Tuned In: 'Office' promotion follows the Super Bowl
Steve Carell as Michael Scott in "The Office."
Jason Mesnick, expecting a stage kiss, got a little bit more from Sewickley's Megan Parris on "The Bachelor."
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The first thing fans of NBC's "The Office" need to know: WPXI will carry the one-hour post-Super Bowl episode.
The second thing fans of NBC's "The Office" need to know: The episode will air at approximately 10:30 p.m. nationwide, but in Pittsburgh, Channel 11 will delay "The Office" until midnight in favor of Steelers coverage.
The episode begins with Dwight (Rainn Wilson) setting fire to the office after co-workers ignore his fire safety seminar. The results are laugh-out-loud funny, especially a gag with Angela (Angela Kinsey) and her cat.
After the melee, Dwight must make amends, and boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) seeks to reduce office stress by forcing the staff to roast him.
"I consider myself a good person," says Dunder-Mifflin accountant Oscar (Oscar Nunez). "But I'm gonna try to make him cry."
Additional plots include the faltering marriage of Pam's (Jenna Fischer) parents and Andy (Ed Helms) watching a pirated movie that stars Jack Black, Jessica Alba and Cloris Leachman in a love triangle.
The episode hangs together pretty well, which hasn't always been the case for hour-long "Office" episodes. Earlier this month at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Universal City, Calif., "Office" executive producer Greg Daniels said initial attempts to give closure midway through hour-long episodes -- for when they rerun as half-hours -- did the show a disservice.
"When they ran as an hour it had a weird dead spot in the middle," Daniels said of early season four hour-long episodes. Producers decided to scrap any notion of closure this season and just throw up a "To Be Continued" tag when the episodes air as half-hour reruns.
Daniels said NBC's decision to put an "Office" episode after the Super Bowl came around the time of the Olympics, when "Office" shorts aired and received a positive response.
"We thought if we stuck with the big physical comedy and easily accessible set pieces, we felt pretty good about being funny," Daniels said. "I looked at all the shows that followed the Super Bowl in years past and I feel that a comedy would be a good choice in the current climate. People want to laugh so we're trying our best to supply some laughs."
Paul Lieberstein, who plays sad-sack HR guy Toby, wrote the episode with a mandate to avoid plots that would be dependent on any of the show's continuing stories.
"Clearly we're not doing the Jim-Pam wedding," he said. "We're trying to find the bigness from other places.
"It almost had an air of a pilot in a way, where we had to reintroduce everything. We wanted it to be extremely funny and extremely funny up front."
There's no question "The Office" succeeds in putting its most uproarious foot forward Sunday night. As for future plots, Lieberstein said a Jim-Pam wedding will happen -- "at some point, they're engaged" -- but probably not this season.
"I don't think so, but it's not decided," he said.
At least local viewers will get to see "The Office," even though it will be delayed. That won't be the case for fans of "Meet the Press," which WPXI is blowing out altogether.
"Unfortunately, due to the plethora of Super Bowl coverage that day, 'Meet the Press' will not be seen," wrote WPXI program director Mark Barash in an e-mail.
Digital cable subscribers can see "Meet the Press" at 5 p.m. Sunday on MSNBC.
If the Steelers win, WTAE plans to pre-empt a 10 p.m. episode of "Wipeout" for coverage. "Wipeout" will air at approximately midnight.
KDKA is scheduled to air a "Mentalist" rerun at 10 p.m. Sunday. News director John Verrilli said station plans to break into regular programming have not been finalized.
If you don't want to watch Bruce Springsteen during the Super Bowl half-time show, ABC will offer "WipeOut Bowl I: Cheerleaders vs. Couch Potatoes," a special episode of the summer reality competition, as soon as half-time begins (WTAE won't pre-empt this short episode). Hall of Famer Michael Irvin will join sideline reporter Jill Wagner.
Sewickley's Megan Parris did not get a rose and departed ABC's "The Bachelor" Monday. She came off as cool and calculating in early episodes but Parris showed a more vulnerable side when she got to kiss Jason Mesnick, even if Entertainment Weekly described the smooch -- while filming a fake "General Hospital" scene -- this way: "She all but unhinges her jaw and devours the Bachelor's face, much like Diana the lizard queen from 'V.' "
Speaking of "V," ABC has given a green light to the pilot for a revamped version of the 1980s sci-fi drama. ... E! will move first-run telecasts of late-night talk show "Chelsea Lately" to 11 p.m. weeknights beginning Feb. 16. ... Comcast now offers 20 hours of Disney Family Movies per month as part of a $5.99/monthly subscription video on demand package. ... Max and Will Graf, the Ben Avon dwarf brothers whose first year of middle school was chronicled in the Post-Gazette by staff writer Gretchen McKay, will be featured in a report on ABC's "20/20" (10 tonight, WTAE). ... PBS's "Frontline: My Father, My Brother and Me" (9 p.m. Tuesday, WQED), a personal journey to understand Parkinson's disease, will feature two doctors from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine: Michael Zigmond, professor of neurology, psychiatry and neurobiology, and Judy Cameron, professor of psychiatry.
Today's TV Q&A responds to questions about "CSI," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and KDKA reporters standing in the cold outside their office. Read it at post-gazette.com/tv.
This week's Tuned In Podcast includes chatter about "The SAG Awards," "Lost" and "The United States of Tara." Listen or subscribe at post-gazette.com/podcast.
Tuned In Journal includes reviews of Monday's return of "Chuck" and "Heroes," an interview with the Coraopolis native who hosts Spike TV's "Toughest Cowboy" and an apology from actor John Corbett. Read it at post-gazette.com/tv.
First Published January 30, 2009 12:00 am