Dunder Mifflin: Ground Zero of the Zombie Apocalypse
The lifeless body of Dwight Schrute returned to television this year to sell paper and feed off of the living…in tiny, 30 minute increments. Most of the rest of the cast came shuffling along with him along the undead trail of tears that is this season of the office.
For all intents and purposes The Office died last year when Steve Carell left the show. He apparently took their collective brain with him when he walked away, leaving the rest of the show to exist using only the stem.
The problem with continuing The Office past last season is that as far as the death of a series goes, the season finale last summer was a beautiful one. In final scene of the Steve Carell’s last episode we watched as Michael Scott removed his microphone and walked away from the film crew to board the plane that would permanently take him away from Scranton Pennsylvania and off to a new life. Pam, the only member of the office that he had not had a chance to say goodbye too, rushed into the shot, carrying her shoes (she had presumably bought a ticket and had to get through the airport security screening in order to catch up with Michael before he got on his flight). They hug, and the audience watches as the shows two principal characters share an emotional farewell. Because Michael has removed his microphone the viewers can see them speaking to one another, but are not privy to the words that pass between them.
There were no more lines spoken in this episode to spoil that scene. That moment was allowed to stand on its own. As a series finale they couldn’t have done better. It wrapped things up with emotion and grace. The Office peacefully and beautifully died right there.
Unfortunately it looks like an NBC executives was bitten by one of the disease carrying twits who are currently squatting in Zuccotti Park because the undead corpse of the show kept moving despite the fact that the heart and soul had left the building. “The Office” now plods along as a pale reflection of what it once was.
There were a number of mistakes that turned a once great ensemble cast into a motley collection of extras from “The Walking Dead”, or a Michael Jackson video. First, they replaced the Kathy Bates character with James Spader. His portrayal of a CEO that is half Gordon Gekko and half Kwai Chang Caine was a lateral move at best. The lateral move would have worked if Steve Carell had stayed and played off of the Spader’s quirks or if Carell’s replacement was able to take the ball and run with it.
In a spasm of poor judgment that proves that the people who work at NBC get most of their best ideas during a colonoscopy, they decided not to replace Steve Carrell. Do you know what is better than replacing a character as big as Michael Scott with nothing? ANYTHING!
The character portrayed by Ed Helms (Andy Bernard) got the promotion to Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin and took Michael Scott’s place as ringmaster of the Scranton, PA circus. This doesn’t work because the ugly truth about Ed Helms is that he is an excellent character actor but not good in a lead role. Mr. Helms is much more Ed Norton from the Honeymooners than he is Edward James Olmos. They would have been better off if NBC had brought back John O'Hurley to reprise his role as Seinfeld’s J. Peterman, who took over Dunder Mifflin so that he could get lower cost paper for his catalogues (actually that might have been pretty funny).
Michael Scott was the life of the show, and now that life is gone…yet the program goes on in an undead stupor. The rest of the cast now walk from scene to scene as caricatures of their former selves. One can almost see Kevin with his arms stretched out in front of him moaning out the words Braaaaaiiiins….Braaaaains.” Somebody should have done the audience a favor and shot this zombie of a sit-com in the head and ended its pain. Hopefully this will happen before Rainn Wilson bites Kaley Cuoco and turns her into a zombie as well (although I can understand the temptation to do so).