One of the most difficult decisions to make as a TV viewer is knowing when to say farewell to a series you have been faithful to over the years. I’ve already said my goodbyes to 30 Rock, and I’m very close to pulling the plug on The Office and Two and a Half Men.
Severing ties with a sitcom or drama you were at one time very attached to is never easy, and it’s something I don’t take lightly. In fact, to a fault, I probably stick around much longer than I probably should. I try to convince myself that the characters will become funnier, the scripts will get better and that the endless cameos will somehow breathe new life into my once-favorite programs.
30 Rock is a perfect example, because I was a huge fan when it first launched in 2006. The characters were unique, the writing was witty and irreverent, and it gave a great platform to Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin to showcase their dry wit. Somewhere along the line, though, I just stopped laughing. Fey and Baldwin were still top drawer, but the supporting cast I once loved started to drag the show down.
I fully admit that I have never gotten the Tracy Morgan thing, even dating back to his days at Saturday Night Live; but I do have to say I did initially find him kinda humorous in his role as Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock. Now I simply find him to be annoying. Same thing with the characters played by Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer. They were original and refreshing when the series started, but I just got to the point where I cringed whenever they appeared onscreen.
I finally pulled the plug at the beginning of this season, and I have no problem admitting that I feel no void in my life whatsoever as a result of doing so. The next step on my TV-watching agenda is to do the same with The Office and Two and a Half Men. I just have to figure out whether to wean myself slowly or to yank the Band-Aid off quickly.
Some might argue that both shows have declined due to the loss of their primary stars, but I think that’s a complete cop-out. The Office was already losing its luster even when it had Steve Carell, and Two and a Half Men was becoming way too predictable and stale with Charlie Sheen. My hope with their departures was that the writers would use it as an opportunity to simultaneously reinvigorate their shows and fan bases.
Regretfully, that hasn’t happened. I am probably in the minority in saying that I like Ashton Kutcher a little more than Sheen, but something hasn’t clicked with costar Jon Cryer. In an attempt to build up the likability of Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt, they have completely made an even bigger buffoon of Cryer’s Alan Harper. Viewers like me who would like to see Alan catch a break are out of luck with tonight’s episode as he experiences a heart attack (Kathy Bates guest-stars as the ghost of Sheen’s character Charlie).
The Office, meanwhile, suffers from way too many cooks in the kitchen and no master chef. I was thrilled when I heard James Spader was joining the cast, and he has been brilliant thus far. Sadly, he has not been used as any more than a bit player like the rest of the supporting cast. And what this has left us with is a hodge-podge of characters and a show with no direction at all (the addition of British actor Catherine Tate has derailed it even more).
I know it’s only a matter of time before I stop watching The Office and Two and a Half Men, just like I did with 30 Rock. It’s never easy to walk away from shows you at one time considered amongst your favorites. To quote the famous line from the movie Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
© 2012 Warner Bros. Television. Credit: Darren Michaels