What happened? This show was very, very funny for the first two seasons or so. Michael Scott was virtually psychotic, totally narcissistic, and pathologically self-centered. Dwight, a smart fool, was an original creation, by television standards. Jim and Pam were the only sane members of the circus, unrequited, indulgent, graceful.
Then, I suppose, came the market research and the audience response surveys and the feedback and the awards and the popular perception that this was THE show to watch, except that most of these people suddenly tuning in because they were told this was THE show to watch were really not equipped to enjoy the genuinely edgy, original content... So the producers jiggered. They Fonzified it. They took out the guts and the originality and freshness and made it like "I Love Lucy". I can't wait for the episode in which everyone forgets Michael's birthday (until-- surprise-- they were planning a surprise party all along!).
So they jiggered. So Pam and Jim had to consummate their reciprocal good sense, thereby removing the most interesting relationship in the show. So Jim spends all of his time giving knowing looks to the camera nowadays (aren't these people wacky!) And so Michael is no less psychotic but we are to understand, from his interactions with other characters, that he is really quite lovable and daffy and-- horror of horrors-- his hair has turned red, and his voice has become shrill, and the other characters, for reasons that are absolutely incomprehensible and inexplicable and completely implausible, just love him to death, and spend most of their daily lives trying to think of new ways to interact with him, the big lug, even though he clearly makes life hell for anybody in direct contact with him. Because, after all, his heart is in the right place. Yes, you can have it both ways. Michael's outrageous behavior-- in real life-- would leave him isolated, lonely, and bitter. But in fantasyland, he gets to be both: a idiot who wrecks everybody's life, and a beloved whacky uncle. Hey, that's what we all want to be: not only do we want to be forgiven for our lapses in taste and good judgment-- by golly, we want to be loved for it.
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© Bill Van Dyk
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