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‘Office’ Fail: Ferrell Unable to Rescue Floundering Show

NBC

I have this strange OCD trait where I can’t not finish a show I’ve been watching for a few years. I stuck with ’24′ until the end. I watched ‘The X-Files’ after Duchovony left. I’ve already got the next season of ‘Weeds’ on my Netflix.

And I think I’m the last person on the planet still watching “The Office” religiously even though it hasn’t been good for two to three years.

Every once in a while, it will still wring a laugh or two from me. A cast that talented and writers that skilled at surprising weirdness aren’t going to fall down on the job that completely, but the narrative of the show and the lukewarm comedic additions they’ve made the past few seasons have only further diluted the effect.

The show’s premise relied on the unlikeability of Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott and the will-they-won’t-they narrative of Jim and Pam. As a friend once told me about the early seasons of “The Office”: “I wish for Jim and Pam’s happiness more than I wish for my own.”

Yet the proverbial jumping of the shark occurred when those two finally got together, and the writers began to ask the audience to root for Michael. They turned the character into a cuddly version of the original Ricky Gervais social nightmare.

It’s instructive to go back and watch the original British version and see just how awful the character Gervais created actually is. Before a feel-good “special” ending, the series concluded with the “Pam” character shooting down the “Jim” character and leaving with her boyfriend for America. Not to mention, Gervais’s boss was fired and reduced to tearfully begging his superiors for his job. It was one of the darkest conclusions to a sitcom I’ve ever seen.

Now Will Ferrell has joined the cast at the end of this season in an attempt to pump some life into the show before Carrell’s departure for full-fledged movie stardom. And it’s Will Ferrell, who can be funny in almost any situation, so I won’t pretend as if I don’t like it. Yet his presence only confirms that the show is completely washed up. He’s playing an authoritarian Michael Scott and the result is an unrealized half-character.

If I had to gamble on it, I’d say his character is gay and will eventually be lured into an affair with Angela’s state senator boyfriend. If I’m wrong, then the series has really begun to wander into the narrative weeds, but if I’m right then it’s telegraphing its every move.

If there are any “Office” fans left out there, please weigh in below.