A View from America's Attic

One frozen Canadian's views.

Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
February 19
Maurice Tougas is a proud Canadian with an unhealthy fascination with the Excited States of America. He is an award-winning writer who, despite his self-professed brilliance as a writer, is currently seeking employment. Which is why he has time for blogs, and writing profiles in the third person.

OCTOBER 31, 2011 12:32PM

Time to shut down The Office (and kill Alan Gregory)

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It pains me to admit this, but it must be said.

The Office is done. Finished. Past its best-before date.  Expired. 

I take no pleasure in saying that The Office to be no longer worth watching. I consider The Office to be one of the 10 best comedies in TV history, right up with The Simpsons, Cheers, Mary Tyler Moore, Arrested Development, et al. But every great comedy (with the exception of The Simpsons, which may last forever) faces a moment of truth, when a decision must be made to continue or call it quits.

Steve Carell’s decision to leave the show last year was the perfect time to let the show retire only a little past its peak. But instead, the producers chose to throw the dice and go with another season. Bad decision. This year’s shows have all been sub-par, or worse. Last week’s Halloween episode was one of the worst in the show’s history: boring, unfunny, gimmicky, pretty much unwatchable.

Seven years is often the point where successful sitcoms have to make the call it quits or keep it going call. Results have been mixed.

Mary Tyler Moore ended after seven seasons, still firing on all cylinders. Bob Newhart went six seasons with his first show and was showing signs of slowing down; Newhart went eight seasons and, while having its share of clunkers in season 8, still had greatness in it, as did Cheers in its 11th (!) season. On the other hand, M*A*S*H was just embarrassing in its last years.

Everyone at The Office should have known that the loss of Carell was the kiss of death. Supporting players have left any number of popular shows over the years, and the shows have survived and in some cases thrived. But I can’t think of a single show that survived the departure of its star, and there is no doubt that Carell was the star of The Office. Michael Scott is one of the great TV creations, and unquestionably the centre of The Office. I have no problem with Ed Helm’s character, Andy Bernard, but he’s essentially weak. The addition of James Spader as Robert California (what kind of name is that?) did nothing to improve the show.

To be honest, The Office has been on a slow decline ever since Pam and Jim got married, robbing the show of its heart. But it was still must see TV — until this season. The Office should have gone out in one last blaze of glory last season, instead of soiling its reputation with one, last, greedy season.

Speaking of overstaying its welcome, The Simpsons Halloween episode this year was unquestionably the worst in the show’s history. Written by one of the show’s least accomplished writers, Carolyn Omine (usually one of the shows thousands of producers, or executive producers, or co-producers, etc.) it was almost entirely laugh-free, with the Avatar satire the worst of the bunch. The Simpsons is at least 10 years past its prime, but the Halloween episodes usually have something to watch. But not this year.

And speaking, again, of something not worth watching, Fox premiered another cartoon, Alan Gregory, on Sunday. Co-created by Jonah Hill (the most unpleasant, unfunny ‘comic’ in movies), it was flat out dreadful. Terrible characters, unfunny dialogue, its one saving grace was its animation, which was sharp and retro-cool. Alan Gregory another in the line of vulgar Family Guy spinoffs, and I can only hope it’s a temporary placeholder until the promising Bob’s Burgers comes back.


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