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Viewing File: "Community," "Parks and Recreation," "The Office"

By admin Published: March 5, 2010

After the jump, I ponder why John Krasinski is being turned into Jack Lemmon.

Let me begin by saying I am going to praise a movie that is quite sexist, because it is also darkly, beautifully funny. That movie is "How To Murder Your Wife," a 1965 film with Lemmon as the creator of an adventure comic strip, and the liver of a boy's perfect life; he is unmarried, wealthy, care-free and able to act out in grandiose ways -- for instance by testing the action stunts he wants to use in his comic strip. Then, one drunken night, he gets married. All the adventure is sucked from his life (and from his comic strip) as he is increasingly domesticated.

Other events ensue, including a climax which is mean but plausible when you look deep into the hearts of many men. But I'm thinking less about the end than about the Lemmon transformation in the movie, and whether that is also what is happening to Jim on "The Office."

In other words, when did he become such a doofus?

I can understand Jim having to change from his confident, smug ways once his relationship with Pam moved into marriage and, now, parenthood. And it has been funny at times to see Pam assert herself with Jim. But on Thursday's show he had a really bad case of Bumbling TV Dad Syndrome, and I fear that the show will be hitting this note more and more.

But with a couple of small exceptions (one being the realization that the wrong baby was nursed), Thursday's hour was smile-inducing more than laugh-getting. And I'm not sure about some of those smiles. Happy for Andy and Erin (I hope). Very odd to be rooting for Angela, for one thing, but Dwight was so cruel to her -- admittedly, in a very Dwight way -- that I wanted her to salvage a sliver of happiness from the deal. In fact, Dwight was pretty awful throughout the episode, and no amount of new cabinets was going to make up for that.

Still, my bigger worry is Jim-Pam. Old Jim never would have waited so long to take her to the hospital. Old Jim would have done something about the car sooner. Old Jim would understand and deal with Pam in a better way. New Jim is eventually going to be driven to the extremes facing Lemmon's character, and that won't be funny at all.

"The Office" was especially lacking on a night when "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" were on game. "Community" was very funny, and detailed in the humor; go back and look at the faces in the audience during the pool game. The laughs steadily built, the secondary story was not overdone. "Parks and Recreation," meanwhile, was a smart character piece -- Ron's constant messing with Leslie (the photo shoot may have been my favorite part) fits in with their relationship, and Ron's going soft at the awards ceremony was balanced by the ensuing reactions; Ron really, really didn't want the award, and the "Get off the stage" capped the way the battle about the plaque was played as uncomfortable instead of traditional-sitcom laugh-laugh-laugh.

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