Apr 28, 2011

Out of Office

steve_carrell_the_office Unless you failed to pay your cable bill for the last nine months, you know that Steve Carell is leaving the hit NBC show, The Office, to focus on his film career. Tonight is Michael Scott's final episode. We’ll have to wait till next season to see who his permanent replacement will be and if the show can maintain its quality without him, but tonight’s expanded 50-minute episode is about him.

The episode will certainly have laughs and tears. There will be the requisite one-on-one scenes with each of the other characters where they settle their differences and celebrate their time together (except with Toby).

And thus, I find myself wondering what his last line on the show will be. I think it is obvious. I think there is only one way he could wrap it all up. So here’s how I would script it:

The last day has passed, the last commercial break is done. During the day, Michael has questioned whether he’s making the right decision. Holly is there, knowing this will be a tough day for him and wanting to offer support.  Holly and Michael come out of his office. She’s carrying a box with all of his memorabilia—koosh ball, coffee mug, trophy, certificates, desk phone, office supplies. He has his overcoat on his arm. He takes one last long look around the office, soaking it all in. He’s already said his good-byes, he just wants to rip the band-aid off and get this part over quickly.

As they step towards the door, Jim stands and begins slow clapping, followed by Pam, then Andy, then the rest of the office staff. Michael, eyes filled with tears, stands there and absorbs it, beaming. He opens the door, holds it open for Holly. He looks into her eyes and knows he’s doing the right thing.

Looking back to the staff, he says, “Good-bye everybody.” The clapping stops. Unable to control it, Pam says, “We love you, Michael.” He looks at them all, then back at Holly, then back at them. He cocks his head towards Holly and says, one last time…

“That’s what SHE said!”

They kiss, turn and leave, the door closes behind them.

Silence. The phones start ringing. The staff slowly move back to their desks and go back to work. And… SCENE!

Anyway, that’s how I’d do it.  Tune in tonight to see how close I got.

The Office on NBC at 9/8C.

More to Come.

Apr 23, 2011

Funny Talk on HBO

HBO: Talking Funny: Homepage
If you like stand-up comedy, try to catch Talking Funny on HBO. It's an hour of four comedic geniuses—Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK and Ricky Gervais—discussing the art and business of being funny. It is an insightful and hilarious hour ranging from why Seinfeld doesn't curse in his act to how often they change out their material to encore theory.
The four know and respect each other's bits, which makes for a lesson in comedy styles. It also makes for some gut busting laughs. Talking Funny was produced and semi-facilitated by Gervais. I'm hoping it will be a regular series with other comics of this caliber.
Talking Funny on HBO, HBO On Demand and HBO GO.
More to Come.

Apr 10, 2011

AMC is Killing It!

The-Killing-300x225 While I think they may still show old movies, AMC is becoming the premium outlet for original hour-long dramas. Breaking Bad and Mad Men set a standard of excellence which Walking Dead maintained. But AMC may have hit a new high with The Killing, Sundays at 10PM/9C.  Based upon a Danish series (part of the new Nordic Noir era), The Killing will spend 13 episodes focused on the investigation of a single murder (that’s not a spoiler if you’ve read the title of the show).  For those who arethe-killing-tv-show-image-06-600x422 used to the weekly procedurals where the crime is solved in the last act (unless it is a Sweeps Week two-parter or a season-ending cliff hanger), this may be tedious. But those who were fans of the classic 1995 series, Murder One, or  even a show like Lost (although this has no super-natural elements) with its long form story telling, will find The Killing highly engaging.  As I said, if you remember Murder One, you’ll get that vibe from The Killing.  Fargo and Agatha Christie fans, you betcha this is your cup of tea.  And if you were a fan of the first season of Twin Peaks (because, frankly, after that, it sucked), you’ll find a lot that here too, sans the dwarf, log lady and damn fine cup of coffee.

Set in Seattle, filmed in Vancouver, The Killing follows Det. Sarah Linden,Det. Linden played by Mireille Enos (Big Love), a highly capable investigator scheduled to retire so she can move to Sonoma with her son and fiancĂ©. On her last day, she is partnered with her replacement, Det. Stephen Holder, portrayed by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman, a much rougher The Killing (Season 1)detective used to being undercover and the techniques that go with that life. The two are sent to investigate a missing teenage girl, Rosie Larsen.  The investigation quickly leads them to contact the girl’s parents, Stanley and Mitch. (No, they are not a gay couple, Mitch is short for something female; not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Stanley and Mitch are superblythe-killing-the-cage_article_story_main acted by veteran character actor Brent Sexton (Justified, Life, Deadwood) and by sci-fi fan-boy favorite Michele Forbes (Star Trek:TNG, True Blood, 24). In the first hour alone, these two actors deliver an upper-division acting class, exhibiting a range from playfully lustful to concerned to worried to terrified to hysterical and heartbroken.

The leads are equally good. Det. Linden is trying to release herself from all of this to go start a new life, but you can see her curiosity taking hold, a perfect The Killing (Season 1)slow boil as certain clues fall into place, and as she becomes increasingly worried that Det. Holder won’t be up to the challenge of solving this case.  A political wrinkle is introduced with the character of Councilman Darren Richmond, a candidate for mayor, whose campaign is accidently linked to the murder. Richmond is played by Billy Campbell. It’s hard to know if he’s a sincere do-gooder or a more stereotypical sleazy politician (like his staffers). I have to wonder if I’m feeling this subtext due to his previous roles in Enough and The 4400.

So far, just two episodes in, The Killing plays like a great detective novel, with rich characters, great locations and realistic dialogue. Easily eight characters have been introduced who could be the culprit; many clues and twists are surely headed our way. The first two hours can be viewed on AMC here, the third is on now, with several repeats throughout the week.  My DVR has a series recording set, but this is the kind of show that I’ll give a 30 minute head-start (so I can skip the commercials), then watch on Sundays, because I will want to know as soon as I can what new clues have been found.

This is appointment TV at its best.

The Killing, AMC (DirecTV Channel 254), Sundays at 10PM/9C

More to Come.