Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rosie O'Donnell's Variety Not What We Expected

The word came out a few months ago that Rosie O'Donnell got the green light from NBC to bring back an old time Burnett style variety show. My mind filled with nostalgia. Carol Burnett was and is my idol in the genre, and the notion of funny written sketches with guest stars, mixed with goofy staged musical numbers al-la Sonny and Cher, or Donny and Marie had me riled up for a visit to the past in the modern day. But what we witnessed on Wednesday night's premiere was vaudeville - more of a nod to Ed Sullivan than Burnett, the Osmonds or the Bonos. Was America ready for such a show, promoted with the promise of skits and Bob Mackie type style, only to be given a watered down menopausal version of what Sullivan did fifty years ago? Not really. This wasn't the bag of goods I was promised.

Rosie was The Master of Ceremonies for a line up of friends and foes alike. Foes didn't appear in person, but Donald Trump's and Nancy Grace's names were invoked with the inevitable farcical dig. The allies who did show were Alec Baldwin, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan alongside surprise guests Conan O'Brien - who took a pie to the face and nothing else, Alanis Morrissette warbled and enunciated a song with her lazy "s" hushes, and Rachael Ray clomped on stage holding a giant plastic turkey. Although unintentional, the symbolism did not go unnoticed.

Children tap dancing, product giveaways sung through a striptease routine by Jane Krakowski, all in one were just a mess. Sullivan was a master at this, but his program was more a showcase than variety. Where were the sets, the wardrobe, the sketches with story lines? Seeing her friends yukking it up, or talking into her cleavage in between stints by a hula hoop spinning troupe, or the dual foot tapping Lumbar Brothers is not what I expected from this kind of show. The self indulgence was palpable. This was everything Rosie loves: the cloying cute Broadway kids, the giveaways, the big dance numbers. Seeing Liza Minnelli was fun, but she was actually out sung by Rosie's large vocals, drowning out the legend as she sat on big momma's knee.

Everything was a tribute to Rosie's world of mediocre, commercially manufactured, easily digestible entertainment with no complexity or edginess. This is the art that moves her. nailed it in an article posted several years back: "She celebrates crap. She has an incredibly narrow view of the universe: popular television, Broadway schlock, mainstream movies, sappy pop balladeers." Never was this so evident as in Wednesday night's pre-Thanksgiving fiasco.

I've enjoyed O'Donnell in the past. Although I've never been a fan of the entertainment she promotes, I've admired her humor and honesty. But if I have to see more dancing layed cakes and a theater full of people getting bags of expensive crap again from Rosie, I'll be turning the channel. It's my sense that she needs to understand what the audience outside the studio or venue wants - not just what floats her boat and is applauded by those in her presence.

Between the vaudeville and the cute kids, the give aways and dancing food, "Rosie Live" was a lesson in how not to bring back the old genre to prime time, daytime, late night - or any time. The show that premiered on Wednesday night was to turn into a weekly variety hour. However, it garnered low ratings and some bad reviews. In fact, the premiere was the finale. "Rosie Live" will not continue. Mercifully.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Thursday: Repeat but Promising "Office" Promo

Thanksgiving means turkey, food, football and no new "Office".  (A repeat of "Weight Loss" doesn't count).  But NBC ran a few promos for next week's episode, "The Surplus". In my world, seeking out hope in promos has become a sport.

The episode summary goes as thus:  The Scranton-ites discover they have a surplus of money in the budget, and everyone has ideas on how to spend it.  Meanwhile, judging from this promo, Pam seems to be trying to soften Jim into seeing things her way... It also looks like The Nard Dog is starting to see action from uptight Angela and Michael goes on about something...

Another promo is floating around. Michael seems to love Pam's chair. (Speaking of Pam - can she look any different? I miss the old Pam).

"The Office: The Surplus" Thursday on NBC at 9pm EST/8pm CST.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

30 Rock Rocks My World

I know. I don't have to keep saying it, but I will: "30 Rock" is the funniest television show on the planet.

This is my mea culpa regarding my own bellyaching on the stunt casting that has been going at Silvercup Studios, thus beaming on our screens. Oprah is a good sport in playing herself playing a thirteen year old that Liz mistakes for Oprah while high on Dr. Spaceman's prescription airplane pills. (Phew!) Jennifer Anniston's appearance, although way too Rachel from my taste, grows on me with each viewing because watching Jack rendered helpless under the sexual powers of Ms. Crazy is hard to resist. Steve Martin's stint as the white collar criminal Gavin Valure was fun, zany, and lovable, making him a perfect fit on this show. (I'd love to see him return in another role). After a slightly stress filled, somewhat disappointing episode of "The Office", seeing Valor tempt Liz Lemon with the pearls of desire any girl would want - eating, staying in and watching TV, internet and sleeping with no major sexual tension involved - was a safe haven, a hilarious relief. Hells bells, Mr. Martin, I'll sign up for the mansion in Connecticut with the Xbox and internet service any day.

Ok, "30 Rock" and NBC. If you're going to do stunt casting right, then you have my blessing. Like that matters, but I'll pretend that it does.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flight of the Conchords: Ode to a Sexy Flower

Brett is horny...

Conchords Promo:

"Flight of the Conchords" Season Two premieres on HBO on January 18th.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SAG to Vote on Strike, Arrested Development Movie and The Office to Stream Producer's Cut Episode on

SAG and the AMPTP could not reach an agreement on Friday. SAG members have been working without a contract since June. Looks like the Guild will be voting on whether or not to strike. Not cool. (Variety)

Arrested Development Movie In the Works

Ron Howard and Mitch Hurwitz are near a deal with bring the beloved canceled television comedy to the big screen. (Hollywood Reporter) To Stream Producer's Cut of "The Office: Frame Toby"

Beginning Tuesday, November 25th, will stream last week's episode of "The Office" with never before seen scenes. This is a real treat! (NBC Universal Media Village).

Friday, November 21, 2008

"The Office: "Frame Toby or "Mr. Halpert Buys His Dream House"

Last night's episode of "The Office", entitled "Frame Toby" gave fans a mixture of "meh" and "wow". Sadly, the show has lost something since season three. The last two episodes, "Customer Survey" and "Business Trip" measured closely to "The Office" of the past, but as a whole thus far this season, the show isn't matching the success of it's first three seasons.

I was satisfied, not enthralled, but satisfied with last night's mixture of Toby's return, Pam's new confidence, Michael and Dwight's silliness in getting Toby arrested, and Jim's lovely, if not risky gesture of buying a new house for Pam as a surprise. It was written by Mindy Kaling and directed by Jason Reitman.

It's the office Brownie Social as the DM'er get their sugar fix on by wolfing down some home baked goodies.
I'm going to pretend that Phyllis baked them since it seems like a very Phyllis thing to do. No doubt they were created with Lady Vance of Vance Refrigeration's mixture of warmth and superiority. After all, her hubby buys her exotic pine smelly perfumes from metropolitan Orlando. Kelly bags two brownies, one for her and one for...Toby? "Yeah", says Michael. You can give that to Toby in Costa Rica" (still doing a jiggy down dance in his head).

Unbeknownst to Michael, Toby has been working in the back office for a week now. Jim spilled the beans.
"Good one, Jim. You and your pranks."
Is there anything more hideous to Michael Scott than seeing the likes of Toby ever again? Probably not. Especially since the lady HR Rep he fell in love with has been transferred only to be replaced by the person she replaced whom Michael hated with a passion that only the Devil can explain.

When one puts Dwight and Michael together for some dastardly doing against Toby, it's like watching children play pretend in your backyard. They devise a plan to oust Toby from his perch by buying some drugs from Lee and Gene....I mean two loading dock guys, who sell him a stash of caprese salad for five hundred dollars. What does Michael know? He once thought he got high because he smoked a cigarette with a girl at an Alicia Keyes concert who wore a lip ring.

Real life writers/hotties Gene Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky reprising their role as the snarky dock guys.

Meanwhile, back in the world where people know reality from fantasy, Pam is disgusted by the filthy microwave. I feel ya, Pam. Office microwaves are a sesspool of exploded Lean Cuisines and fishy smelling left overs the guy down the hall in Graphics heated up two hours ago. She writes an anonymous note letting everyone have it because not cleaning up after oneself is the principle of this whole rant. Everyone thinks the note's obnoxious. Pam stands her ground because three months of New York has made her as bitchy and annoyed as the rest of us New Yorkers.

Jim has other plans purchasing his parents home for him and Pam to fill with children and stuff.

Home owning Jim is the sweetest Jim next to Jim kissing Pam Jim and Jim crying Jim.

Will Pam like the house? Will she be angry that Jim bought it without her knowing? Will she accept the fake deer in the front yard?

"Surprise, this is your new home", says Jim barely able to gulp down his nerves.
"Here's the's the kitchen. The red shag rug can be removed. I paid no brokers fee, and the ugly clown picture has been super glued to the wall."

But I thought the garage would make a great art studio for you.

Pam walks around in an emotionless daze, taking it all in. Will she be pissed?

"I know I did this without telling you...I know this house isn't great.." Jim's self confidence melts in a pile of Halpert-ness.

"Oh Halpert...I love it and you!"

Although this positive outcome was very sweet, it was confusing. I'm glad Pamcake loved the house, but she psyched us out with her placid facial expression as she went from room to room. Jim looked worried enough over her reactions to his decision, and to see him crushed would have been heartbreaking, but something has to give with these two. We don't need angst such as Pam is too fancy for Scranton - we need some vinegar, something that arises from their day to day life that irks their relationship a bit. Please writers. You have to let the happy-go-lucky dove of love slam into the window of anger sometime.

To round things up on this lazy Friday, where I cannot conjure words - only images to recap and review the episode, Toby stays. Michael deals with it. Pam has a new attitude, prominently displayed in the first deleted scene (see below), and the Halperts have a new home fixer up project.

Oh - and Ryan, who has decided to dump Kelly again so he can go to Thailand with some high school students - but not before they have sex one more time and she gives him some money - is still a douche.

Ryan's sudden trip to Thailand is a deus ex machina that seriously failed. His personality change gradually happened over the past year and resulted in a person we don't recognize. Thailand? Is he bailing the country when he's probably on some kind of probation? Creepy and obvious to the behind the scenes situation since Novack is leaving to do a film. Writing out his character in a sloppy manner is bad form, writers.

If this keeps up, I'm going to have to devote more of my blogging time to writing about "30 Rock". Perhaps The Office has run its course?

On Tuesday, November 25th, will stream a Producers Cut of "The Office: Frame Toby" with scenes unused in the original broadcast last night.

"The Office" returns with a new episode entitled "The Surplus" on December 4th at 9:00pm EST/8:00pm CST on NBC.

First Deleted Scene:

Looks like Pam's new found confidence has rubbed Dunder Mifflin-ites the wrong way. I love the spark, but have to say, even as a New Yorker myself, she might want to tone down on the "I've seen and done more things in NY in one week than in Scranton in three months" stuff a bit. Love you Pam, but the folks aren't into that New York superior stuff. And she did kind of burn Jim there. Maybe one day he will gain the confidence to speak up.

Two Minute Replay:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Flight of the Conchords Time!!

Season Two of "Flight of the Conchords" will return to HBO in January, and not a moment too soon. You know the premiere is around the corner when a new promo has arisen from the HBO ashes left behind by the less-than-fabulous "Little Britain USA".

Cancelation Alert: Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money to be No More?

ABC-TV's "Pushing Daisies" has been struggling to survive in the ratings jungle. Earlier this month, the network was giving it two weeks to improve viewership or else it was the morgue for the Lee Pace driven dramedy. The good news is that "Daisies" beat out the miserable "Knight Rider" on NBC. The bad new is that's not saying much since it received the lowest ratings ever. Unsubstantiated rumors are running amok that the hammer has already come down from the ABC Network. Earlier this season I wrote in support of this show. It's a delightful, frothy, sweet (albeit sometimes too sweet) program that should be saved. The fact that "Knight Rider" and "Kath and Kim" are still roaming the earth while "Pushing Daises" is getting chopped is mind boggling. Maybe another network will "touch" it back to life?

Another one to bite the dust?

"Dirty Sexy Money" is also rumored to have been canceled, and not a moment too soon. I cautiously championed this prime time soap-like drama earlier in the season, simply because the cast was substantial in quality despite the tiresome premise concerning the wealthy Darling family and their obnoxious brood. How can you go wrong with Jill Clayburgh, Donald Sutherland, Billy Baldwin and Peter Krause? The answer is - you can, with sub-par writing, boring storylines worthy of "Day of Our Lives" (which is also up for the chop in day time), and sleazy unneccesary tub and shower scenes that make the mind wander toward the DVR line up to see if your machine recorded something better. Unlike the charming "Pushing Daisies" which should be rescued from the
jaws of cancelation, "Dirty Sexy Money" should mercifully be put to rest.

Update: "Pushing Daisies", "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Eli Stone" were officially canceled. R.I.P.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weekend Watch: Colbert Gets Christmassy

I'm already counting the hours for the weekend on this very hump day Wednesday. Stephen Colbert's "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All" will air on Sunday night on Comedy Central at 10pm ET, and oh how we need a little Christmas now. Here are some highlights:

Dedecked in the colors of the Israeli flag, Stephen welcomes his favorite Jewish friend for a song about Hannukah and why it sucks compared to Christmas.

Willie Nelson, as one of the three wise men, stops by with marajuana for all.

Elvis Costello will sing a Yuletide ditty, replacing our own self loathing and morally bankrupt souls with temporary warmth and cheer.

So pour yourself a nice cup-o-nog and snuggle up by the flatscreen. Forget the economy, your joblessness and the Repo Man at your door. Christmas has come early and Little Bear is ready to take it on...variety style.

(Photos courtesy of who probably got this from Viacom)

The Office: Deleted Scene of the Week and Toby is Back

Why, why, why do the NBC wizards make The Office cut out scenes? For all the Jim and Pam anxiety and love making, this scene would have been great as the tag - or maybe even the cold open for next week. I despair, I really do.

One nitpick. Since Pam is dressed in another outfit, it appears this conversation was held a day or so after the reunion in the parking lot. Why is Jim asking her now about how she failed? Oh, I get it. The "professor" and "the student" were too busy "sleeping" together to clear up that detail.

Perhaps Jim and Pam will join forces for a graphic novel based on Dwight Schrute? Pam's illustrations and Jim's ideas combine to turn Dwight into a super hero. Why not? After all, it takes some Halpert imagination to come up with those pranks and Pam has that R.Crumb quality to her sketchings. I pray to Thor this happens.

Just Waiting out Wednesday to get to "Office" Thursday

Toby Flenderson. The sorry sack HR representative. Michael Scott's nemesis. The true "Thief of Joy", the master of hating "everything that he choses to be". He's back. For years we felt sorry for the put upon policy man. The verbal indignities hurled by Michael on a daily basis made us wonder what he could have done to cause such Michael hate. Even that innocent crush on Pam was sort of sweet. Then last season, the writers seemed to lift off the hatch and show us the Toby we never knew: the man who crushes on women he can't have, the creepy friend who lost his self control, placing his hand on Pam's knee in view of Jim and DM staff before fleeing into the night like a cockroach. Toby, the man who helped place Jim on probation in a evil passive aggressive act of revenge for being the true apple of Pam's eye. Oh, get over it Toby. You wussed out when Pam was single.

But I have to admit, I'm glad to see him back. As Pam said, he did have a "calming affect on the office", and pissing Michael off was like a watching a tennis match between a stubborn child and a turtle - amusing, slightly sadistic, but funny in spite of it all.

So, Toby's back from Costa Rica, darkening the doors of Dunder Mifflin once more. Michael is freaking out. A mysterious fire in the microwave is driving people nuts. I'm calling it. Fire guy did it. Could this be the storyline that writes Ryan out of the show so B.J. Novack can get some "me" time?

"The Office: Frame Toby" - Thursday night on NBC at 9:00pm/8:00pm CT

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The More You Know" - Green is "Universal"

John Krasinski of "The Office"

NBC Universal has been going Green for a while now, kick starting their initiative in 1997. It began with Universal Studios in Los Angeles installing solar panels to power up their sound stages. Then the television network itself launched a Green themed prime time week during the ’07-08 season promoting environmental preservation through episodic sitcom and drama story lines. This year, NBC Universal continues the trend by making three television shows Green behind the scenes. “SNL”, “NBC News with Brian Williams”, and “Lipstick Jungle” (which has not yet been canceled) have all reduced their carbon footprint by reducing paper waste, cutting down on paper scripts and using LED lights. They are also considering the use of soy fed trucks to power on set production.

Debra Messing of USA Network's "The Starter Wife"

Ann Curry of "The Today Show"

With Green rightly being the prominent feather on the Peacock spectrum, the network has taken the message straight to the viewers by taping a series of exclusive "The More You Know" PSA spots with a lineup of NBC stars. From Telemundo, USA and Bravo, all NBC Universal program talent came out in force. Look out for the spots on air.

To find your favorite NBC talent promoting the Green cause, and to see behind the scenes footage, go to

Rashida Jones Cast in New NBC Poehler Project

Good news for Rashida fans such as myself! As announced earlier on, the New York Post has confirmed that Rashida Jones will be joining the Greg Daniels produced, untitled Amy Poehler sitcom. She joins Aziz Ansari who was cast earlier. The premise is still under wraps, but it will be a single camera comedy, and the former Ms. Fillipelli will be playing a nurse named Ann.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Perils of Stunt Casting

How I love "30 Rock". The sharp wit that rests on goofiness, the fast pacing, the light hearted absurdity. Tina Fey has created a tour de force in sitcom madness with a wonderful mix of outcast loons and comedians fitting into great storylines with infectious one liners. As Liz once asked Jack Donaghy, "Why are you wearing a tux?" to which he replied, "It's after six. What am I, a farmer?". You almost can't top that line alone, but they have since - time and time again.

The show has provided some of the greatest celebrity casting ever: Elaine Stritch as Jack's mother, Carrie Fisher as the boozy ex-hippy television writer Rosemary, Tim Conway as Bucky Bright, the odd folksy old time TV actor. They were all established well known actors beloved for their classic roles in film, Broadway and prime time. Even Oprah Winfrey's appearance, as a figment of Liz's pill induced high, was fun to behold. However, leaning on the oh-so-familiar talents of Jennifer Anniston, as they did in last week's episode, allowed for a sugary sweet revisit to the days of "Friends", killing the usual snark of Fey's creation. It was a bummer. I didn't love "Friends". "30 Rock" is the anti-"Friends". Anniston seems like a decent lady, but her acting is a one note performance, with the same overtones and cutesy inflections that make each of her characters the same - one after the other.

Next on tap we have Steve Martin, whom I love, but am concerned that his appearance comes too soon after Anniston. Martin will not be playing himself, but another character. Why can't the famous show up as themselves? With a premise such as "30 Rock", stunt casting is a built in element. The mock SNL program "TGS" could easily welcome a Steve Martin or a Jennifer Anniston who could be guesting on the show or just visiting 30 Rock to see Jack or to appear the Today Show. They did it with Conan in season one.

What makes Anniston and Martin different than Conway, Fisher, Stritch – or even future Liz Lemon love interest - Jon Hamm is the over exposure factor. Tim Conway is a comedian’s comedian, a legendary sketch comedy performer who is low key and not in a big film every year. Elaine Stritch is perfection, the grand duchess of stage and screen who doesn’t get swept in the big lights of PR. Carrie Fisher is a shape shifter in the public eye, an actress turned novelist, turned screenwriter who has used humor and honesty to discuss her personal woes and joys. Hamm is still not a household name, yet has the acting ability to blend in well. As much as I admire Steve Martin and do personally like Anniston, their stock is so high on the market of fame that they feel less approachable than Fisher, Stritch, Conway and Hamm - whose stock is rising, but still lingers in cult fame.

So go on and throw tomatoes at my face, but I bitch because I love: Please "30 Rock" stop the stunt casting madness, even as Sweeps takes hold and visions of ratings dance before your eyes. Or at least spread it out to one big star per ratings period. You're too good for this.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend Watch: Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd Hosting SNL and "Filth"

Saturday, November 15th

Ricky Gervais: "Out of England"

Ricky Gervais has long since taken the U.S. by storm since "The Office" became a cult hit, culminating in the successful American adaptation. With his HBO hit "Extras" further solidifying and raising his stock, the cable network has given Gervais his own stand up special "Out of England". Taped at Madison Square Garden, Ricky gives us Yanks a taste of British perspective. It promises to be hilarious. Gird your loins, America.

Saturday Night Live: Guest Host Paul Rudd with Musical Guest Beyonce

Paul Rudd will be hosting Saturday Night Live tonight, and it's about fricking time! He's appeared in classic comedies such as "Anchorman", "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Wet Hot American Summer". His current film "Role Model", co-written with David Wain, is already starting to sizzle in the box office. Paul Rudd will strut his comedic chops live tonight.

Here's a taste:

Sunday, November 16th

Masterpiece Contemporary: "Filth" - PBS 9:00pm ET

In addition to the witty Ricky Gervais, my anglophile self is looking forward to the BBC/WGBH co-produced film "Filth", airing Sunday night on PBS' Masterpiece Contemporary. It's stars Julie Walters, known for her roles in "Educating Rita","Mamma Mia" and "Harry Potter" among comedy characterizations and stage performances. She portrays the legendary Mary Whitehouse, the grand dame of practical standards of taste and social propriety who in 1963 kicked forth her own crusade against potty mouth and bad form, that lasted through the 1990's. During this long stretch of time, she held the country and government accountable for the bad taste she felt pervaded the British public through television and radio. She became the nation's censor.

In light of the recent scandal at the BBC, where talk show host Jonathan Ross and comedian Russell Brand left abusive comments on a beloved television star's voicemail during a radio broadcast, ending in suspensions and firings of department heads, this film will be interesting. Mary Whitehouse died in 2001. One wonders what she would say about the broadcast standards of today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"The Office: Business Trip" or "How the Parking Lot of Doom has been Redeemed"

I begin by plugging the highlight reel of "Business Trip". For this fan, the Jim and Pam storyline has always been the most heart stopping, heart breaking, anxiety inducing aspect of this show. From seasons one through five, the roller coaster never ended as one sadness melted into happiness that folded into wait and see.

The latest Jim and Pam angst - will Pam come back from art school - finally ended last night. It concluded in the "Parking Lot of Doom" - that horrible spanse of concrete, that sun baked, harsh square of despair that has plagued Jim and Pam since that chilly Casino Night when he confessed his love for her and she turned him down. Since then, the parking lot has been the car park of depression as Pam gazed upon Karen rubbing Jim's back, Jim's gut wrenching news to Pam that he had "sort of started to see someone", and the thwarted proposal that put the Halpert/Beesly engagement on hold through summer, making us wring our hands and eat our hearts out. But no more. The Parking Lot of Doom is now the Parking Lot of Euphoria, as it bore witness to the welcomed return of Pam Beesly after months away in New York.

Much like last week's "Customer Survey", "Business Trip" continued the fine humor and heartache so instrumental in making "The Office" must see television.

After a ridiculously funny cold open, where Michael gives the crew a talk about international business, announcing that he's going to the far off land known as "C'nada", and then using Meredith's face as an example of culture offensiveness in a place such as Abu Dhabi, we're off to the races on a business trip driven by David Wallace, who feels Michael has had it rough with Holly's departure, giving him a treat of Canadian November.

With Andy and Oscar in tow, they fly off on Butte Airlines to the land up north with DVD's, egg salads and promises of drunken nights and friendly concierges.

Oh, and complimentary blind folds for a nice little nap. Watch the drink cart, Michael.

Meanwhile back at Dunder Mifflin, Jim is indeed counting down the days until Pam's return. He has a spring in his step, a whistle on his lips and a smile on his face. In fact, everyone is counting down the days for him. Phyllis gives him motherly knowing looks. Stanley grunts his encouragement. Kevin gives him the old athlete butt slap, and Creed provides creepy shoulder rubs acknowledging the anticipation. Jim is creeped out. So are we. The birds are singing, unicorns and rainbows and bouncing about. We are all happy.

Then Pam calls with bad news. She's failing art school because of stupid Flash and Quark and all those funky artsy software tools she thought she should learn. Another twelve weeks would right everything. But, do they want to do this all again?

They despair. We despair. For the second week in a row, six million women are on planes to Scranton to hug Jim. He insists that she should consider staying, only to come back to Scranton "the right way", that working on her art is her dream. Poor Pam, sitting there all alone. She needed some major hugs too. She wants to come home. Jim's breath is knocked right out of his lungs. But, it's going to be ok.


Meanwhile, back in Kelly's nook, Ryan is plying his Howard charms in wooing her back. She holds firm, claiming that she's never getting back with him. The pain. The hurt. Her solid relationship with Darryl. Never. Ever.

That lasted two minutes...

Winnipeg seems to have let Oscar's inhibitions run a bit, since a drunk Oscar is a giddy, funny Oscar who has to ask Andy why the hell he would ever want to be with "that woman", otherwise known as Angela. It's the gooey jelly in the middle of that hard exterior that melts his Cornell heart. Andy drunk dials Angela...

"I want to see you naked"

She probably already was. "Who's that monkey?" was whispered in the background. And we know what that means. Angela's getting down and naked with "D".

Michael. Oh Michael. He seems to be himself on the outside, but he's-a-hurtin' on the inside. Trying to find some loving in the chilly November Canada night, he steals away with Concierge lady, perhaps looking for Holly in those dead eyes.

After a little roll in the hay, or perhaps just a little making out, she kicks him out of her room. Poor Michael. Dejected, lonely, bereft, in need of a cuddle, he's left out in the cold like a cat.

Leaving Winnipeg after a successful sales presentation, Michael's emotions come to the surface as we hear his true thoughts to Wallace about this consolation prize of a trip. It sucked. The shuttle was a van. The airline sucked. Why did you send her away? You knew I liked her. Why?

It's moments like these that have solidified my love of this show. Michael's heartbreak made me fall in love with him all over again. He wasn't crazy or childish. He stood up for his feelings, telling Wallace to stuff it. It was a eureka moment.

Here we are. Back at Jim's desk the Monday after the sad Pam call from New York.

Kevin fist bumps him in support. That's one day down until he sees Pam twelve weeks. The spring in Jim's step is gone. The whistle is silence. The unicorns are not leaping and the rainbows have dimmed.

Hark! The angels sing! He leaves for the day, and enters the parking lot. There's Pam. The Pam who didn't miss him but did. The Pam who didn't come back for him...but did only because she discovered she hated graphic design, and the prolonged time in New York wasn't worth being away from Jim. As is customary with the Schrutes, Dwight welcomes Pam back by offering her paperwork to copy. (If you remember, he said goodbye to her last September by handing her something to fax.) Oh, hello Dwight.

There's no mistaking the look in Jim's eyes. He can't take them off her. Pam's back.

This episode was phenomenal. It's my hope the writers are now on a roll, and will make season five a memorable one. I know there are naysayers out there already questioning why Pam had to fail, and who will nitpick and disagree with how they went with the story arc. This saddens me. The conclusion to this situation was perfection. Pam didn't fail. She pursued and persevered with classes, enjoyed New York when she could, and ran into profound decisions that had to be made.

Pam went for her dream and realized her limitations. She discovered that graphic design wasn't for her. She doesn't need to know Quark and Flash to fulfill her. Her life with Jim is an open canvas.

Oh to see her back at the Reception desk! It's not a step backward. It's a whole new perspective.

Next week's episode is "Frame Toby" - Thursday, November 20th at 9:00pm ET/8:00pm CT.

Here's a two minute replay of "Business Trip":

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BJ Novack To Leave "Office": So Long...Fire Guy

This report came from Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello yesterday, but I just haven't had the heart to post this until now. BJ Novack has asked NBC for a "leave of absence" to work on the new Quentin Terrantino film "Inglorious Bastards". It's likely he will be back on staff to continue writing episodes of "The Office", but it seems the character of Ryan Howard has run its course. Will the position of receptionist be open for the future Mrs. Halpert to return? (Entertainment Weekly: Ausiello Files)

Although I'm saddened to hear the character of Ryan is being phased out, it does make sense. His character has been arrested for fraud against Dunder Mifflin, and bringing him back, even as a temp in a branch office, has been a stretch.

Hopefully BJ will indeed return to work on the writing staff. He was a champion of the show, always enthusiastic about the quality. Whenever an episode bore his name, he was quick to say that every writer was part of that story. The pride he held for each script was inspiring. Although Jen Cellotta, Lester Lewis, Anthony Farrell, Ryah Koh, and the rest of the writing staff are among the best in the business, BJ's talent will be missed if he doesn't return to that writer's room. The show needs him. But for now, lets hope for the best.

Mad TV is No More and Other Cancelations

The long running Fox comedy sketch series has been canceled. After fourteen years on air, production will end after this season. The decision was made by Fox due to high production costs and low ratings. Co-Creator Dan Salzman will shop the show to other broadcasters.

More Cancelations:

NBC axes "Lipstick Jungle" and "My Own Worst Enemy" due to the obvious: low ratings.

NBC needs original programming, not shows trying to succeed on the heels of "The Office" and other overseas successes. Nor should they have tried to create a carbon copy of former HBO program "Sex in the City". There has to be fresh writing talent out there. Open your minds, executives! I only care because NBC is my former employer, and I'm like a spurned lover who can't get over the old affair.

New Additions to SNL Cast

Now that Amy Poehler has left SNL with new baby, funny hubby and a plate load of career choices for her picking (including the Greg Daniels NBC project), Lorne Michaels has hired two, count them, two female cast members to replace the gaping hole the lovable blond has left behind.

Michaela Watkins joins the cast of SNL. She's appeared in "The New Adventures of Old Christine", "Frank TV" and "Californication". She's been a member of L.A.'s Groundlings. Her work looks fantastic, and I think she'll be a great addition to the group.

Abby Eliot also joins the cast. She has lent her voice to "King of the Hill" and has been a member of The Upright Citizens Brigade. Her dad is actor/writer/comedian Chris Eliot. This makes me feel old. I remember seeing her dad walking down the halls of NBC like a big man on campus when he was a writer/performer on the old Letterman show. Now he has a kid who's old enough to be an SNL cast member. Yikes. She comes from good comedy stock. She'll do great.

Lorne Michaels might not be finished adding new talent to the SNL cast line up. Upon announcing the additions yesterday, he mentioned more members could be added before the season is over.

Saturday Night Live returns this Saturday, November 15th with the love of my life, Paul Rudd as guest host. Musical guest: Beyonce. NBC 11:30pm/10:30pm CT

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Hump Day Potpouri

Of all the deleted scenes of the last few months of "The Office", this is my favorite one of all. From last week's "Customer Survey".

CBS Wins Monday Night

Monday night CBS laughers "The Big Bang Theory", "How I Met Your Mother", "Two and a Half Men" and "Worst Week" have been winning over viewers recently, earning the network season high ratings this week. The sitcoms are up against second place ABC's "Dancing with the Stars", "Samantha Who" and "Boston Legal". Coming in third for the night was NBC with "Chuck", the struggling "Heroes" and "My Own Worst Enemy", as fourth place Fox wafts by with "Terminator" and "Prison Break". Although CBS was the winner, ABC and Fox programming improved their numbers, while NBC's ratings declined for the daypart. More details on Nielsen numbers in James Hibberd's "The Live Feed".

Steve Carell Alert:
Reminder that Steve Carell is on "Leno" tonight. I wonder if he'll spill the beans about what we'll be seeing on "The Office"? Or will Greg Daniels break both his arms if he does?

Office Anticipation Wednesday:

Tomorrow night's episode is "Business Trip". Michael embarks on a Canadian business trip with Oscar and Andy. Meanwhile, Jim counts down the days until Pam comes home.

The episodes going forward have no promo photos, no leakage, no nothing. The crew remains so tight lipped that Jenna Fischer's incredible MySpace blog has been missing her almost-daily updates about what's going on on set. Are they staying quiet so nothing accidentally falls out of the bag? After all, if Jenna mentions she's laughing it up with Ed Helms, or doing a scene with Angela (or if Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey do the same about Jenna), we will know that scenes with Pam in Scranton are taking place, ruining the surprise that maybe Pam could be back? Or not? Damn the angst ridden melancholia of this show. Happy thoughts.

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...Happy thoughts...
Happy Thoughts...
Happy Thoughts...
Happy thoughts...

"The Office: Business Trip" Airs tomorrow night on NBC 9:00pm ET/8:00 CT

(Photos courtesy of