Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cause of Death: Brick

For some reason, NBC doesn't have an official
photo of the entire current cast. So here is a regular
photo from the 2011 Christmas episode.
There's been a lot of news lately about the once-hit NBC series The Office. The Office premiered midseason in 2005 to rave reviews and soon became NBC's most popular comedy and an anchor show in their venerable Must See Thursday Nights. But starting with the seventh season, things happened that didn't bode well for the show. Star Steve Carell decided to leave which left writers and producers scrambling to find a replacement manager. First they brought in Will Ferrell in a four episode arc before putting him in a coma then they had Rainn Wilson's Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) become the manager before shooting off a gun and damaging Andy's (Ed Helms) eardrum. Then they had an entire hour-long episode based on Jim, Toby and Gabe (John Krasinski, Paul Lieberstein, Zach Woods) finding a new manager. That episode boasted such names as Will Arnett, Warren Buffett, James Spader, Catherine Tate, Ricky Gervais (creator and star of the original UK Office), Ray Romano and Jim Carrey. The new boss wasn't revealed until the eighth season premiere and, not really to my surprise, they chose Andy. Actually they chose James Spader's character, Robert California, but California somehow fanagled his way to a promotion and then gave Andy the job.

That they even had to give Andy the promotion in a roundabout way bothered me. And while I was excited that James Spader would be a semi-regular, that excitement quickly went away as California became more and more annoying. But other things quickly began happening that tells me this series is coming to an end. I heard early in the season that Rainn Wilson wanted to leave the series. They are now developing a spin-off series focusing on Dwight working at Schrute Farms. They then sent a bunch of the staff to Florida to open a Sabre store. During their time in Florida, Dwight got promoted, Ryan (B.J. Novak) realized how much he needs Kelly (Mindy Kaling), Jim actually enjoyed pretending to be an imitation Steve Jobs, Erin (Ellie Kemper) became a live-in helper to an elderly woman and Stanley (Leslie David Baker) had the time of his life in Florida. Had the Sabre store worked out, I could've definitely seen Jim and Pam (Jenna Fischer) move to Florida for Jim to be the new Sabre spokesperson, Stanley retire and move to a warmer climate and Ryan and Kelly finally tying the knot.

But something else happened. California nixed the Sabre store idea and everybody went back to Scranton--even Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) who was up for the regional manager job in the seventh season finale. Tate's Nellie was a serious contender to be a replacement but I found just her five minute appearance on the finale to be overdone, annoying and not at all funny. Everyone else it seemed, loved her. Nellie returned to Scranton and essentially usurped Andy's job. Andy was skipping work to go find Erin and is unable to complain and Robert California is too impotent to order Nellie out of the job.

But I still feel as if the writers are leading up to The Office coming to an end after this season. Everything I mentioned above could still happen. Andy could still lose his job. Dwight could find Nellie's methods underwhelming and quit Dunder Mifflin. What we know for sure is that James Spader is leaving after this season. We also have Mindy Kaling starring in her own series on FOX next season and executive producer and Toby actor Paul Lieberstein is also leaving to focus on the Dwight Schrute spin-off. While Helms and Krasinski are close to signing on for season 9, both are suggesting that if there is a ninth season, it will be the last.

I don't think Charlie Brown ever said "I like Ike" but this strip is spot on. I love "Peanuts" but I don't like seeing the reruns in the newspaper. It makes me sad and keeps newer strips from finding an audience.

Speaking of strips that make me sad:
I would like to think Cousin Ignatz's name is a tribute to George Herriman's Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse but more than likely Chip just chose a funny name.

Why does Brutus' instincts immediately lead him to "do you think he left you stuff in his will?" That seems pretty selfish even for Brutus.