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Layoffs would bring new life to 'The Office'

Office_scott300 The Office" is sagging and it is a conundrum to which there is only one real solution: fire Michael Scott. Or Steve Carell. Whatever it takes.

Early on, taking after Ricky Gervais' David Brent on the original British version of the show, Michael was a catalyst for misbehavior and ill will. He was difficult, verging on unlovable; you almost had to shield your eyes watching him, so great was his capacity for awkwardness.

But as the American version has aged, evolving beyond the structure of its predecessor, the expectation that Michael will occupy the same amount of space as he did during the show's earlier seasons, when his gaffes were more gratuitous, has become burdensome.

And exhausted too. Carell can't quite play him as the simp he once was: His shoulders are slightly squarer, his hair slightly better, his uncertainty a little more certain. It's as if the show no longer believes in the character's wacky potential.

Instead, in order to breathe new life into Michael, he has become something that was virtually impossible in earlier seasons, given the naive arrogance that motivated his behavior: sympathetic. Many of the show's recent episodes have been dragged down by Michael's depression in the wake of his split with Holly Flax (Amy Ryan).

Read more Layoffs would bring new life to 'The Office'

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It's a bigger problem that just the character of Michael Scott. The Office seems to be adrift at present, one week focusing on plot advancement and the next week verging off on a tangent. The writing has deteriorated somewhat, with occasional moments of brilliance and long periods of so-so dross. Perhaps the writers are more intent on getting Parks and Recreation off to a good start; perhaps the order from NBC for 29 half-hours was too much. In any case, something needs to snap The Office out of its doldrums.


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