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What’s wrong with Scranton?

October 19, 2007

A new Slate article lays out a decent case for why The Office has been sort of disappointing so far, and what they can do to fix it. A summary for those of you too lazy to read it:

  1. The episodes are too long. Storylines and jokes that would have normally been cut are kept in to stretch out the space.
  2. Pam and Jim are together. “Jim and Pam’s thwarted love gave The Office a narrative arc that transcended the episode-to-episode hijinks of the other Dunderheads.” Without it, the show feels disconnected.
  3. Ryan isn’t (and never was) a funny character, and his website storyline “seems so dated that it could’ve been a plotline on Murphy Brown.
  4. The changing nature of Jan’s character: “It was delightful to watch as her irritation became tinged first with grudging respect, then sexual attraction.”

I agree with most everything they said. One thing I have liked so far this season is the larger role given to previously secondary characters. Kevin, Creed, Angela, Meredith and the rest are often times much funnier than the main characters, and I’m glad they are being used more. However, when the episodes go back to 22 minutes, I worry they will be relegated back to one-liners only.

I have complete confidence that the show will pick up again. Even in its current shape, it is still funnier than just about any other comedy on network TV (except maybe 30 Rock).

5 Comments leave one →
  1. andy permalink*
    October 19, 2007 2:56 pm

    They aren’t 44 minute episodes. They’re 2 22 minute episodes shown back to back. I don’t know why people don’t realize this. They aren’t going to show up on the Season 4 dvd as 44 minute segments.

    In general the show is just losing steam. It happens. But the grammar argument in the conference room was absolutely awesome.

  2. Adam permalink*
    October 19, 2007 3:02 pm

    44 minute episodes, back to back 22 minute episodes…same difference. It shows up on the Comcast guide as 1 episode so that’s what I went with.

    You are right about that scene. “Ryan used me as an object” may have been the funniest line of the night. They need more scenes like that, and less stuff about the characters’ outside lives.

  3. marino permalink
    October 19, 2007 4:52 pm

    i agree that these first few “extended” epsisodes havent been as good as last season, i think the office is doing just fine.

    season 3 culminated in Pam and Jim finally getting together, after 3 full seasons of inredible tension and buildup. i have been worried that them being together would ruin the show, but the writers have done a good job with it so far. i sort of like the idea of them being the “anchors” of the office, enjoying all the crazy around them.

    andy and angela is a great plot line.

    the show definitely needs more Creed, however.++

    also, question for you adam-if tigers turn back into chinese dudes at midnight, what animals turn back into indian dudes?

  4. annieinmn permalink
    October 19, 2007 8:42 pm

    i love jim and pam together. i hope they can keep them together for a while. i think the fact that the dwight/angela relationship drama is taking place of the previous jim/pam drama helps alot. i cant wait to see where they take their story next…

    and i agree. i am ready to go back to short episodes…the hour longs seem too long.

  5. Ashley permalink
    October 22, 2007 5:41 pm

    It was the awkward humor that made The Office so great. This season has me really worried. I still watch it over Grey’s Anatomy (which runs at the same time and I tape with my VHS player… DVR ain’t got nothing on me) but I’m starting to question my priorities.

    First off, I hate the new Pam. As a romantic I’m glad Pam and Jim got together, but not at the expense of the show. Pam is being more assertive and I feel that’s killing some of the awkwardness. There was a underestimated subtlety about her that is no longer there now that she’s happy. Boo.

    Ryan WAS funny. This position does not suit him. Again, he’s become too assertive.

    Maybe I just need some time to adjust to these changes. Every show has to transform itself over time.

    The first three seasons were great cause we all related to them. Your boss says stupid shit, and we all look at eachother oddly and make comments under our breath. Hilarious stuff. Now I feel there is a role reversal and I don’t like it.

    The next few weeks will either make or break the show. My advice to the writers: more Dwight and Creed; less Pam and Ryan!

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