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Am I Still Watching "The Office"?

I wasn't planning on continuing to write about NBC's The Office; my obsessive zeal for the series has sadly become something more akin to continued disappointment, something that many of my readers have indicated as well.

When I didn't comment on the latest installment ("Night Out"), I got a few emails from readers curious if I had in fact finally given up on the series altogether. It's safe to say that I haven't tuned out completely but the above statement holds true. I don't expect a lot from the series anymore, which has devolved into a sad shadow of itself, a thinly veiled sitcom that has now begun mining comedy from the wacky "situations" the characters find themselves in week to week (a beet farm! an NYC nightclub! a dinner party!) rather than the characters themselves.

The Office
did used to move outside of the confines of the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton offices every now and then and when they did, it was a novel conceit that separated the mundane 9-to-5 existence that defined these characters... and provided the basis for much of the series' humor. And at its heart, that was what I loved most about the series. It wasn't scenes like this week's over the top cold open--which found Michael getting a peanut butter shampoo from Dwight to remove chewing gum from his hair--but scenes that cut to the bone about the quotidien repetition of these characters' lives, interspersed with a (more) realistic zaniness.

This week's episode was written by Mindy Kaling, whom I still think of as one of the series' most talented writers (along with Michael Schur). While I did find the A-story (Michael and Dwight surprise a coked-up Ryan in Manhattan and go clubbing with him) way OTT, it was the episode's B-story that actually did remind me of the series' glory days: after Jim hatches a plan to keep the Scranton branch working late Friday night (so they won't have to come in on Saturday), the gang discovers that they've been locked in... and quickly turn on super-couple Jim and Pam.

There were some genuinely squirm-inducing and yet funny moments here (the type that the series used to excel at), like when Toby boldly put his hand on Pam's knee--sitting next to Jim, no less--and then got so nervous, he announced he was moving to Costa Rica and then hopped the fence. Or Creed being right about the black security guard's name. Or even the gang getting upset with Pam was a novel conceit (she threw a football and hit Meredith in the face), though I am getting a little tired of Meredith being the office punching bag.

And yet it wasn't enough for me to come back around. I'll still finish out this season of The Office but I no longer look forward to the series each week and that is a sad testament to the level of disinterest I'm maintaining with this once-great series. Can they rediscover that spark again next season? Let's hope so but I won't be holding my breath...

On the next episode of The Office ("Did I Stutter?"), Stanley barks at Michael during a meeting, causing Michael to try to change Stanley's attitude; meanwhile, Dwight tries to buy Andy's car and Pam spends the night at Jim's but discovers an unexpected inconvenience.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Big Bang Theory/How I Met Your Mother (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC; 8-10 pm); Gossip Girl (CW); Dancing With the Stars (ABC; 8-9:30 pm); Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/Rules of Engagement (CBS); One Tree Hill (CW); Samantha Who? (ABC; 9:30-10 pm); House (FOX)

10 pm: CSI Miami (CBS); Medium (NBC); The Bachelor: London Calling (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Gossip Girl.

The naughty teen soap continues tonight with a brand new episode! On tonight's episode ("Desperately Seeking Serena"): Serena's former partner in crime Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg) returns to Manhattan, Nate falls for social outcast Vanessa (no!), and Jenny meets a guy who could ensure her permanent popularity. I can't wait!

Comments

Anonymous said…
I stopped watching when the show went off the air during the strike and I don't miss it at all now.
Anonymous said…
My question is, are you still watching Battlestar Galactica this season? I have to admit, the episodes this season have been kind of disappointing. Though the most recent episode had some great character moments with Chief Tyrol.
Unknown said…
Good question! Personally, I'm weary of BSG's incessant religious fervor. With the mystical this and the miracle that and the proselytizing, I'm beyond bored. It's sad when the only interesting characters are the Cylons themselves (the Original Recipe Cylons like Six and Three, not the four new Extra-Crispy Cylons). And I'm really not looking forward to Leoben coming back. Ugh.
Anonymous said…
The last Office episode did have some bright points but I definitely do not look forward to the show anymore in the same way I used to. In fact, I always watch The Office first and then 30 Rock in case I need cheering up after a dismal episode. I know that 30 Rock will always make me laugh!
Anonymous said…
Sigh.

Agreed, agreed, agreed.
Anonymous said…
Maybe it's just me, but I've found the post-strike episodes to be some of the series's best.
The CineManiac said…
I still watch The Office, while the show is no longer as good as it used to be I still enjoy it.
Dwight with the College Amazon was great.
Also I have new respect for Meredith (Kate Flannery) as she answered my MySpace message for some swag to auction off for my friend.

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