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The Office – “Stress Relief”

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“Stress Relief”

February 1st, 2009

I am not conditioned to enjoy this hour of The Office.

First off, I don’t think the show should be in this position in the first place: Chuck has a special 3D episode ready to go tomorrow night, and is much more vulnerable to audience erosion than what is quickly becoming NBC’s flagship series.

Second, I don’t like hour long episode of The Office: they are often overblown, and rarely is there enough comedy to justify the longer running time. Combine with the always frustrating reality that they will eventually be split into two parts in syndication, so they’re forced to split into two separate stories at some level, and they are rarely worthwhile (“Goodbye, Toby” and “Weight Loss” could be seen as a reversal of the trend, but the Amy Ryan variable is the more likely explanation for their quality).

And third, as if that all wasn’t enough, we have the blatant stuntcasting of Jack Black and Jessica Alba, a principle that has been a bit of an achilles heel for NBC’s other Thursday comedy, 30 Rock, all season. The Office has always been pretty immune, being as it is about the mundane life of office employees, but now even that is bleeding its way into the series.

So going into “Stress Relief,” my expectations were fairly low, and I was fully prepared to harp on all three of the above points for 1500 words.

And, well…old habits die hard, I guess – this was a mess of an episode that tried too hard to be worthy of the Super Bowl, was too scattershot to be a cohesive hour, and represented the most superfluous and tangential use of guest stars that I could possibly imagine. So in the end, my opinion remains the same: it shouldn’t have been an hour long, it shouldn’t have cast celebrities, and it shouldn’t have even been airing after the Super Bowl in the first place.

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Weeds – “I Am The Table”

“I Am The Table”

August 4th, 2008

One of my most common issues with Weeds is not necessarily the content we receive, but rather the abrupt and often miniscule portions in which we receive it. Right now, the show is juggling five storylines: you’ve got Silas and his Cheese MILF, Shane adjusting to a new environment, Andy and Doug working on their Coyote business, Celia trying to keep herself conscious, and Nancy cavorting with Esteban south of the border.

So, “I Am The Table” can’t possibly satisfy all of these stories, and as a result one can’t expect it to. I’ve often wondered how this show would play as an hour-long, and I really think that it would do many parts of it a lot of favours.  At the same time, however, the short format did lead to some great comedy here: the Shane and Celia stories, in particular, are well served with just some small moments of really great comedy, and with Elizabeth Perkins and Alexander Gould up to the task it’s hard to argue that there isn’t entertainment.

I just sometimes wish that the glacial pace of everything else had either Nancy and Esteban’s passion or the aforementioned humour.

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