Thursday, February 04, 2010
I Think I Made a Mistake
Anyway, the discussion never quite recovered from my saying I hated reality shows -- bad teacher; shut uuuup -- and we settled on the U.S. version of The Office, which I like for reasons I will post about when the kids have done their reviews. Tonight's episode was ground zero, and it was a transitional episode, not all that funny, filled with plot business to set up new situations and new conflicts to keep the gears turning.
One of the amusing ideas in TV criticism is The Jumping of the Shark, that moment when a long-running show has a character or characters do something that represents not invention but creative exhaustion, that moment from which there is no recovery.
Has The Office jumped the shark this season? I'm going to have to think about that.
If you are invested in the Office characters, you're are glad -- at least, provisionally -- that there's some new angst in the series collective pants. Kathy Bates is the new boss (with a Southern accent) because there's been a buyout, and buyouts are in the news, or at least were in the news a year or two or three -- okay, a president -- ago. Maybe there will be a new twist on the sitcom's preferred trope -- Steve Carell's nonsense vs. someone else's no-nonsense.
Actually, there's been very little no-nonsense in any of The Office's subordinate characters, which has taken the edge off Michael Scott's obnoxiousness. (I think this is an important difference between U.S. Office and the U.K. original, where Ricky Gervais really did make me cringe, sometimes with sympathy.)
We'll see. The students who have never seen the show must be wondering where the charm lies. I'll push back the due date and let them fold in next week's episode. If I were a new viewer, I'd lay my hands on the first couple episodes and do a little comparison and contrast, not to mention dragging in a little Marxist analysis of how subversive entertainment often isn't.
There's room, young people. There's opportunity. When in doubt, snark.