Friday, March 5, 2010

The Office Baby

Has NBC's "The Office" jumped the shark? Viewers seem to feel that the story lines are off base and wild. However, I disagree. I think the story lines are similar to what they've always been and the characters really haven't changed (with the exception of Jim and Pam). I believe the novelty of the show is wearing off. It's the same awkward situations, goofy jokes, and unreasonable behavior that The Office has always exhibited. It seems to me that you could take any episode from this season and put it into any of the first few seasons (continuity aside) and it would be just as funny as many episodes of yore.

Unfortunately, Jim and Pam have become boring. Cristina noticed it far sooner than I. They aren't as funny or captivating as they once were. It seems that the marriage and baby saga aren't enough to carry them. Simply, they aren't very funny and turn their scenes into a snooze-fest. Michael Scott, is effectively the same character he's always been; and Dwight Schrute is in the same boat as Michael. Yet Michael and Dwight's gimmicks are tiring. During this last episode Michael acts like a dork during the pregnancy and parks Jim's car in an ambulance only zone. Nothing unusual and not exciting or new. Dwight smashes up Jim and Pam's house, fighting their black mold, only to install new cabinetry: clever but not hilarious.

The Andy and new secretary tales prove annoying. I don't think viewers feel the same pull for them as they did with Jim and Pam. Andy and the new secretary are caricatures, we laugh at them not with them. What the show needs more of is Creed. He is old, maniacal, and non sequitur- in short, humorous. Ryan on the other hand is plain awful. Ryan's lines are dry, his teaming up with Dwight was contrived, and his clothing is the only thing jumping sharks.

So what can make the show better? When I think of long lasting TV comedies I think of Mash and Seinfeld. The Office is no Mash. Seinfeld is the great comedy from which to learn. It involved eccentric and normal people doing different things and meeting different people. It was their goofy interactions with a normal outside world that kept it going. Seinfeld jumped the shark when the cast was arrested, but that was the final episode- a perfect coup d'├ętat. The office in which they work is the one place that is stale and subjects viewers to the same type of jokes and routines. Think about when Jim and Pam visited Shrute Farms, when Michael held the rabies race for a cure, when Andy, Michael, and Oscar went to Canada, or when Michael drove his car into the lake whilst following the GPS. Funny, funny, and funny. Otherwise they can deliver a series finale that leaves them all in dire straits (maybe Dwight snaps and goes postal or they are sued because Michael does something irredeemably outrageous).

This past episode shortly involved a hospital and Jim and Pam's house. Boring places that added little depth to the comedic routines. Although I did find the baby mix-up scene a knee slapper. Lastly, what irritates me the most is that The Office one hour "special" removed 30 Rock from this week's line-up. Homie don't play 'dat, 30 Rock is the funniest show on television right now (excluding Mash reruns).


neverbesocial said...

Duder, I haven't watched The Office ever since Pam and what's-his-face hooked up.

But, I'm not the biggest television watcher these days. I love 30 Rock, but never watch it :(

Mr. Philippe said...

@neverbesocial definitely catch up on those 30 rock episodes. Parks and Recreation is also worth your time. Thursday nights are really the only nights I watch regular broadcast TV.

Dylan said...

I'm one of those people who say this show has jumped the shark. Like, three seasons ago. I mean, it's not terrible, it's still better than, say, According to Jim or Three and a Half Men (although they could show half-hour video of dogs vomiting on babies and it's be better than either of those shows, but you get the point), but it's definitely past its prime.

The characters have gone from oddball eccentrics that were somewhat recognizable as people you might know or have worked with/for, but have ballooned into full-blown caricatures. It's a live-action cartoon now. Which is why Jim and Pam seem so milquetoast compared to the rest of these people. They're still rooted in reality. I mean, every episode's become this "What zany thing is Michael going to do this time?" Or "Oh Dwight, he so crazy!" It's a sitcom now where it used to be a satire.

And once I reconcile myself to the fact that this is the reality of The Office, I can just relax and enjoy it a little. Plus, when it's sandwiched between Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock, my comedy buzz covers for its deficiencies.

But that's okay. I can fix The Office: more Creed.

Mr. Philippe said...

@Dylan We both agree that Creed is the man. Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see how the show may not live up to the glorious beginnings which was more of a knock-off of the British version.

After going over the IMDB quick synopsis of episodes it seems to me that the episodes have become busier. They are doing too much and involving all the characters in multiple story lines.

But yah, once you take a step back and enjoy the show for what is / has become then it's not necessary to scrutinize every action and every joke. There are moments though, like when Michael threw the keys and made the face, that made me roll my eyes in annoyance. I think next week's episode will be better they seem to have some simple things lined up that bring on the funny.