Spader or No Spader?

(Programming note: There’s a good chance this is my last blog until July 18 or 19, I’m on vacation next week. If I get the chance, I may blog Thursday morning about the Emmy nominees, but can’t guarantee it. Have a good week everyone!)

Right now all we can do is blindly speculate as to whether James Spader is the right choice to replace Steve Carell on The Office. We don’t know if he’s going to be as big a presence as Carell was, whether he’ll be in every episode, or whether they’re going to just leave Sabre Scranton without a full-time manager.

All anyone is doing right now is random, borderline-irresponsible speculating.

he should have a "stupid look-off" with jim

he should have a "stupid look-off" with jim

I think my ears were just ringing! Since I actually couldn’t decide whether I liked the choice or not, I decided to make out a good/bad list to try and break it down:

BAD: James Spader’s career has been checkered, at best. He’s made three movies I’ve actually seen in theaters — Mannequin, Stargate and 2 Days in the Valley — and I’ve regretted paying money for all three. I count 32 theatrical movies on his IMDB resume — and I’ve heard of exactly half of them. Everything else was either direct-to-DVD or way, way, way down at the bottom of the barrel.

GOOD: That doesn’t mean he hasn’t made good movies. sex lies and videotape is largely responsible for the rise of independent movies, whether or not he just played the James Spader character he cultivated in the 80s (he did). He’s shown the ability to play different, dangerous, potential career-ending roles in movies like Secretary, White Palace and Crash. So he’s versatile, something that’s needed as slapstick comedy quickly and easily turns to melodrama around Sabre Scranton.

BAD: When The Office starts in September, it will have been more than three years since his last job. Wouldn’t you want someone in-demand to a high-profile gig like this?

GOOD: James Spader has done his best work on TV, winning three Emmys for playing lawyer Alan Shore first on The Practice, then on Boston Legal. The only comedy work of note he’s ever done that’s actually been funny was as Stanky Hanky on Seinfeld. TV obviously fits him better.


BAD: James Spader had to be ranked, at best, the 27th choice of producers to replace Steve Carell. For whatever reason, there must have been a line around the studio of people just waiting for the opportunity to turn down the role. Worse, if you lined up the seven stars that showed up to interview for Michael Scott’s job in the season finale, Spader would have ranked eighth in the, “Which One of These People Do You Want To See Replace Steve Carell?” list. So he ranked eighth out of seven, and one of the people that ranked ahead of him was Warren Buffett.

GOOD: After the episode, Spader went to the top of the list. He was by far the funniest of a bunch that included Jim Carrey, Ray Romano and Will Arnett. It was a walk-off grand slam.


BAD: Despite this killer comedic performance, it’s been almost two months since the finale aired and the producers still were going after bigger names like James Gandolfini until they announced Spader earlier this week. Steve Carell announced 16 months ago he was leaving The Office, and in that 16 months, the best replacement you could come up with is Spader? That’s not acceptable. Settle much?

GOOD: This a show that, if you’re a fan, deserves your patience. It’s given you seven years of (mostly) consistent laughs with one of the best writing staffs of any show. They deserve the chance the show you they made the right choice. And that’s probably what it comes down to. We need to wait until at least October before we can start changing the channel.


We’ll have to wait until Sept. 22 for our first look at the new version of The Office, so say the NBC puh-bahs. I’d love to know how depressed the NBC people got when they announced this lineup. Or when they looked over it again to announce the premiere dates, and reminded themselves that there is only a 50-50 chance there will be football. I picture five people standing in a room, one of whom is the president of company, another is the guy who just hung up the chart of when and where everything is going to premiere. That guy hung up the grid, kept nodding and smiling and said, “Yeah, yeah, I think this is gonna work!” Then there was dead silence in the room as he kept nodding and smiling until the president of the company calmly said, “You’re fired” and walked out of the room. The CW’s new lineup is vastly more exciting, and NBC only wishes I was kidding.

For those you that think V stunk (I did) and are frustrated that humans always win in the aliens vs. humans genre of movies (I do), then there’s good news — the new TNT alien invasion show Falling Skies will be back for season 2. TNT took a chance with this instead of just mining a fourth or fifth spin-off to The Closer, so I’m all for a second season if I think the show is only so-so.

holy crap.

holy crap.

The Comic-Con lineup is starting to trickle out, though none of it so far seems terribly, major-league interesting. We’re still sticking with no Avengers panel, which kinda sucks. The Thursday TV panel is better than the movie panel, where NBC plans to debut the pilot of Awake, even though it isn’t sure when or where it will air for the rest of us. The only place I’d like be to ask a question is the Fall of Sam Axe panel so I can query as to why it sucked so much. On the other hand, sitting in on the panels for Beavis and Butthead, Napoleon Dynamite and Wilfred sounds like fun. Still loving Wilfred, the way. I’ve decided I’m going to have to start calling Ethan Suplee “Half of Ethan Suplee.” Good for him for losing about 200 pounds.

Thank God I’m not the only one that noticed every movie trailer seems to be using Inception’s music lately. It’s not important enough for me to worry about too much, it’s more like, “Holy poop, this Tron Legacy trailer (starting at the 0:34 mark) is, like, the third movie in the last four months to steal that music!” but then I start thinking about how clueless Ryan Howard looks against any lefty reliever that breathes properly and I completely forget. I’m glad someone brought it up, because it is reaching epidemic standards. Seriously, watch all those trailers. How is Christopher Nolan letting this continue? Is every lawyer in LA concentrating on signing Charlie Sheen and Tracy Morgan instead of noticing this?

Spike Lee taking over the Oldboy remakehmmmmm … thinking, thinking, thinking … OK, I like it. I think Lee taking it on guarantees it won’t be a word-for-word remake, which is probably a good thing. I talked about this a couple years back when Steven Spielberg was supposed to do it, but the movie just isn’t going to have the same kick in America. There’s no way they can keep the ending intact (won’t spoil it for the many that haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth watching) for American audiences without getting an NC-17 rating, and they don’t want an NC-17 rating. But changing the ending changes the entire movie, and I’m not sure I want any part of it then.

Let’s see if we can nudge the Pocono Community Theater in the direction of hooking us up with Beats Rhymes & Life, the documentary chronicling the often tumultuous history of one of my favorite bands of all time, Tribe Called Quest. Low End Theory will always rank in my top 5 albums of all time.

Disappointing. How do you make a list about harmless songs that became infamous songs because of movies and not include Stuck in the Middle? Nice going. You just made Mr. Blonde’s list of things to do today.

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