Tag Archives: The Office

The Office With a Heart

I adore British comedy. From Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to Are you Being Served, the Brits always seem to have something designed to tickle myricky-gervais-david-brent American sensibilities. However with the exception of The Office English comedic television  has seemed as dreary as a November afternoon in jolly London town.

When Ricky Gervais created a vehicle to showcase his brand of awkward comedy he effectively changed the comedy landscape on both sides of the pond. The mockumentery about an inept manager at a failing paper company breathed new life into the workplace sitcom. Gervais followed this with a few terrible movies, a stint hosting the Golden Globes and a fantastic travel miniseries called An Idiot Abroad.

In his Netflix original series Derek, Gervais revisits his roots while stepping beyond them. Derek is shot in the same mockumentery style as the Office. The writer/director/actor plays the title character, a fifty year old caretaker at an end of life nursing facility. The staff and patience make up the remainder of the cast.

Derek seems to be mildly mentally handicapped in a way that is as yet not fully disclosed. He is kind hearted, but often confused by social convention. I expected the outrageous and often over the top Gervais to take jokes about Derek’s disability beyond an acceptable place. Instead of exploiting Derek’s shortcomings for cheap laughs Gervais transcends expectation. He delivers a relatable, and loveable portrait of a high functioning individual.

Some of the funniest moments in the show involve Derek showing YouTube videos to the camera and explaining them as while they are playing. Gervais gives us in these moments what appears to be true laughter and pride coming from a character that is trying to make you laugh with him–not at him. There are how ever plenty of opportunities to laugh at this program. derek_group

The always hilarious Karl Pilkington and David Earl portray Derek’s best friends Dougie and Kev. Both of whom, though younger than him, see Derek as a little brother. They have their fun with him; though, they are quick to prevent others from doing so. Dougie takes many asides with the camera explaining his philosophy of life which is often dark and uproarious. Kev is the resident “horndog” always drunk and always looking for a good time.

Derek is subtle even gentle  in it’s humor, often the big laughs come from trying to imagine similar events happening in your work place. It is quite a bit more dramatic than Extras or The Office. You will alternate between nervous laughter and the brink of tears. All the while truly enjoying a fine comedy. The first 7 episodes of the series are currently available on Netflix instant streaming.

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When Are My Shows Back?

I think I probably watch too much television. It’s kinda hard not to, though. With so many good and promising new shows on TV these days (even on the networks, shockingly enough), it’s difficult not to pay attention…or, at least not to pack up the old DVR like a fat kid at a cake buffet.

(What? They don’t have cake buffets? Cake buffets totally need to be a thing.)

Some of my favorite shows are already back for the fall season. Doctor Who is back on BBC America at 9 p.m. on Saturdays. I love me some Doctor, and we have a great recapper/reviewer here on The Cool Ship, so make sure you check him out (both the Doctor and the writer!). His articles are here, here, and here.

Alphas and Warehouse 13 on SyFy premiered weeks ago, and I’m already dreading when they go on hiatus. They’re on Mondays at 8 and 9 p.m., respectively. SyFy has branded the block “Powerful Mondays,” a moniker I’m not convinced is the best. I’m a fan of alliteration, though. Meh.

ABC’s Revenge is definitely on my list. Because Emily will get them all. SHE WILL GET THEM ALL! Image courtesy of ABC.

NBC is really pumped about Revolution. It premiered last Monday, and you can’t hope to miss the advertising for it if you happen on the Peacock for 60 seconds or less. But, other than the annoyance of over-saturation, I must say that I’m still interested. I caught the premiere and saw enough that made me want to come around for another view. It’s on after The Voice, which is usually 10 p.m.

Then, there’s a whole slew of returning comedies I pay attention to (Whether I watch them or not is a different story.):

NBC

Up All Night – Already premiered. Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.

The Office – Already premiered. Thursdays at 9 p.m.

Parks and Recreation – Already premiered. Thursdays at 9:30 p.m.

30 Rock – Oct. 4 (Thursday) at 8 p.m.

Community – Oct. 19 (Friday) at 8:30 p.m.

CBS (Step up your game, CBS. You don’t interest me much.)

How I Met Your Mother – Monday (Sept. 24) at 8 p.m.

FOX

Glee – Already premiered. Thursdays at 9 p.m.

New Girl – Tuesday (Sept. 25) at 8 p.m. Looks like there’s another new show at 9 p.m. that night, too, which is when I’m guessing it’ll live since…

Raising Hope – Oct. 2 (Tuesday) at 8 p.m.

ABC

The Middle – Wednesday (Sept. 26) at 8 p.m.

Modern Family – Wednesday (Sept. 26) at 9 p.m.

Happy Endings – Oct. 23 (Tuesday) at 9 p.m.

Last Man Standing – Nov. 2 (Friday) at 8 p.m.

Okay, let’s talk dramas. I have to say that I’m eternally grateful for my DVR. Not so much because there are so many, but more because a lot of them start at 10 p.m. or are on days that just aren’t convenient for me. I’m old; I like to go to bed at a reasonable time. Jon Stewart be darned!

NBC

Parenthood –  Already premiered. Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

Grimm – Already premiered, but already on hiatus. Returns Sept. 28 (Friday) at 9 p.m.

Smash – There’s no posted return date. This worries me.

ABC

Castle – Monday (Sept. 24) at 10 p.m.

Once Upon a Time – Sept. 30 (Sunday) at 8 p.m.

Revenge – Sept. 30 (Sunday) at 9 p.m.

I’m not even going to talk about new shows on the networks, because there are lots. Lots seem to be bad ideas (I’m looking at you, The Neighbors), and lots look too melodramatic.

Not that I can talk about melodrama…I mean, look at my choices! REEEEEEVENGE!

I know, I’m a walking contradiction, and I’m proud of it!

And cable? Gosh. Too much. My DVR would explode.

What shows are you looking forward to this fall season?

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NBC Keeps on Failing

From Wikimedia Commons

NBC keeps failing.

As I watched the coverage of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, I couldn’t keep myself from yelling at Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira to just shut up and let the program happen. It wasn’t a freaking parade!

Then, I started to wonder why NBC keeps screwing up so royally on everything. I still don’t have a definitive answer, but I do miss the ’90s when they were running shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and Mad About You.

So what, that I can see, is NBC’s problem?

A lot of things.

Identity – NBC is struggling to figure out what kind of network they are. Remember how I mentioned the ’90s? NBC used to be a darling for acclaimed shows. Law & Order, Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, etc. were all widely watched and critical hits. However, after the ’90s ended, cable channels began to rise in prominence, bringing the new critical favorites: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Monk, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Weeds, and others. The list goes on and on.

Cable channels can do things that NBC can’t. Now, NBC is left trying to make poor copies of what cable is doing (The Playboy Club…really, NBC?).

As for Law & Order and its million spin-offs, it’s been replaced by CSI, NCIS, Person of Interest, Hawaii 5-0, and all their billion spin-offs.

What NBC is left with is… nothing.

The audience that NBC wants right now seems to be young, smart, media-savvy people, who like to have their media choices scheduled by corporations. (Pro-tip: I’m not sure that audience exists. Too bad for Community.)

The Writer’s Strike – Of the Big Four networks (CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC), NBC was hit the hardest by the 2007-2008 writer’s strike. None of the shows it put up to replace the scripted shows were a success, and ad-revenue and ratings dropped by around 10 percent. Making Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno return without a writing staff didn’t garner any good will from the Writer’s Guild, either (It should be noted that David Letterman managed to come to an interim agreement with the WGA).

The Writer’s Strike also managed to shorten the season of NBC’s most popular show at the time, Heroes. It’s my opinion that the show never recovered from the shortened season, and the quality of the show plummeted during season two.

The Tonight Show Controvesy – This debacle probably hurt NBC the most in terms of public relations, but it also hurt them  in the ratings.

When Jay Leno was moved to his prime time slot, and ultimately failed to get the ratings (affiliates were pretty upset), NBC was left with a hard decision. Rather than have a show fail in one time slot, though, it effectively failed in five. NBC had to find a way to fill five prime time slots, none of which went on to garner huge ratings (I believe that the only show from that time that is still airing is Parenthood, which I think is a great show, by the way).

The firing of Conan O’Brien really hurt the network in the PR department. Many celebrities and fans immediately rejected Leno as The Tonight Show host, and although Jay’s ratings have recovered, his image was permanently damaged.

The Today Show- NBC’s biggest moneymaker is the morning show staple, but even its ratings have been declining as of late. I’ve heard a lot of reasons given for this, but I’m going to focus on two.

1.) Matt Lauer is getting harder and harder to work with. Rumor is that the guy isn’t very nice to his co-workers and was basically behind Ann Curry being fired.

2.) It’s become waaaay too pop culture oriented. I don’t watch a whole lot of The Today Show, but what I see when I watch is coverage of popular YouTube videos, news sensationalism, and interviews with useless pseudo-celebs. If other channels are picking up the slack and covering real news, I can see why the ratings are slipping.

Asim Bharwani [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Streaming, Cable, YouTube, Video Games – NBC, like most of the networks, wasn’t ready for the Internet entertainment revolution. NBC also doesn’t seem to understand that the younger demographic they are targeting with shows like 30 Rock and Community aren’t going to watch a lot of TV when it initially airs. There are too many other entertainment choices out there. Plus, NBC hasn’t figured out a way to make a lot of money from Hulu, yet.

The Olympics -This is what got me thinking about the topic in the first place. I’m not sure how NBC could do the Olympics better, but they could start with not airing promos including who won the gold medal before they publicly air the event.

Also, could they air better events? I’m sick to death of gymnastics and swimming. Let’s see some fencing, boxing, judo, and other events where people fight. Those things are awesome.

Cris Colinsworth – I hate this guy with a passion, so I had to include him.

All-in-all, these are the reasons I think NBC is failing in the ratings game. Its biggest problem is that it just doesn’t know what it is anymore, especially since other cable networks are doing it better than they are.

Also, The Office has overstayed its welcome. Can we let it die already?

Also too, just give Alison Brie her own show.

[Featured Image: By ASTaylor [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

 

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