Picks and Pans Review: The Office
CBS (Saturdays, 9 p.m. ET)
Valerie Harper (Rhoda) returns to the sitcom universe as the lifeguard in the secretarial pool. Harper is the peacemaker between the ladies who type (Debra Jo Rupp, Andrea Abbate and Kristin (Datillo-Hayward) and the executive ranks (Dakin Matthews, Kevin Conroy and Lisa Darr).
The cast is quite good. (Rupp, in particular, is impressive as a harried working mom.) But seeing them negotiate this dull, overdone material is like watching a skilled jeweler work with loofah mitts. When all else fails (and it often does), the scripts resort to crudeness. For example, one episode is built around Rupp's describing, in breathless romance-novel style, her lunchtime assignation with her hard-hat husband. Seems they made love in a drafty shack on a construction site. Getting the picture? This false farce is a flat takeoff of that Lucky Vanous Diet Coke commercial. If only it had Lucky. Now, there's a guy who has manufactured an entire career out of simply being buff.
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