This week we’re looking back on the just completed/completing seasons of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. Today we check in the senior member of the team, ‘The Office.’
For quite some time we were religious with our Office recaps, but then two things happened 1) we were working a paid job more than full-time and 2) the show became, well, inessential. We hoped to check-in during Steve Carell’s final season, but analyses was few and far between. But even though we weren’t providing regular reviews, the series was still required viewing. We might not follow-up the next morning with our thoughts, but we were still going out of our way to watch it Thursday night, as much out of habit as desire. But this season, with Carell’s Michael Scott off to Colorado, the show became the least appealing, least critical member of the lineup. Wait til Friday to watch Community? We’d rather not. Skip an episode of Parks and Rec? No way. But go a week without watching the latest The Office? Sure. View an episode of Robert California’s Dunder Mifflin out-of-order? Fine. We just didn’t care that much anymore.
But a funny thing happened at the end of The Office’s eighth season. We were actually invested. We almost felt things, things that just nearly came close to approximating the real emotions that the show’s best seasons elicited. For the first time all year, the series seemed to find its voice.
Doing our due diligence we’ve been watching the trailers for the new series picked up by the big four networks for their respective fall seasons. Some have been promising, some dead on arrival, and others just somewhere in between. But there was one – NBC’s new JJ Abrams sci-fi thriller Revolution – that particularly caught our eye. However, it wasn’t the premise or the cast or the special effects that piqued our interest. No, it was the last few seconds of the trailer, an insert of the title over a grand wide shot of earth from outer space that stuck with us. We couldn’t shake the feeling that we’ve seen this before on NBC. In fact, it appears that this is a well that NBC has been returning to for decades. You hear a lot these days about how there are no new ideas, but this is a little excessive.
We’d suggest that there’s some kind of corporate conspiracy, or at least mandate, owing to NBC’s ties with Universal (the gold standard in spinning globes), but they didn’t merge under the same umbrella until 2004, so perhaps it is just a lack of imagination.