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Tonight’s Office and 30 Rock preview — But first, some not so nice words about the state of my favorite show

March
12

I am about to make myself very unpopular with many Office fans by saying I think the show has never been as good as it was before “Casino Night.”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s been great, just not as great as that run of 28 episodes over the first two seasons when the show had something definitive to say about the drudgery and mostly unintentional comedy of office life. It adhered to a mock documentary conceit and put character development and story ahead of sitcom cliche.

I won’t say it jumped the shark that night in May 2006 — though even Happy Days aired 100 episodes after Fonzie did just that — but I will say the show took a sharp turn away from what it set out to be and instead started becoming a very funny show with a moderately wide appeal but not a heck of a lot of what once made it great.

If it’s a criticism to call it not quite great, so be it. I still love the show, have never missed an episode and tap in to the online fandom on a daily basis. I hardly rewatch episodes anymore like I used to, though. And as much as I’ve enjoyed this season, all the episodes seem to run together with few standouts and no real sense in my mind what the overarching story is.

Think I’m crazy, confused or just plain wrong? Fair enough, but here’s someone who shares my view and expresses it very well. The writer starts out by praising how the show initially found its own identity apart from the British original while still adhering to creator Ricky Gervais’s successful formula.

The American version of The Office, however, has come to rely on conventional sitcom gimmickry – every week, there’s some new high jinks, and the characters do things that often don’t jibe with their personalities. The show’s comic centre, boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell), is spinning wildly off his axis. One week, he’s a creep, attempting to have the harmless Toby arrested for drug possession; the next week, he’s a weepy romantic, mourning the loss of recent amour Holly. The show’s resident banana peel, Scott goes where this week’s gag leads.

It’s tough to argue the point, but I’ve no doubt many will. After all, ratings remain strong, if never quite at Must-See TV levels.

And on that note, here’s what’s on tap for tonight’s episode, “Golden Ticket.”

Michael causes a huge problem in the office when he comes up with the idea to put “golden tickets” into packages of paper for clients to redeem for discounts. Andy, Jim and Pam give Kevin differing advice on wooing a woman.

If you haven’t seen the promo that features Michael in a Willie Wonka costume, you should check it out before arguing too forcefully against my thesis above.

And while we’re on the subject of shows that aren’t quite up to the level of what they once were, here’s 30 Rock‘s episode summary for “The Funcooker.”

When Liz can’t scheme her way out of jury duty, the “”TGS” cast and crew are left unmanaged. With no one in charge, Tracy and Jenna begin to act irresponsibly, while Jack becomes absorbed in launching a lucrative new product.

Now, see that looks like vintage 30 Rock to me. We shall see.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009 at 10:30 am by Brian Howard. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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