Spoilers for "The Office" just as soon as I do a blind taste test of Utz vs. Herr's chips...
As soon as word got out that NBC was going to adapt "The Office," everyone's default assumption was that they would screw it up, that they would water down the boss character by making him more sympathetic, that the workplace couldn't be nearly as depressing, that there would be hugs, etc., etc.
As it turned out, Michael Scott is more sympathetic than David Brent, the Dunder-Mifflin folk hate their jobs but occasionally have fun (thanks mainly to Jim), there have been hugs in a lot of episodes... and if forced to choose between the British series or the equivalent number of American episodes in a Desert Island Disc-type challenge, I wouldn't think twice about going with Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight and the rest.
This episode really illustrated the genius of what Greg Daniels and company have accomplished here. I frequently feel bad for Michael in a way I never did for David, but the awareness that he's just a sad and lonely little man doesn't in any way mitigate what an ass he can be most of the time. In that way, I guess my reaction is a bit like Pam. She usually can't stand him, takes advantage of opportunities to get one over on him (the coffee gag pre-credits), but she also knew that the hug request wasn't a come-on, and she had the decency to not only make the bird coffin but craft a eulogy that got at the heart of Michael's despair about dying alone. And then, just as I'm on the verge of "Awwww...," Dwight and Pam begin dueting on "On the Wings of Love." Genius.
(One question about Michael's fear: if he's been dating Carol the realtor for several months, I don't know that he'd be quite as freaked about being alone. Either the relationship isn't going nearly as well as Michael would have us believe -- not at all outside the realm of possibility -- or the writers have dropped the ball a little. I totally see Michael as the guy who won't shut up about his awesome new girlfriend, and he usually only mentions her to the camera crew.)
It's interesting to see how Jim has succeeded in creating a new Pam (and with a woman who doesn't come with her own Roy attached), while Pam is still adrift. She got Ryan and Kevin to play along with her movie reference joke, but overall she's become more of a solo act. Given her body language in the car scene, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see her take Roy back -- perhaps just in time to discover that Jim is dating Bizarro Pam.
Question of the day: Who's funnier, Stanley or Creed? Both usually get only one or two lines an episode, but they always slay me.
Back later to catch up on some Tuesday and Wednesday shows, plus "Grey's" and, if I have time to watchthem, "Ugly Betty" and "Survivor."