[TV Review] The Office: Season Six Premier

the officeOpening Statement:

“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.

Episode Overview:

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.

Review:

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.

Final Words:

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.

Pros:

  • The Spartacus line
  • I still care about major characters

Cons:

  • Seems to be running out of gas
  • Uninteresting side-plots
  • Not as funny as it used to be

Final Score: 6.0/10

6 thoughts on “[TV Review] The Office: Season Six Premier


  1. While I thought the episode to be lacking as well, I would still hardly call it too much of a flop. I probably would have went as high as 8/10, because there were some great moments in this episode. The last season was a bit of hit or miss as well, but I’ve come to expect that from this show. Heck, after season 3, I even anticipated it. A dip in quality for the show was always in the cards. Not only did it start so strong that a drop off was obvious, the gimmick of the show also doesn’t lend itself to a long run. And, for each of the large stories they’ve had, each of them has been resolved, and no more created to replace those.

    Although for this episode, you didn’t mention Andy’s quest to find out whether or not he was actually gay, which I thought was absolutely priceless for the whole episode.

    I also agree that, for the last season or so, they have tried to make the supporting characters too in your face. The reason characters like Stanley, Creed, Meridith, & Kelly work is because they are in the background. They only need, MAYBE a line or two an episode.

    Another problem is that they’ve neutered Dwight, Jim and Pam are living happily ever after, and Michael hasn’t changed at all. There is no real tension between any character except what Michael causes.

    Though, I’m really hoping they go with my TV -show pregnancy angle I wrote a few years ago. It would involve Pam having a miscarraige, and Jim spiriling down to the depths of hell over it. He would also need an Indie film beard.


  2. Not caring about Stanley’s affair is like not caring about Oscar being gay, Meredith being an alcoholic, or about Angela and her relationships with Andy or Dwight or any of the other background character story lines they’ve been using since season 2. If you don’t care about everyone in the Office you may as well not watch it, because theres only so much you can get out of 4 main characters.


  3. @Crentist

    All the situations you mentioned I did care about because they created genuine comedic tension, especially the love triangle. They were arcs that popped up for long periods of time, as opposed to this affair, which I can’t imagine them getting any legs out of.
    I hardly meant to imply I don’t care about the side characters, I just don’t think they are currently being put into particularly interesting or funny situations.


  4. Weather the affair comes back or not is irrelevant though because, The Office has constantly done things like that (come and go situations), which still makes it the same. So how exactly is it different than the small situations that occurred consistently in the earlier seasons? I think what your trying to say is that Stanley having an affair is ‘eh, not that interesting’ but going as far as to say the show is “not as funny as it used to be” is a little absurd.

    Obviously the characters will face funnier situations as the time passes, I guess depending on what YOUR idea of “funny” is..

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