Steve Carrell

Yeah that was us a few months back, telling you not to worry about The Office, that their superior writers would make magic out of Steve Carrell’s departure, and that it was Carrell, whose movies largely suck, who we didn’t think was particularly funny except when Michael Scott.  Will Ferrell, a titan of comedy, as the temporary replacement, Deangelo Vickers, was not Michael, but he is a big name and a comedic genius probably of greater stature than Steve Carrell and he could’ve pulled it off.

We don’t know that any of the candidates we were subject to seeing interview last night were capable of pulling off running Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch with the possible exception of James Spader, who we don’t naturally love, but we have to admit that he did interview more dynamically than the others, and was probably the most quirky and unpredictable.  We are definitely not impressed with the process so far, nor are we impressed at all with the apple of show management’s eye, Catherine Tate (above), who we are reading everywhere is in the lead for the role as of right now.

While we waited with baited breath for Danny McBride to sweep into the conference room–something we thought we were assured of and was confirmed–a very weak bunch paraded in instead, and we thought them weak in every sense.  We weren’t thrilled with Will Arnett over a Danny McBride or Rhys Darby, but we still thought he’d do fine.  Well, last night’s Office couldn’t even manage to give Arnett any funny lines, or that extravagant flair he displays as Devin Banks on 30 Rock and of course, as GOB on Arrested Development.  And where in the hell was McBride?  Very upsetting.

Ray Romano?  We love him and written well, the role would be a piece of cake for him.  But like everyone else, he was flat and watching him was a struggle.  Warren Buffett?  Sure it’s a gag, but do they really have time to waste on non serious candidates in the season finale?  They advertise Jim Carrey all week as a candidate and then bring him in as an after thought at minute 58?

And why is Paul Lieberstein so skinny?  Do you guys know that is health status was one of the most frequently queried Google searches in the last 12 hours?  Farbeit from us to speculate on what could be an unfortunate situation for Lieberstein, but he looked like a skeleton, and he has missed a lot of time in the last few years, giving way to Amy Ryan’s Holly Flax.

As for Ricky Gervais, could this guy go away already?  We get it, we get it.  He’s the original David Brent, and as such, has clawed out a de facto EP position on The Office, but this guy should spend more time working on his own projects, which aren’t very funny.  How many shows will HBO hand the man, and when will one of them make us laugh?

It used to be that if HBO gave you a foreigner, it was appointment television.  Then there’s the Ricky Gervais exception.  Can there be any doubt that he isn’t pushing for Catherine Tate, of Dr. Who “fame”?  And what about The Office producers interview with our favorite band manager, Rhys Darby, who played Murray Hewitt hilariously on Flight of the Conchords?  We subsequently read that The Office wasn’t interested in Darby after meeting with him, and failed to grant him the courtesy of any sort of call back.

Bad form!  We’re very disappointed.  We’ll hold out hope that it isn’t Tate, and we’ll give her a chance to change our minds if it is her.  Who knows?  She very well may, but from where we sit, this is not the female John Cleese by any stretch.

If it’s not too late to offer suggestions for new blood, we may as well give it a try.  We thought Thomas Lennon of Reno 911 (Lt. Dangle) was an excellent, quirky boss of funny, oddball types, and we loved the short shorts.  After seeing Catherine Tate tell the cameras she thought she was Jo’s best friend, we also felt a desperate need to push a last ditch campaign for another excellent comedic actor, Bob Odenkirk, who is phenomenal, and always insanely good in a well done show and fine cast.

Crack (,

The Office’s Andy Bernard (actor Ed Helms).

The above title is not meant to be misleading.  Even though The Office is not a 40 or 60 minute episode tonight, we’d defy any true Office fan to differ with our classification of tonight’s show as special.  Especially given the fact that in tonight’s episode, one of our favorites, Andy Bernard is set to star in a community theatre production of Sweeney Todd, and he’s invited all of his co-workers to the show.  The episode is entitled “Andy’s Play.”

The musically inclined Helms, whose Andy character famously showered Pam (Jenna Fischer) once upon a time with a Ukulele rendition of “Rainbow Connection” (video below), should be inspired, if not inspiring in tonight’s show within a show.  We are expecting visceral reactions from Michael (Steve Carrell) and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) in the very least.

We can’t wait.  See pics of Andy as Anthony from Sweeney Todd at the link below.

Crack (,

What can the super talented writing staff of The Office, many of whom also appear on camera, do to come close to hitting the notes that “Goodbye Toby” did?  Well, Dwight can hopefully be counted on for some mirth, and office birthday parties are always funny, especially when alcohol is involved.  Andy can always offer a ballad.  Perhaps David Koechner can reprise the role of Packer, Michael’s buddy, who is always good for some laughs.

The other night we waxed pessimistically about The Office, declaring it had gone stale, and that there wasn’t much they could do to freshen itself up for the season finale.  We made a few suggestions, but mostly listed complaints, and left off by saying we hoped we were wrong.

We were.

The media leak that had caused a stir, and which we thought was started by Andy and Darryl, we learn was started by more than just those two.  Kelly also contributed to the leak, mentioning that Sabre printers caught on fire via tweeter, skyping, instant messaging, email, text, and video chat.  One of our many complaints of the show had been that Kelly had little real involvement with the plot of late, and that her comedic talents weren’t being utilized.  Take that, Crack. 

We also complained that of late, Jim and Pam haven’t been funny–another aspect of the show that changed in the finale.  Pam takes Jim into the stairwell to tell him that she wanted to to go in and tell Michael and Jo (Kathy Bates)–there to figure out who the leak is, despite Michael assuring her that none of his people are the leak.  “I know these people.  I know their birthdays and what kind of streamers they like and what their favorite cake is.” says Michael.  Jo replies, “Michael, that’s just birthday information.”   

“This is good,” Jim deadpanned, “this is a very good idea, that you get all the bad ideas out now.”  But next we see Pam in Michael’s office and she’s fessing up, to Michael’s dismay, who counters that his mind is working “a mile an hour”, to which Pam replies, “that fast?”

A surprise star of the finale was Nelson Franklin, who plays Sabre’s IT guy Nick, who goes on a goodbye speech diatribe, in which he chides people for not knowing his name, and then is called “sport” by Jim and “champ” by Dwight.  But Nick gets his revenge.  He tells the office that he has seen all of their hard drives, names Andy as the snitch and in a hilarious moment, calls out Darryl.

“Darryl, you’re on facebook.  Why you tell people you’re not on facebook?  People wanna be your friend, man!”  We hope that Nick isn’t really leaving, as he said, to teach inner city kids in Detroit, whose character in the end turned out to be a real gem. 

Darryl (Craig Robinson), Erin (Ellie Kemper) and Nick (above). 

But the real star, who delivered despite our pessimism, was Steve Carrell.  His character, Michael Scott, the oddest boss on television, had his best yet chemistry with Kathy Bates, playing Sabre CEO Jo Bennett.  The two finally had some quality time together, after Michael, who initially told Jo he wished prison and murder on the person responsible for the leak, and then returns to her to tell her that they should go easy on whomever caused the leak.  Jo knows Michael isn’t telling her something, and they then drive off somewhere together, alone.  We next see them on Jo’s plane.  Jo tells Michael to “tell momma what’s wrong.”

Michael bares his soul to Jo, and reveals it has been a bad year, that his Blockbuster Video stock is down, that his favorite restaurant closed down, that his new favorite restaurant “really sucks”, and that he misses Holly (Amy Ryan, The Wire).  Then Michael agrees to go to the press and apologize for Sabre’s faulty printers, saving Jo the embarrassment of being the face of their corporate disaster.

We had hoped for Packer (David Koechner), and we got him, if only by phone.  We shot for a ballad from Andy (Ed Helms), who sang for us to try and convince us he came from a long family line of non whistle blowers, so famous for it in fact that Woddy Guthrie wrote a song about them: “Oh Mr. Bernard, Mr. Bernard, who have you silenced today?”

We even complained about the absence of David Wallace (Andy Buckley) from the cast, who popped up in a brief cameo.

The Office might not have topped in what our opinion is its best finale ever, “Goodbye Toby” with its season 6 finale, “Whistleblower.”  But the episode did help renew our optimism for one of our favorite comedies, going into what may be its final season.

–Crack (

Despite another guest appearance by Oscar winner Kathy Bates, we are afraid that The Office has gone stale, at least when compared to its former self, and that tonight’s finale will lack enough of The Office’s trademark awkward moment comedy to leave its hardcore fans disappointed.  In examining recent storylines, we are called to wonder which ones can satisfy our thirst for vintage Office moments. 

 Jim and Pam (above), the parents of a newborn, are tired.  We get it.  Andy and Erin are in love.  It’s good for Andy, but how funny is it?  Or the stud contract between Angela and Dwight?  Frankly, Angela will be hard pressed to ever match the comedic gold that was season 5, episode 11’s “The Duel”, in which Andy finally learned that Angela, her fiancee, was sleeping with Dwight. 

                     I’ll respect the outcome of the duel. — Angela

In fact, since “The Duel”, it would be hard to argue that the product being turned out by Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. hasn’t slipped a notch, when stacked up against earlier episodes of the hit show.

When Michael Scott was dating Pam’s mother, we thought that storyline was extremely funny but since, The Office has fallen short of its normal mark.  Ryan now wears bowties and coke bottle glasses and Kelly is being sent for management training by the new parent company, Sabre, headed by the sassy Floridian mogul Joe Bennett (Kathy Bates).  I dare say none of it is too funny.  The Office in recent years has shown a willingness to bring aboard quality guests, especially Idris Elba (Stringer Bell, The Wire) and Amy Ryan, who also lists The Wire, as one of her many credits, but Bates in this role hasn’t done the trick for us.  We enjoyed her much more in her guest role on Six Feet Under, because her character was pivotal in Ruth (Frances McDormand) realizing her own self determination, which led to her allowing Claire (Lauren Ambrose) to go off and live her life, driving to New York with Nate’s (Peter Krause) ghost urging her on to Be My Friend by Sia (though I prefer Michelangelo’s remix), in what was perhaps the best series finale of all time.  Listen to the song at the link below.

While The Office hasn’t been afraid to introduce big names to its cast, we are missing some of the characters who are no longer working with Dunder Mifflin.  We miss Jan (Melora Hardin) and David Wallace (Andy Buckley).  We also notice that episodes go by with talented cast members such as Mindy Kaling (Kelly) and Paul Lieberstein (Toby) having little to no real involvement with the plot.  Our favorite season finale ever, coincidentally, was one in which Toby figured greatly: “Goodbye Toby”–a 2 parter that featured total mayhem, a carnival atmosphere, and even a musical number by Michael, which you can sample at the link below.

What can the super talented writing staff of The Office, many of whom also appear on camera, do to come close to hitting the notes that “Goodbye Toby” did?  Well, Dwight can hopefully be counted on for some mirth, and office birthday parties are always funny, especially when alcohol is involved.  Andy can always offer a ballad.  Perhaps David Koechner can reprise the role of Packer, Michael’s buddy, who is always good for some laughs.

But as a betting man, which I am, I’d say there’s little that they can do for us tonight that will make the true Office fan feel like it’s 2007 or 2008.  I hope I’m way off base.

–Crack (

Apparently Michael Scott (Steve Carell, above) will be leaving Scranton after next season of The Office.  The departure of the comedic genius will sour die hard fans, and could impact the future of the show.  Here’s what Carell told the CNN:

The actor revealed his contract has until the end of the seventh season to run and when questioned whether he planned on continuing he said in an interview with the BBC that this may be it.  “I don’t think so.  I think that will probably be my last year.”

Of course, this could be a simple case of Carell negotiating through the media, though the actor has been an A List movie attraction for several years and could be looking to exit NBC’s most popular comedy.  Click the link below to read more about what Carell told the BBC Radio.

–Crack (