All posts tagged: NBC

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TV on Blu-ray: “The Office: Season Nine/The Farewell Season”

The Office writers and producers dug themselves into a creative hole by the end of their 8th season. The show was adrift as they tried to carry on after Steve Carell left the series. The Office was still pulling in decent ratings, so when the peacock network renewed it this wasn’t too big of a surprise. After all, many a great sitcom has outstayed their welcome. However, the network decided that season 9 would be the end for The Office, and with it’s conclusion approaching, there was an opportunity for redemption. I’d say that The Office almost redeemed itself throughout season 9. While not as consistent as previous seasons, it managed to come up with some funny and endearing moments throughout its 25 episodes. The addition of Jake Lacy as Pete and the always enjoyable Clark Duke as Clark certainty brought a youthful invigoration to the show. At times, these two played like young versions of Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Jim (John Krasinski). The plight of Angela (Angela Kinsey) and her relationship with Oscar (Oscar …

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TV First Impression: “Animal Practice”

When the POPDOSE’ers were splitting up the fall TV schedule to review, I jumped on Animal Practice with hopes of having easy fodder to maliciously savage. I became extra agitated when I tuned in last night only to discover NBC was premiering in the time slot with Episode #3 (I’m sure the other two aired around Midnight during the Olympics). Needless to say, I was shocked to discover I was engaged, laughing and utterly charmed by what I saw. First let’s clear the Achilles Heel of the series. A monkey dressed as a person. The TV staple from the 50’s through BJ & The Bear is back. Oh look at the costumes! Ain’t he adorable? He does things people do — only cuter. I can only hope the writers tire of the novelty before the audience does and this monkey is sent packing the the same place Marcel went on Friends.  Thankfully, Animal Practice has much more going for it. The writing is crisp. The show is well cast. It has a heart. That said, …

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DVD Review: “Steve Martin: The Television Stuff”

The target audience for the new Steve Martin box set will remember a time when “on-demand” meant tuning into a television program at the scheduled time, or buying tickets to go see a particular event. As the internet talking heads love to tell you, there was no Youtube and there weren’t convenient portable iPod-like devices that could store hours of video or thousands of albums in a format that you could carry around in your pocket. Life was indeed hard, looking at the above amenities that we were forced to live without, so thank goodness we had a guy like Steve Martin around to make everything all better. In a world so jaded by a box set and super deluxe edition for nearly everything you could possibly think of, Steve Martin: The Television Stuff is still pretty unbelievable. Like a lot of things that Shout! Factory releases, this box set feels a little bit too good to be true. The contents collected within the three DVD set bring together a treasure trove of Martin’s classic …

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Why We Can’t Quit The Tour de France

Cycling fans aren’t naive. Not after seeing the mysterious deaths of several cyclists at the height of the EPO craze. Not after seeing hero after hero tarnished. Tyler Hamilton, who broke away to win a stage of the 2003 Tour with a broken collarbone? Confessed to a career riddled with doping violations. Floyd Landis, who stormed back to leave everyone in his dust in a 2006 Tour breakaway ranked among the top feats in the sport’s history? Nailed in the drug test, mounted a massive defense with fans’ help but finally gave it up. Worst of all, the man whose legs built a cycling and cancer advocacy empire, Lance Armstrong, is squaring off against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in the biggest heavyweight clash since Brock Lesnar avenged his loss to Frank Mir. And yet, every summer, we tune in. The TV numbers now might not be Armstrong numbers, but they’re not bad at all. As Armstrong has given way to Tejay van Garderen and Outdoor Life Network has given way to NBC Sports Network (with …

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The Office (and Community): Get the Girl

Two relatively interesting things happened on NBC this week. The Office finally closed out its Florida arc by dragging most of the subplot’s principal characters back to Scranton and Community returned after a long, nervous hiatus. Coincidentally and with two different conclusions, both shows explored the same issue: How do we reconcile the paths life provides to us? I think the answer both shows reach is a reflection of the core sentiments the shows represent. Furthermore, I believe these sentiments explain why Community is struggling to justify a fourth season despite a small but fervent fanbase and The Office is trudging along through to a guaranteed 9th season. In essence, Community is a comedy of hope and joy while The Office has long retained its core of sadness and desperation. Since this column has been about The Office, I’ll start there. “Get the Girl” relegates the last of the Florida arc to the B-plot as Andy arrives in Tallahassee to win back Erin, who has remained there after the Sabre store project in a bid to start a new life. After …

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The Office Florida Excursion: Last Day in Florida

I may step on some critics’ toes for this statement, but I believe film will always be at least a little more respectable than television. It’s not because film attracts an inherently higher caliber of actor or is inherently better at creating strong characters, only that film has a stronger obligation to the creation of a proper story. Barring the tendency to churn out sequel after sequel of a profitable blockbuster, films are made with the understanding that they have to come to a satisfying conclusion in order to tell a good story. Characters have to change, as do circumstances and overall tone. Something has to happen between beginning and end. Television, on the other hand, is less subservient to the inevitable end. The temptation is always there to set up another season, to keep the viewers coming back to see the things they’ve loved since the beginning of the show. This is the impetus of the reset button, that tendency to end every televised plot arc with a return to the status quo. TV …

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The Office Florida Excursion: Test The Store

In the climactic scene of this week’s intriguing but ultimately problematic episode of The Office, the show provided an apt metaphor for why exactly it’s failing today more often than it’s succeeding. Jim, stepping in for Ryan, gives an all-flash, no-substance presentation to a small audience of customers and tech bloggers at Sabre’s test store. In it, the company’s new flagship product, the woefully conceived tablet The Pyramid, flashes a series of images that conspicuously don’t fit on the triangular screen. Only pyramid-shaped things (like actual pyramids) fill the screen exactly, while every other image has to tessellate awkwardly to avoid projecting empty space. It’s a clever sight gag driving home just how misguided and doomed to fail The Pyramid and Sabre are, but it’s also a reflection of the show around it. The Office is great when it does the one thing it’s any good at these days, which is deliver understated, human comedy through its talented ensemble. Everything else it tries to do just doesn’t fit, but instead of abandoning these bad concepts the show fills …

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The Office Florida Excursion: After Hours

Last week I griped about two early problems with The Office‘s Florida plot arc. I worried that, by dividing the action over so many locations, the show would stretch itself too thin to sustain a meaningful story. I also had a suspicion that the Florida segments would spend too much time with Dwight as the de facto protagonist. In every way “Tallahassee” was weak, “After Hours” was strong. Strangely enough, the episode was even more divided than last week’s and Dwight was still front and center for a lot of the action, but both of those elements shifted their focus to a more satisfying and ultimately more sustainable platform. In this show’s occasional trips to a Dwight-centric universe, the failure or success of the gag has almost always been predicated on whether Dwight has a foil on hand. Whenever he went gallivanting around with Michael, The Office turned into a cartoonish buddy comedy. Left to his own devices, Dwight always takes things into untenable craziness, as in the diminishing returns of last week’s appendicitis plot. Keep him locked …

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The Office Florida Excursion: An Introduction

The American adaptation of The Office is, in its own way, the most consistently interesting show on stateside television. It’s a network microcosm show, one that reflects the nature and fate of the network that carries it. The Sopranos was that show for HBO, from the way it served as the flagship of a new era of bold, original programming, to the way it exhibited sometimes too much ambition for its own good, to the way its controversial ending signaled a period of instability and bad decisions for the network. The Office, too, shows us what’s happening at NBC. It led the charge in the heady, late-period days of the network’s Thursday night comedy domination, only to echo NBC’s steady decline in overall quality and viewership despite ever-rarer moments of brilliance (Kings, anyone?). I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I can’t help but see a little kismet in the fact that The Office just trotted out its first promising plotline in ages in the very same week NBC crawled out of the ratings sewer it …