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updated 05/02/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Goodbye to STEVE CARELL

He exits NBC's The Office April 28 in a special 50-minute farewell

COMEDY

I was afraid The Office would be a disaster when it premiered in 2005. What American could match Ricky Gervais' brilliant performance in the British original? And yet Steve Carell, as paper-company manager Michael Scott, created a different kind of jerk from Gervais' wormy David Brent. Carell's joke-addicted man-child kept getting tripped up by his own thoughtlessness-he started a college fund for local students without putting money in it-but there was a basic, blinking innocence. He looked like a penguin hoping to be invited to a black-tie event. What was appealing was the sense he might even grow up (a little). And he did, falling for his equal in twerpdom, colleague Holly (Amy Ryan). Michael Scott, redeemed by love. Who'd have imagined it?

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COMEDY

This sitcom has the high-tech antics of Chuck and the misfit camaraderie of Community-not bad, but no breakthrough. Reaper's Bret Harrison is the newbie hacker at a firm that specializes in testing clients' elaborate security systems. He's a good comic actor, suggesting both gray matter and naive stupidity. Christian Slater, as his boss, is the problem: You can imagine the guy played as a sleaze, an eccentric or a terror. But a benign Ari Gold just doesn't work.

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