ahead of Summer to the point that he misses a Death Cab show. And Summer, I love you baby, but commenting on an implausible doesn't make it any more plausible. Please ask Schwartz for better lines.

    There, that's my recap.

    Still, I will be upset when I don't hear Phantom Planet at 8:05 pm or if Ryan Atwood turns into Dubs at 8:30.

  • I wanted to catch Stars at the Bowery last night but my body was not cooperating. Diarrhea, if you must know. But to be honest, I only like one song on the album and it was more curiosity than anything else. They're playing in BK again and I'm sure theyll be back in town again.

  • I don't know what to think of this: Death of a Dynasty. I can appreciate Dash's willingness to skewer himself but I couldn't justify paying any amount of money to see this.

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