Friday, March 18, 2011

Is it time for NBC to shut down "The Office"?

Actually, before we get into that, if I had to put money on what David O. Russell will direct next, I'd say it will actually be a sequel to "The Fighter," simply because that movie was so good and because the next chapter in the life of Micky Ward - his epic trilogy of fights with Arturo Gatti - is a gold mine of source material. However, if that doesn't happen, Fox Searchlight is eyeing him for something that could be almost as fun.

Deadline is reporting that the studio has offered to buy for him a biopic based on the life of B-movie king Russ Meyer. Take a second to think about the melding of those two personalities. "Temple Grandin" (and man did I like that movie) scribe Merritt Johnson will write the script. Who knows which path Russell will take next, but here's hoping he just chooses something very soon.

After that today, at least before we get to a trio of fun clips, it's all about TV, and why it's really time for NBC to close "The Office." Now, as a fan of the show from the beginning, it brings me no joy to say that, but even the best of things on TV have a shelf life, and it just seems like the workplace comedy's time has come.

What got me thinking about all that was the news that NBC has just renewed "The Office," "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" for next season. Not found in that news release were two other good things: "30 Rock," which as last night's Queen Jordan episode proved is still sublimely funny, was renewed long ago, and as of yet at least, "Outsourced" has not yet been picked up. Please, please, please keep it that way.

"Community," while losing a bit of the comic edge it had in season one, is still consistently good from week to week, but the best of the bunch this season has been "Parks and Recreation," which, according to NBC at least, is up 17 percent over last season in the 18-49 bracket. The dry humor and near-perfect ensemble that make "Parks and Recreation" work so well are exactly the same ingredients that worked for "The Office" until fairly recently.

The problem with "The Office," along with a simple dropoff in the overall level of funny, is that the characters, through no fault of the people who play them, are just way too familiar by now, and no matter how hard they try, there's just nothing surprising any more.

That will change, of course, at the end of this season as a new Dunder-Mifflin manager is named to replace the departing Michael Scott (Steve Carell). Carell is clearly far from a dumb guy, and if he knows its over, everyone else will probably figure that out by the end of next season, by my guess.

OK, enough about that. It's not only Friday morning, but one beginning a weekend with two theater movies I actually want to see, the comedies "Paul" and "Cedar Rapids" (the latter of which just opened a half hour down the road in Centerville), so let's move on to something more fun with videos. First up comes a genuinely crazy clip from James Gunn's "Super," set to open in at least a couple of theaters - and hopefully on IFC On Demand on cable nearly simultaneously - April 1. In it, you'll see where exactly Rainn Wilson's character gets his inspiration to become a demented superhero of sorts, and if anything, this just proves that, thankfully, the movie should be just nuts. Enjoy.

OK, next up, and this really needs very few words from me, is a behind-the-scenes look at part two of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which will finally bring the boy wizard's saga to an end starting July 15. I loved the first half, so this should just rule. Enjoy.

And, clearly saving the best for last, Funny or Die has really been on a roll of late, and this Darren Aronofsky clip is among its best. In it, Aronofsky talks about his original idea for "Black Swan," which started out as "The Deli Manager," about the character played by comedian Todd Barry in Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." Even better, at the end, Barry acts out some of his scenes from the early version. Priceless. Enjoy, and have a great weekend. Peace out.

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