Friday, January 22, 2010

Clip Show? Seriously?

Let me start off by saying that I haven't found the new season of The Office to be particularly compelling. The two big storylines this year- "Jim's now a boss too!" and "Dunder Mifflin's in trouble!"- have been pretty blah. I don't know why they decided to change Jim's character so fundamentally; he was always supposed to be our anchor, our window into this wacky little world. And now he's... I don' even know what. The Man, I guess. Anyway, his struggles to be taken seriously by the staff as the new co-manager is just not that interesting, and I even relate to that, having been in that situation a time or two myself. And then there's the other thing... Dunder Mifflin's in trouble... who cares, really?

I also think that the writers have run out of funny ideas for the characters. The only thing they've done this year that stand out is to try and recapture the old Pam and Jim Unspoken Crush dynamic with Andy and Erin ( Oh, and have Ryan wear funny outfits. Seriously, that's what they've been doing, having Ryan in some crazy getup each week. That's it. No jokes or anything, just Ryan and his bow tie or glasses or... who cares, really?

I think that Parks and Recreations has really hurt The Office. Not just because they lost Mike Schur (AKA Mose Schrute, AKA Ken Tremendous of Fire Joe Morgan and the writer of this and this. Really, I think this whole post is just an excuse to link to my two favorite Fire Joe Morgan posts. That's a victory in and of itself.), but because Parks and Recreations has so completely co-opted The Office's formula that the latter no longer seems remotely special. The fact that Parks and Recreations is seemingly not remotely funny in the least (in fairness, I've only watched two episodes, but the only thing that made me laugh was Will Arnet, as a guest star) makes The Office seem less funny, somehow. As if they pointed out that The Office was really just a pseudo-documentary about a bunch of goofy characters stuck with a bumbling boss, and you could do that with anyone, really. Heck, maybe NBC should have tried to get Jay Leno to give it a shot.

But I digress. Yes, I realize this is my opening, and so I haven't really digressed from anything, but I digress. Last night The Office hit what was, let's hope, the nadir in this season of discontent by running a clip show. You all know what a clip show is, right? I mean, it even has it's own Wikipedia entry. So I don't have to explain that a clip show is where a long running series spends an entire episode running clips from old episodes, loosely supported by a framing sequence that's usually painful in it's execution. If you ever watch the commentaries to the clip shows on The Simpsons DVDs, they explain that clip shows are often the result of networks wanting to have as many hours of a popular show as possible, but not wanting to pay for a full season. So a clip show is a cheap way to present a "new" episode. And they are lame, lame, lame.

And last night was no exception. The setup, in a nutshell, is that Dunder Mifflin is being sold, and so an auditor is coming to look at the branch's assets and speak to the HR guy (Toby). So you might expect hi-jinks as Michael and the gang try to put their best faces forward. And you get a little bit of that-- Michael rides a Segway! But then the bank guy sits down with Toby, and asks him if there's any safety issues that he should know about. And Toby says nothing, as the camera tightens on him, and several scenes of Michael and co. being decidedly unsafe rolls. Now, at first, I thought this was a clever little joke, a way of saying "oh yes there is!" before Toby says "oh no there's not!" But it kept going. And going. And then he asked Toby a question about sexual harassment, and the same thing happened. And I said to Hillary, "Is this a clip show?" And she said "I think it's a clip show."

And I promised, "Well, I'll be blogging about this tomorrow!", which she applauded. And I always keep my promises. When it comes to blogging. So here you go. That was the whole point. Go read those Fire Joe Morgan things, they're really funny. Not lame. Like The Office has become. Or clip shows. Or this blog. Hey, do you like the new name?


  1. The Fire Joe Morgan pieces are classic. If I was to teach a sports journalism class for the 21st century I was use those zinging post modern deconstructionist tirades as ample evidence that a sports articles can be journalism!

    Clip shows made me happy as a kid, I don't know why. Like didn't the Cosby's do that sitting around the living room? "And remember when Denise came home at 1 am with Lenny Kravitz?!?" And then they flash to the episode?

  2. Clip shows only ever made me want to watch the episodes they came from. Sometimes I just don't get you, man.