Saturday, June 23, 2007

Let's talk about a show that was cancelled YEARS ago.

Yesterday I talked about why the Simpsons pisses me off. Today: Newsradio!

Okay, this isn't entirely fair. Newsradio wasn't so great at the end of the run as it was at the beginning, but it was never quite so terrible, and also ended rather than being dragged to its horrible, screaming hell. But still, I think I know where it went wrong, and no... it's not Phil Hartman's fault for getting murdered.

These people aren't supposed to be friends. That's the glory of the office comedy: these people are together against their will and are perfectly welcome to despise each other. They aren't friends, they aren't family, they are just a step above strangers. That's how it is in real life, and to make them all best of friends who happen to work together is not just unrealistic, it's fairly lame. Animosity makes for comedy, so why would you ruin a setup fraught with sympathetic animosity?

Nobody liked Bill. Nobody except Beth trusted Dave, and Dave didn't trust anyone but Lisa. Matthew was annoying, but couldn't be so annoying that it was unreasonable for people who didn't love him to deal with him. Joe skulked about like someone who had no real business being with those around him, because he really didn't. And Mr. James came in like a whirlwind with a palpable sense of terror in the office. There was stress and hate and fighting and fear and it was all sorts of wonderful. The sort of thing The Office does, only with a laugh track instead of awkwardness.

And then somehow, we're at the last season. And Bill died, so everyone chose to replace him with Max, because they were friends. And Matthew is completely useless, but people stick up for him anyway. And Joe sits at the table with everyone else. And Mr. James is everyone's friend. And the only thing that has stayed even remotely true is Dave, who's still distrusted and distrustful, but now it's a character trait and not a function of his position. And it's a family, and they hang out after work,and sometimes you'll see an episode and ask yourself "wait, don't these people have JOBS?", because the station stopped being a setting and started being a setpiece, a place where friends could gather at the beginning of their adventures.

Of course, it was still good, but it was good because the actors were talented and the writers had a little juice left in them. But it ended not a moment too soon, because it was already a parody of itself. Ta ta, Newsradio.

2 Comments:

Blogger Vincent said...

See, the brilliance of the original Office was that there was no laugh track, just the painful, awkward, hilarious silences.

It was glorious.

6/23/2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger Jose said...

I'm pretty sure the remake of The Office also doesn't have a laugh track. That was his point.

Also, space heater.

6/23/2007 10:20 PM  

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