First of all, The Office was a bit of a disappointment. Two episodes ago, Dwight lit the office on fire and the employees of Dunder Mifflin roasted Michael. Michael took a "personnel" day then returned with jabs for his co-workers. "Pam, you failed out of Art School. Boom, roasted." My personal favorite "Creed, your teeth called, your breath stinks" (which is an allusion to the Problem Resolution episode) and the one that got everyone laughing, "Stanley, you crush your wife during sex and your heart sucks."
After the first three seasons, Karen was out of the picture and Jim and Pam were together. Most shows would have jumped the shark (some might argue that The Office did.) To remedy the problem, the writers chose to move the show in a different direction. On the first episode of season four, Michael hit Meredith with his car, thus hurling the series into the surreal.
The problem with The Office is that, during the first three seasons, the show was realistic. It wasn't as painfully real as the British version, but it's aesthetic was, for the most part, realistic. But sometimes the characters and actors seem like they were cast from two different realities. Jenna Fischer sits at one end of the spectrum, playing Pam as faithfully and as genuinely as though she were on a real life documentary. Rainn Wilson, on the other hand, plays Dwight like a version of Steve Erwin meets Darth Vader on crack.
Now The Office is struggling to stay fresh by moving from the real to the surreal and I think it's been relatively successful. They learned from Friends and have stayed away from character based melodrama. This has left the show straddling an aesthetic rift. Is
The hour long episode was great. It embraced the surreal aesthetic. They showcased minor characters. I thought they had finally worked all the kinks out. Then Michael hit the lecture circuit. Why would anyone want Michael to talk to their office about anything? It never quite explained that. And they were back to awkward silences and Michael making an ass of himself. Personally, I didn't think the American version should have even bothered putting Michael on the lecture circuit because it would invariably draw comparisons to the British version, which was better. Remember David Brent posing?
Overall though, The Office has kept me interested. It's still funny. I also find it interesting to see how the writers adapt to the growing pains of a show that has been on for five years. They've avoiding falling into a lot of traps and seem intent on experimenting with the genre.
For it's first two seasons I thought 30 Rock was a marvel. The humor was base, but clever and the social commentary was present, but never preachy.
The third season has been good.
Unfortunately, it looks as though NBC is pushing hard for ratings, backing the writers into a corner-- a dirty, crack head corner of guest stars and cameos.
Hey NBC, um, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are.... HUGE STARS. They are more famous than John Hamm and Salma Hayek. The reasons 30 Rock hasn't been getting great ratings is probably a combination of the following: 1. The show is ironic; people don't get irony. 2. The show is surreal; people don't get surrealism. 3. Your piss poor promotion during the first two seasons.
30 Rock was, and is still, a gem. There are two kinds of shows out there. Cash cows and critic's darlings. Stop trying to make 30 Rock into a cash cow. Let the writers do what they do best. The last two episodes were funny, but 30 Rock has a solid and hilarious ensemble of minor characters that get the shaft when Jennifer Aniston and the entire cast of Night Court have to appear in the same episode.
Let 30 Rock be that critic's darling. They'll win you Emmys and give the brand "NBC" a little bit of dignity. God forbid you tarnish your network with high quality programing.
Maybe I'm stupid, but I think that it's worth the trade-off. Maybe you're not making as much money with 30 Rock as you would with say.... strippers competing against one another in a bull testicle eating competition.... but 30 Rock is refined comedy. It's good. Leave it be.
And finally-- Top Chef.
Fabio was a true professional. He broke his finger and brought medics to patch it up. They asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital and he responded like it was the most ridiculous, retarded suggestion anyone could've made.
And it made winning all the more sweet.
I don't have a good prediction over who is going to win this season. Last season Stephanie was a lock. She smoked her competitors over and over again and Tom obviously loved her. Padma can say whatever she wants, but the only reason she's there is because she's more literate than Katie Joel. Tom chooses the winner. He stares his panel down with his chill blue eyes until they crumble in fear. The guy is intimidating.
Carla, Fabio and Stefan all seem to be equally skilled. Carla called herself the dark horse in the last episode, but I think her competitors underestimate her because she's a woman and because she's super, ridiculously calm. But she knows what she's doing. She pays attention to detail and that is usually what makes or breaks you at the end.
I think Hosea is the dark horse, but he might surprise everyone.
One thing I love and respect about Top Chef is that, no fucktards make it to the end, so it's always a good finale.
But before I wrap up this entry I have to gripe.
You lame ass judges kicked Jamie off for a technical error when Leah conceptually missed the mark? That is not how you've judged in the past. She understood how to make the dish, and I can't help but sympathize with someone who only had 15 minutes to recreate a Ripert dish. It could have happened to any chef and I don't think it was represenative of her skills. Leah's pallet failed her and she didn't execute the dish correctly. You should've given Jamie a break.
Ok... I'm done with this week in tv. I'll try to keep this up a little better.