Thursday, February 02, 2006

There is dumb, there is stupid...

... and there is trying to use "Survivor" to kick a three pack a day habit. We're only one episode in, but Shane may be the biggest moron in the history of this show.

Lot of personalities popping tonight, certainly moreso than in Guatemala at this time. I like the astronaut and the fighter pilot conveniently choosing the other as their secret-sharer, love the martial arts instructor (named Bruce!), was laughing my ass off at the nurse who's afraid of leaves and was amused by the incompetence of the young prettyboys. It's funny; "Survivor" debuted when I was in my mid-late 20s, and yet I've always tended to root for and be entertained by the older contestants. I don't know if that says something about me or about them. Probably me. (A glance at my CD collection could tell you that.)

I'm especially glad about the twist in the individual immunity idol. This is how I'd hoped it would work in Guatemala, that you only have to use it after the vote and that you cold go from a minority to a majority with a well-timed move. I wonder if you're allowed to give the idol to someone else at the right moment, or whether you're allowed to steal the idol if the person who finds it does a lousy job of concealing the thing.

Meanwhile, I think I've sucked Marian into "The Office." I thought the carpet episode last week was so funny that I forced her to watch it, and after complaining for a few minutes, she laughed a lot. And after tonight's episode -- highlighted by Pam's crying on the serious side and Dwight's styrofoam snow angel on the funny side (either that or Kelly's wink at the camera after her "second base" question) -- she's been totally sucked in by the Jim/Pam storyline.

And speaking of which, the question of the day: how do the "Office" writers deal with the Jim and Pam thing? Way back in the first season, Greg Daniels told me he sees the two best as friends, and that he was well aware of the danger of Unresolved Sexual Tension taking over his show. In the last five or six episodes, it's obvious that thinking has changed. And I'm fine with that to a point, since Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski are great together and it's obviously working at hooking in viewers.

But the British show got to play out the entire relationship over 12 episodes and a special. At a minimum, we're going to have 49 episodes of this series, counting next year's order. Are we going to spend all that time (plus any other potential seasons) with Jim pining over Pam? Do they try for that annoying trick where, just as Pam realizes her feelings for Jim, he gets over her and starts seeing someone else? Do they just let them become a happy couple within the next half season or so?

Writers always point to "Moonlighting" as a show that was ruined because the main characters slept together, but that's wrong. "Moonlighting" didn't implode because David and Maddy had sex; it imploded because immediately after they had sex (like, at the very end of that episode), Mark Harmon shows up and David and Maddy are immediately apart again, and this pissed off the viewers so much that they started to bail. "Cheers" put Sam and Diane together at the end of the first season, then split them up and reunited them over and over for another four years, always finding a fresh new take on the relationship. And I always admired the fact that Paul Simms on "NewsRadio" said to hell with the conventional wisdom and let Dave and Lisa have sex in episode two. It ruined his relationship with NBC management and probably led to the show's death by 1000 timeslots, but it was funnier than an "Ed"-like tease would have been.

So I think there are ways to make Jim and Pam as a couple work within the boundaries of the show. As we've seen with Michael and Jan, who never did more than make out while drunk one night, office gossip is a huge problem. Imagine the crap both of them would have to put up with: Michael and Kevin making lewd comments about Pam to Jim, Angela complaining to Pam about something Jim said, Kelly constantly pumping each of them for dish, etc., etc. Hell, you could even use that as an excuse to prolong things: Jim and Pam get together briefly, don't bank on the enormous headache this creates for them, split up, then get back together again. Or, following the "NewsRadio" example, they get together but try to keep it a secret.

Just spit-balling. I'm just amazed how quickly I went from liking this show to loving it. I don't even feel uncomfortable with the Michael scenes anymore; him wrecking the warehouse as Darryl complained was hysterical.

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