Medium: ‘The Office’


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I would seriously consider marrying Michael Scott. Yes, he’d embarrass me by heckling waiters at nice restaurants, and sure, he’d teach our children skewed moral lessons and insulting jokes, but to receive the myriad of awkward gifts he’d bestow upon me on anniversaries would make it worth it.

Keep that in mind as you read the following.

“The Office” made its return Jan. 21 with a highly disappointing clip show, featuring only about five or six minutes of new scenes, all which were intended to set up old footage.

It reminds me of the time I waited eight weeks to see my boyfriend, was promised a nice evening out, then driven to Red Lobster and forced to watch him order “the cheapest beer possible” (Busch Light) and get drunk (off three). I feel for “The Office” the same way I felt then — let down in a major way and quite aware that the love affair had run its course.

I think back to the glory days of “The Office” (Dunderball, Diversity Day, when Michael burned his foot on a George Foreman grill) and struggle to pinpoint the beginning of the end.

First to blame is Jim and Pam’s established relationship. Jim’s early season adorableness stemmed from his and Pam’s clever pranks on Dwight, their campy flirting scenes, and all the sheepish camera glances in between. The show’s lovable tension lied mostly in the moments when we all thought — or squealed — “they are sooo cute together.” Now married, the fun’s over. The couple have lost their appeal in the same way “Friends” characters Ross and Rachel lost audience interest the moment they finally did the deed, so to speak.

Someone must also be held accountable for Michael’s character development. Although he’s prided himself on self-inflicted uncomfortable circumstances, the writers have stretched this one-dimensional gag too far.

Take this season’s “Scott’s Tots” episode, in which Michael broke the news to underprivileged high-school kids that he wasn’t going to pay their promised college tuition. It was all the pain and none of the hilarity. So what’s next? Michael assaulting a pregnant mother? The writers are pushing his ignorant archetype into an outlandish other world, where socially inept sitcom bosses go to die.

Maybe the fault lies simply in, well, the office. Only so much entertainment can be had from the same oddball characters existing in the same bored office, having the same clumsy (albeit comical) conference-room conversations.

For those already drafting and addressing hate mail toward me, might I remind you of my commitment to Scott and the rest of Scranton’s Dunder-Mifflin branch. Since its première in the spring of 2005, the show’s done wonderful things for mockumentary-style cold-opens and camera eye contact. More than that, Phyllis, Oscar, Andy, Kelly Kapoor, and all the other office misfits have kept me warm on otherwise cold, lonely Friday nights.

It’s too bad “The Office” had to take me on that metaphorical Red Lobster date. At least there are other fresh, exciting characters now living inside my TiVo, such as Liz Lemon of “30 Rock” and Phil Dunphy of “Modern Family.”

To steal a few words from Robert Frost — nothing Golden Globes can stay.

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