Just one of our routine check-ins to see if Jimmy Fallon and Late Night are still killing, just in case you were concerned they were getting cocky or complacent after being named The Tonight Show successors. Let’s take a look.
Nope. Still killing it. Good job, guys. Everyone on the floor as well.
It dawned on us a couple of weeks back when we caught Forgetting Sarah Marshall on TV (and cemented this past weekend when we suffered through The Muppet Christmas Carol on The Hub), that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jason Segel, as he’s almost single-handedly saved the Muppets.
Read on: The dark days of the Muppets and Segel as their Moses
It’s official! As we, and everyone else on the Internet, predicted, Paul Rudd is joining his Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You Man co-star Jason Segel in The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made (but we maintain we called it first). As soon as word leaked the Segel was writing the movie with his Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, we began speculating which members of the Apatow-verse would be joining in, and Rudd was at the top of the wish list. When we learned that Apatow-charter Rashida Jones and comedian of the moment Zach Galifiniakis were also slated to appear, Rudd seemed like an inevitability. And, now, according to Production Weekly, it’s a reality, with Rudd on board to voice the new “anything Muppet” Walter, who, as we previously noted, will portray Segel’s roommate in the movie. And this, even without any direct Judd Apatow involvement, cements The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made‘s status on the Judd Apatow Chart.
But that’s not all! Production Weekly also reports that fellow Apatow-charters Jack Black and Jane Lynch are in, as is Rashida Jones’ former TV flame John Krasinksi (who we suggested over a year ago might make for a great Muppet), Krasinki’s Office co-star (as well as Galifiniakis’ Hangover castmate) Ed Helms, Krasinski and Helm’s NBC Thursday night comedy brother Donald Glover, and Danny Trejo, who cameo’d in the Apatow-produced Anchorman (and Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, whom we’re having trouble connecting to the rest of the cast). So in a word: WOW.
Oh, and Lady Gaga, apparently. Whatevs.
Here’s a preview of what the Muppet-Rudd collaboration might look like:
In last night’s The Office episode, “Viewing Party” Michael comes to view Gabe’s presence as a direct threat to his power, and subsequently sabotages said viewing party of Glee. But wasn’t Michael Scott all in a dramatic tizzy a couple weeks back because he felt that Darryl was challenging his authority? That just happened, right? And he had the same reaction to Charles Miner (the indomitable Idris Elba) a couple of seasons ago, didn’t he? And last year he grew petulant because co-manager Jim gave Phyllis permission to dress as Santa for the Christmas party, in turn sending Michael on a holiday cheer sullying temper tantrum. Which is to say, we’ve seen it before, and, we think, we’ve seen enough.
Continue: The eventual Michael Scott departure, more sweet than bitter? Plus, Kevin in a blanket and Kelly Kapoor nails it…
With a new The Office tonight, we wanted to repost, by itself, the Office then-and-now comparisons we included in last week’s recap. We felt it deserved its own moment in the sun.
The transformation of Dwight [in last week’s episode] reminded us of a troubling trend within the show itself. While this episode showed Dwight being made over into a glasses-less, monochromatic tie-free aristocrat, The Office has to some degree been making over Dwight and its other characters over the course of its run. Characters should grow and change and evolve, but it should always serve the story. However, if you look at the physical appearances of the actors, they look more glamorous and polished now than they did at the start of the series, and not necessarily because the characters have improved their style. It’s a concerning phenomenon, and we hope it doesn’t point to the actors themselves, the stars of the shows, objecting to the dour, depressing style that defined the early seasons of the show and its progenitor. Behold, a side-by-side comparison:
Like we said, characters change, that’s a given. Their looks, their hairstyle, their clothes, their personality all change. We want that. We don’t want static characters. That’s lesson #1. But, at the same time, it would be disappointing if the appearance of these characters is due in part to the actors’ vanity. Are we seeing Jim Halpert or John Krasinski? The UK original was known for its gritty look, an anti-network sheen, bordering on depressing. And the first two seasons of the American version adhered to this (albeit in a less severe form), allowing for somewhat schlubby characters and grubby visuals (as much as network TV allows). But over time that’s changed, and the show glistens now in a way it didn’t before. And in some respects the storylines and tone have changed as well, gussied up and simplified. Now the show doesn’t need to return to its original look, throw out the new wardrobe and ban make-up. But it needs to remember where it came from. And where it originally was going.
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…
Someone once told me that they heard John Krasinksi was not that nice in real life. I had assumed he was as affable and endearing as his The Office alter-ego, and found this rumor very disappointing. It meant that he was a very good actor, but perhaps not a very good person. However, after seeing his charming appearance on The Tonight Show (the one that airs at 11:30pm), my doubts have been removed and I feel confident that if we ever met we’d get along famously. Just watch him demonstrate his human marionette impression for Conan and then try to tell me this guy isn’t the salt of the Earth. I don’t think you could do it.
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You should probably also check out part one of the interview.