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Office’ downfall

Peter Steiner | Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

It is perhaps the most recognizable quote from the show that reigned supreme on Thursday nights for nearly the last decade. But now after years of laughter, “The Office” is dying a painful death.

Most fans predicted the show’s downfall when Steve Carrell announced he would be leaving “The Office” roughly two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, producers failed to contradict this prediction with last season’s abysmal effort to replace Michael Scott.

But if the demise of “The Office” has been a series of unfortunate events that began with the departure of Michael Scott, then last year showed “The Office” was in penultimate peril. Someone hit the panic button, because this year the show has hit rock bottom.

Sure, the season premiere and second episode provided a glimmer of hope that the show might just go out in style. But after three lifeless episodes in a row, these small successes have only served to remind us how terrible the current show is in comparison to seasons before.

The problems with “The Office” this season are plentiful. First is the confusing character of Nellie Bertram. Who is she and what purpose does she serve in “The Office?” Worst of all, Nellie has essentially replaced Jim as the character interacting with one of the funniest figures – Dwight Schrute.

Which brings us to the next problem:  the changing personality of Dwight Schrute. “The Office” has tried to humanize Dwight. But conveying this beet farmer’s soft side doesn’t fit with the core of “The Office.”  Did Dwight not once ask: “How would I describe myself? Three words: hard working, alpha male, jackhammer, merciless, insatiable.”

This ability to quote “The Office” has been a large contributor to the show’s success. In the first five episodes of the season, the memorable jokes that Michael Scott used to deliver on a consistent basis have been missing.

The biggest problem with today’s office? The boss. Of course no one was going to replace Michael Scott, but who would have expected his predecessor to be so awful? Even though Ed Helms is a great actor, Andy Bernard has been a cruel and unbearable regional manager. While Michael insulted everyone in the office, they still loved him. It isn’t just that Andy has not been funny, but his new persona has ruined the entertaining chemistry of “The Office.”

A wise man once said, “Do I want to be feared or loved? Easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid of how little I love “The Office.”


Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.