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What I Watched Last Night

I'm not a big fan of NBC's The Office. I've seen it a mess of times and there's nothing wrong with the show itself, really. It's funny enough in its own special bizarro way, it's good enough, and gosh darn it, people like it. For me, though, the whole show just reminds me of a lot of people I've worked with (and for) in the past. People I wished would get hit by trains or would probably be okay if they'd just spring for a Learning Annex class on growing a personality. So I have a hard time finding humor in the rampantly ignorant and stupid in the same way a lot of people would find more Dilbert comic strips funnier if they just weren't so real.

I was just too tired/lazy to even look for the remote to see what was on elsewhere after the never-disappointing My Name Is Earl (which NBC seems intent on trying to kill off this season, having moved it to a miserable 7 p.m. time slot), so I found myself starting to actually like The Office a lot. The humor still has the same bizarro quality that you find in the comic strips in the back of the Reader, but Thursday's episode was the first time I actually laughed aloud. Many times. Or maybe I was just too worn out from the workday, like one of those guys who gets grilled by the cops for 96 hours straight and just says he did it to get some sleep and a bologna sandwich.

At any rate, in honor of frumpy office sales rep Phyllis' upcoming wedding, head Dunder Mifflin Paper Company office honcho and social spaz Michael Scott (Steve Carell) decides to throw twin bachelor and bachelorette parties for everyone at the office. At the office. Since he's the delegator who believes in employee empowerment, he leaves it up to sales rep and fellow social spaz Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson, who could easily double for lawyerly social spaz Jerry Espenson on Boston Legal) to obtain the female stripper, and sales rep Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) - the only non-spaz of the bunch - to obtain the male stripper. Halpert wants nothing to do with it, so in retribution he rents a Ben Franklin impersonator from some Pennsylvania scholastic society, and lots of hilarity ensues when it begins to dawn on the women that the guy's not a male stripper in a Ben Franklin getup. "Didn't you have syphilis?" one asks modern Ben; "Didn't you have an illegitimate son?" asks another. After awhile, Ben starts hitting on the women, and office honcho Michael wonders how a sleazebag like Ben Franklin ever got to be president.

Later, plenty of laughs go on when Michael grills up steaks for the men and makes a point of announcing several times that he's grilling up "man meat" for everyone. The female stripper turns out to be considerably less than hot, considerably less coordinated than even a bargain-bin dancer who smells like Tide detergent ought to be, and considerably less than warmly received. Office honcho Michael freaks out in a fit of guilt three seconds into a lap dance and sends everyone back to work, including the stripper, who is ordered by Dwight to answer phones. "We paid you for three hours work, and we're going to get it," Dwight tells her. Or something like that. I was starting to doze off.

Finally, Dwight - "almost 99 percent sure this guy is not the real Ben Franklin" - spends the show's closing seconds in a losing battle of trivia.

I originally intended to see whether Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program was as dumb as my girlfriend says it is, but I was dead asleep by the 150th time Tom Cruise and John Travolta were asked to come out of the closet on South Park.

*

Previously, in What I Watched Last Night.



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Posted on February 2, 2007


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