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The Office – Happy Hour

One common complaint about The Office now days is how often the show leaves the comforts of Dunder Mifflin (I suppose I should call it Dunder Mifflin/Sabre now..) and focuses on the situations that occur outside of the office.  I have to agree with this since “The Office” was created as a mockumentary about Dunder Mufflin and it should focus primarily on Dunder Mifflin related topics.  However, over the past two seasons, I’ve stopped viewing the show as a documentary on the company and more of a documentary about the employees who work there.  I mean, why else would this crew follow everybody to Jim and Pam’s wedding or visit Dwight at his exclusive beet farm?  It’s a show about mid-level employees doing their best to survive in a strange and somewhat surreal world where they can be attacked at any moment by strange and hyper bosses, maniacal employees and other paper related fiascos.  This episode takes place almost completely outside of the office, but it allows us to be re-introduced to some great supporting characters who sometimes get lost behind Michael’s gigantic ego and Jim and Pam’s cute, but admittedly time-consuming relationship.  This was an episode where the strengths are derived from the supporting cast.

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24 – “Day 8: 3:00 A.M. – 4:00 A.M. “

What 24 needs right now is an hour long episode filled with every element that has made the show successful for the past four years. Unfortunately, previous episodes this season have failed to deliver these elements, and Season 8 has suffered because of it. That said, however, this episode was a breath of fresh air; a reminder that 24’s writers and show runners still know how to keep their fans on their toes.

24 is a show where one must suspend their idea of what is real and what isn’t, or what is possible and what is impossible. The first season of the show was slightly more realistic than any of the seasons that followed, and it appears we’ll never have a season so simple in the way the plot is laid out. Season 8 has undergone at least four different villain changes so far. Just as we grow used to the intricacies that are controlling these bad guys, they’re killed off. The most disappointing death so far was Josef Bazhaev. They introduced him, hinted at his motives and than killed him off as if he were nothing more than a glorified extra. I was disappointed, especially since the villain who took his place, Samir, is so bland and two-dimensional (can a character be one-dimensional? Because Samir is really pushing it..) But Taran has proven to be a clever, sneaky and complex character. When he showed up on CTU’s cameras, I was completely shocked. I expected him to be dead, but 24 is one of those shows where you can never be sure somebody is dead until you see their body being lowered into the ground (and I’m sure it’s questionable even then).

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Lost – Dr. Linus

Remember back in Season 1, when life on Lost was simple? A group of men, women, children and a dog named Vincent crashed on a mysterious island, and they were trying to get off by building a raft and keeping signal fires burning? I’ll admit, and I’m sure I won’t be the first to admit it, I miss the simple days of Lost, when plot development was sometimes passed over in place of character development. It was nice to learn about these characters for the first time, and as the show continued, I feel as if the whole flashback dynamic stopped working, mostly because it was simply reiterating what we already knew about these characters. The introduction of the flash-forward was cool for a while, but it soon became dull.  I still don’t know if it’s because I just grew sick of the whole “jumping back and forth to the past or future” schtick or if I just grew sick of hearing the word “flash-forward” from ABC’s other serial drama. Either way, earlier Lost episodes benefited from being able to take characters we didn’t know much about and using flashbacks to fill in the blank spaces.

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Lost – Ab Aeterno

Some may accuse me of being biased, of not being objective in reviewing episodes of shows I happen to like a lot. And I say to those people.. you’re probably right. However, I like to give shows benefits of the doubt and not be too harsh on them, especially when their worst episodes are better than a lot of the drivel on TV right now. Long story short: tonight’s episode of Lost was incredible, an hour or so of great acting, writing and (dare I say it) explaining. Well, maybe not full-blown explanations, but anybody who’s not happy by the scenes between Jacob and Richard, or Jacob and the Man in Black at the end, are crazy, and you probably won’t be happy with anything Lost has to offer from here on out. I was very happy with the way tonight’s episode played out, and while I think an episode this dense deserves more than a few hours of thought and consideration, I feel I should write it while it’s fresh in my mind.

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The Office – “St. Patrick’s Day”

I am definitely one of the fans of The Office who have found Season 6 to be less than stellar. The show seems to have hit its creative peak in Seasons 2 and 3 and ever since, it’s been more focused on showing the characters delving into ridiculous situations that are far from realistic, yet funny at the same time. However, just because a show is funny doesn’t mean it’s as entertaining as it used to be. I don’t think The Office has reached the point yet where it can be considered bad by any stretch of the imagination. And from what I can see, people are just not feeling the new episodes. However, I thought this episode had some great work by the supporting characters and some increasingly irritating work by Michael Scott, who has turned into a needy little child over the six years on television.  It’s one thing when you have a main character who is notorious for being strange, but when you let the oddities of his personality smother the tolerable parts, it becomes a bit difficult to handle.

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24 – “Day 8: 2:00 A.M. – 3:00 A.M. “

Last week was a breath of fresh air for 24 after losing its way for a little while. We were given plenty of typical 24 moments: action, twists, cliffhangers, political drama and great acting. This week’s episode picks up almost exactly where last week left off. Wait, on second thought, isn’t that every episode of 24? Jack is preparing to bring Marco’s mother into the mix in order to convince Marco to back down, Hassan is still paranoid as hell, although he has calmed down a bit, Dana and Cole are still bickering and the terrorists are in the same place that they’ve been for what feels like hours and hours.

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Boardwalk Empire – Family Limitations

In the Boardwalk Empire universe, the time has come for the characters to all take a good long look in the mirror.  From Nucky, trying to balance seeing himself as a good man and the debaucherous life he leads, to Margaret imagining herself as Cinderella transforming from commoner to princess; to more minor characters such as Agent Van Alden with his strange obsession with Margaret and Lucky Luciano, who finally realizes it’s not Jimmy’s wife who he’s been sleeping with, but his mother.  All around the show, everyone seems to be being forced to confront the lies they’ve been telling themselves so they can sleep at night.

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