“The Office,” the once great American remake of the former great British series of the same name, has been spinning its wheels a bit over the past couple seasons, leading to a very noticeable dip in hilarity. If last nights season six premier is any indication, an up-kick in said hilarity may be a ways away.
The main course of action picked up from last year is that Jim and Pam are going to have a baby. So as not to create a stir, they decide to keep the pregnancy a secret. Naturally, this goal isn’t easily obtained.
Things come unglued after Michael, feeling burned about being left out of office gossip circles, spreads a rumor he heard about Stanley, a salesman, cheating on his wife. When this turns out to be true, Michael is fearful he could possibly have ruined Stanley’s life, so he formulates a plan to start several false rumors about everyone in the office so they will discredit any real ones. But of course, one of the rumors he starts is that Pam is pregnant.
My biggest complaint off hand is that this simply isn’t a strong plot line. It all seems very contrived and built on simply getting to the pregnancy revelation rather than reaching any heights of hilarity. This isn’t the biggest problem though, because all comedy is contrived, so naturally, if I am complaining about contrivances, the episode just must not have been funny.
There were a few funny moments. I laughed out loud when Michale claimed the ending to “Spartacus” made it one of the great whodunit’s of all time. And the last segment where a departing Dunder Mifflin intern complained about how Michael always told him he looked like Alan Thicke was a solid ending gag. But aside from that, things mostly felt flat. Nothing was embarrassingly unfunny, but aside from the jokes above, nothing great either.
And lastly, a big portion of the plot line relied on the viewer to care about Stanley’s extra-marital affair. Stanley is an ok supporting character, and he’s perfectly funny when he’s dead-sprinting towards the elevator to obtain a free pretzel, but as to him having an affair? Who gives a shit?
I had a conversation about this show with a friend-esque personality recently, who stated they believed the show was dipping because it was putting too much emphasis on putting supporting characters at the forefront of episodes when they were funnier popping in and out of the background. And since there’s nothing more credible than a critic (be they serious or casual) who admits in print he’s stolen someone else’s opinion, I think my “friend” hit it right on the head. None of the major supporting characters have ever really been set up in a way that we care about them as anything more than comic fodder, so when we’re asked to take an interest in them personally, it doesn’t work.
All of these analytical insights I’ve (unsuccessfully) attempted to articulate into a thorough review are meaningless because the main reason I’m complaining is that the show just isn’t as funny as it used to be. There was a fresh, manic energy to past episodes (most notably those in seasons two and three) that made this show more than a pale imitation of the beloved British original.
Well, for the time being, that freshness is unfortunately missing. I haven’t fully given up hope “The Office” will return to form, but at this point I’m not exactly beaming with optimism either.
- The Spartacus line
- I still care about major characters
- Seems to be running out of gas
- Uninteresting side-plots
- Not as funny as it used to be
Final Score: 6.0/10