Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Laying off "The Office"

So, Steve Carell has announced that he is leaving NBC's marquee sitcom, "The Office" after this coming season. Carell's a talented guy, but I'm glad he's moving on. His departure may ring the death knell for the show, but I think it's time anyway. Pack up the docu-comedy cameras, kids, and good riddance to the insecurely egotistical character of Michael Scott, the manager everyone loves to hate.

Well, maybe everyone except me.

Over time, I've just come to hate him. There's less and less "love" in my painful observation of his behavior. I laugh infrequently now, and I shudder more. Yeah, I get that we're supposed to be appalled by Michael's ineptitude and boorishness, yet pity his wretchedness. But, honestly, my willing suspension of disbelief is no longer willing.

I've reached a point where I just really want someone to:

1. fire his ass
2. slap him with a workplace harassment suit
3. coldcock him for being such a big weasel

I would also like for Jim to take some calcium tablets and strengthen his spine. And for Dwight to be canned and/or arrested for some of the crap he's pulled.

Yes, I know it's just a TV show. And yes, I can just turn the channel. But after a viewing investment of several seasons, you still want it to be as good as it once was; the decline starts to wear on you more than a little. Just like Michael Scott's obnoxiousness.

I know the writers want to keep their jobs. And, in order to keep their jobs, they will churn out what the network wants/needs. The network, in turn, needs to appeal to the largest common denominator groups that punch their Nielsen buttons and buy the cars and fast food and alternatives to The Pill that they advertise. (Side note: anyone else terrified by the side effects listed in those ads for Mirena, the intrauterine device? HOLY SHIT! That is the stuff of nightmares!!)

So, the network asks the writers to keep churning out "Michael Scott is an HR horror story who still manages to keep a job and his staff stays on board, despite many opportunities to sue him and the whole company" scripts for a group of increasingly one-note characters. And, after this coming season? Well, there's the problem - you can't really lay a foundation for success with a group of one-note characters left in the wake of Carell's departure.

It's a tired premise. And - speaking as someone who was once in a real-life miserable work situation - increasingly frustrating to watch. It's just not all that funny anymore. Are there still moments of comedic brilliance and warmth? Sure. But they come in flashes now (take Andy and Erin's romantic kiss in the middle of the city dump.) I don't fault the writers as much as I fault the network for not knowing when to say "when." Take a page from the UK TV playbook, NBC. Know when to stop flogging your superior workhorse before it actually *is* dead.

I'm just not feeling the pathos anymore.

And, seriously, what documentary team is hanging around this one office so long? That's a production team that maxed out their personal credit cards (and their parents' credit cards!) a long time ago. Sundance? Christ, if they were real, they'd be doing a pole dance soon to make rent!

It's time to downsize the Scranton office. And Michael Scott? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, son.

1 comment:

Washington Cube said...

There's something shifty and anxious around Steve Carrell's eyes, so I've never been able to watch him as an actor. I haven't seen one episode of The Office, so can't comment on the show. I suppose I never got into it, because I've worked in so many dysfunctional offices, it would only depress me.

and my word verification is "dropolog." Huh. Now THAT is funny.