So, it turns out I may be slightly addicted to television...

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Back to the Office

Phew, for a while there I was a little worried. The Office seemed to have lost its way this year. The jokes were not as laugh out loud funny, the drama a little more intense, and Michael grew a bit of a brain. Well, actually, I enjoy what I will call "New Michael". One of the best things about The Office is its ability to take a character right to the edge, to push all the boundaries until the character becomes more like caricature and almost senseless, only to reel them back in and show you a softer, more human side.

The writers have been especially adept with the character of Michael. As a fan of the British Office, I have to say I think they've done a better job on Michael. Just when I think he's completely insane and irrational and you wonder how on earth he ever got a job in the first place, let alone keeps one as the branch manager, they give you little glimpses that suggest he is not all corniness and wackiness. Take this episode for example. Here we have Michael, whom we generally assume is the idiot boss, being asked by corporate what he is doing right. As all the other branches struggle miserably, Michael's is showing strong numbers. And for the life of them they can't figure out why. I think it's because, deep down, Michael really cares about his people and, deep down, they for him. There is a community to the Scranton branch, whether it is acknowledged or not. The episode of the Dundies comes to mind, when Michael was booed and didn't want to finish and the group rallied around him. And then the way, in his own way, he cared about Meredith's alcohol abuse. And how, when push came to shove, he finally stood up to Jan. And while I loved that he did that, I didn't love how the Jan character played out. I'm not sure they knew what they were doing with her until one day a head writer woke up and realized they probably couldn't redeem her.

However, Michael was not the main story of The Duel, this episode of The Office. The main plot centred around the Andy, Dwight, Angela love triangle that has been going on for months now. I wondered how they would sort out this mess. And it became somewhat ridiculous before Christmas when the entire office knew and Andy didn't. In fact, Andy, who had been such a funny character became something of a putz. He was hardly used any more, just as the wedding-planner-come-train-wreck-waiting-to-happen.

So Michael, finally, is the only one with the guts to tell Andy the truth, even if it's only while pulling out of the parking lot, and Andy and Dwight agree to duel for Angela. There was some very good "Jim time" in this episode. Honestly, John Krasinki's facial expressions are priceless. And I loved Jim wandering around The Office collecting weapons that Dwight had stashed. And his look when he realized what would happen if he took a sick day and left Dwight in charge. And then the final scene when Dwight pulls out the bow and arrow from under the bench and Jim is right there to collect it in the box.

And the anticlimactic conclusion to the Andy/Dwight duel was satisfactory. If not as funny as it could have been, it certainly turned the tables on Angela and has set the show up for what I think will make some funny moments in the second half of the season.

But the strength of this show lies in it's "throwaway" bits. Those moments and characters that in other shows would only be used as filler or to kill time between important shots. It's lines like the exchange between Meredith and Oscar where Meredith says she knew something bad was going to happen that day. Oscar replies "You said that yesterday." Meredith; "And my neighbour was murdered." So casual, so quick, that you would almost miss it. But not an Office fan, who is rewarded for such scrutiny with those hilarious moments. Or Oscar's "A Prius is silent under 5 miles an hour. He should win." Yes, it's the little moments in The Office; the throaway one-liner, the facial expression, the accessories on a desk. It is this that takes The Office beyond funny to sheer genius for those who take the time to spot the difference.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


So, it's been over a year since I last posted anything. It was a bit of a big year. I moved, got married, my business took off and I worked pretty much non-stop. And now for the biggest shocker: we got rid of cable.

Yup, I know, I just said the unthinkable. But you know what? It was time. It was something I felt I needed to do. Coming out of 2007 I felt pretty let down by television and the people who create it. I had watched Gilmore Girls turn to crap, saw the cancellation of Alias and then Veronica Mars and watched horrific reality shows take over the airways. I'm sorry, I just can't stand anything that has a camera follow around some rich, un-famous person that tries to pass itself off as stimulating TV but is only on because it takes 1/10 of the brains, creativity and money of a scripted show.

Online I continued to watch The Office and I'd tune in to CBC for Little Mosque on the Prairie (my ray of sunshine in an otherwise colourless tv-world). Even then, I didn't feel compelled to write about anything. Nothing really inspired me.

And then, little by little, TV won me back. It started with Stargate Atlantis. I had always held the show in high regard. I never watched the original Stargate SG-1, I don't watch Battlestar Galactica, I'm not a trekkie, and counter to what my husband would tell you, I don't consider myself a geek. But I love Stargate Atlantis. I love that the smartest character is Canadian, and even though Rodney is an annoying pain he's so much fun to watch "Zed PM, sorry Zee PM. I'm Canadian." I love watching John Sheppard do just about anything, and later my love-affair expanded to include Ronon. I loved the strong roles the women played, I loved the Scottish doctor. But most of all, I loved how it never took itself too seriously, even going so far as to make fun of Star Trek. It had the same sarcastic, clever writing that I liked about Veronica Mars. Only it stood a better chance because the SciFi network isn't the retarded snail the CW is.

Then CTV started showing episodes of ER online, and I got back into that. I had strayed from ER after Noah Wylie's departure, but suddenly it seemed interesting again, even if I had to struggle through John Stamos' arrival. And I've always been a huge fan of Parmider Nagra since Bend it Like Beckham.

And then it happened. My husband and I were in Cape Cod and were watching TV in our hotel room (it's become such a novelty since we don't have cable) and we accidentally caught the season 4 opener of The Unit. We were hooked. Fish, line and sinker. I got season 1 for Christmas and we watched it in 3 days. We're midway through season 2 now. And I continue to keep up with season 4. I can't really explain why I am so in to this drama - military dramas not usually being my thing. Part of it is Scott Foley, not going to lie, but it's just...good. I mean, the continuity aspect isn't so great, but I love covert ops and I love the wives stories at home and the whole thing just makes for some entertaining viewing.

Well, The Unit just opened the floodgates. Suddenly I found myself tuning in to 90210 - I told myself it was because I wanted to see how the US ripped off Degrassi (and they did - even stealing their lead and head writer) but now I admit it's my guilty pleasure. I was not an original fan, probably a bit too young to fully appreciate the original, but I have to admit, there's some good stuff going on there. I love Silver's witty remark's, I like Dixon and Aidriana. I loved how they did Spring Awakening as their school play - though completely unbelievable having watched the show on Broadway, no school would ever allow a musical where the kids all sing "Totally Fucked"

And then I got back into Law & Order SVU after finally finding a reliable web source... And then Scrubs. So, I admit, I'm back to being a TV junkie. So that means, I'll probably have more to say this year.

Beginning with my disappointment at the cancellation of Stargate Atlantis and how awesome was the season opener of Scrubs when Dorian tells them that even though it's been eight years they need to bring back the energy from when they started. And then the comment on The Nielsen's. I laughed!!! And then I logged on to Blogger. It took that episode of Scrubs to remind me why I love TV and why I love to write about it.

But, that's for another day.

Today I say, welcome back my friends. The romance has been reignited.