Daily Archives: 2010/10/01

‘The Office’: Mindgames & Makeovers

We won’t say that The Office is entirely back on track, but this week was definitely a marked improvement over the season premiere.  While we were at first disappointed to see that they were going to carry over the Michael spanking his nephew storyline – or as Michael refers to it, “corporate punishment” – because we rejected the ridiculous premise, this episode showed that perhaps in this instance there will actually be consequences to Michael’s actions.

(one quibble, however: the dictum that Michael would need to complete counseling with Toby came at the end of last week’s episode, in the final closing segment usually reserved for gags or non-essential content (or, on Community, raps), so the veracity of the punishment was in question.  We’re happy that they followed through with this plotline, but it shouldn’t have been introduced so offhandedly.  But we digress…)

The Michael-Toby dynamic has remained relatively stable over the course of the series, and by returning to and exploring this relationship “Counseling” was a success, allowing Toby to obtain a small victory over Michael by tricking him through children’s games into opening up emotionally, and by permitting Michael to continue his crusade against Toby, but not because he harbors a completely unjustified vendetta, but because, in a way, Toby is his arch-enemy, the Joker to his Batman.  “Counseling” sets them up as worthy competitors, not just petty rivals.  And while we hate to belabor the point that we’ve made on this blog over and over again that defensive, vulnerable Michael = good, and horrible, viscous Michael = bad, this episode certainly follows that pattern and supports that argument.

More: Who are these people and what have they done with the employees of Dunder Mifflin? A side-by-side comparison…

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Filed under Analysis, Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam, Good Humor

In Memoriam: Stephen J. Cannell

Fuck. That’s about all we can say about this one.

Back in the late 80s, pre-Simpsons, there were exactly two shows on FoxMarried with Children and 21 Jump Street.  The latter was brought to us by the legendary Stephen J. Cannell.  We were too young at the time to fully appreciate his already cemented TV legacy – creator of The Rockford Files, The A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Baretta, among others – but we knew that we loved his undercover cop drama, and we also grew to recognize the Stephen J. Cannell Productions logo at the end  of his shows as a symbol of quality programming.  In the 80s it ran neck-a-neck with “Sit, Ubu, sit,” for foremost production company tag, but we always found Cannell’s footnote to be the gold standard, a warm, fuzzy blanket, a comforting old friend.  And when we heard that crescendo and saw the typewriter paper flying at the conclusion of later favorites like The Commish and Silk Stalkings, we knew we were in the capable hands of one of the all-time masters, a TV titan.

We’ll leave the in-depth retrospectives and the analysis of his influence on current television to the real critics, those who have a better appreciation for the breadth of his career.  So we’ll just say thanks for the great stories and compelling characters, and we’ll always yearn to see you at your typewriter, finishing a script with a flourish.

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Filed under In Memoriam, Jump Streets Ahead, Nostalgia Corner

Check Out Bryan Cranston’s ‘SNL’ Promos

Just kidding!  Here they are.  Just be thankful I didn’t mention this.  Or this.  Actually, you’re welcome for that last one.

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Filed under Saturday Night Live, Seinlanguage