Friday, October 10, 2008

Ugly Betty/The Office - Crimes of Fashion and Business Ethics

Last night's procedural-inspired episode of Ugly Betty was about as exciting as watching a rerun of Law and Order--for the third time.

Not sure exactly what's falling so flat--the move to NYC (for the show AND for the character of Betty), the subtle switch to a more natural look for the show (From make-up to scene transitions--there's been a bit of a "toning down." Anyone else noticed it?) or has our favorite fish out of water doing so swimmingly that we've nothing left to root for?

Let's just call it a bit of a slump for now. The episode was largely forgettable except for a few saving graces:

1. The exquisite scene transition using the telenovela to segue from Hilda and Ignacio arguing about her illicit relationship with Coach Diaz to the Mode Security Guard watching a television monitor. Very slick.

2. The Wilhel-mannequin. Amanda gasps in horror thinking Marc has killed and stuffed Wilhemina. "But you put her in Tahari?!!!" she cries.

3. Speaking of the evil one, Vanessa Williams did a great job of letting a glimmer of humanity come through when Willie finds out from Christina that Stuart is dying. Nicely played.

4. Rebecca Romijn's maternity leave was deftly executed with Alexis (now truly "big as Texas" with the producers not even TRYING to conceal Romijn's pregnancy...) being carted off to jail for pushing Christina down a flight of stairs.

5. And the total kicker: Daniel isn't D.J.'s father--Alexis is! Whoa--now that was a serious shocker!

The Office, on the other hand, did not disappoint. Opening with Jim announcing his and Pam's engagement to mostly blasé co-workers. Until Michael arrives and Creed tells him, "The tall guy got engaged." In his joy for the couple, Michael tackles Jim with a full body bear hug.

God I love Steve Carell!

The episode revolved around the debut of Holly conducting her first office meeting: a seminar on ethics. Holly and Michael open the session singing "Let's Get Ethical" to the tune of Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical," but then Holly's presentation dwindles into the mundane.

Michael pulls her aside to give her his sage meeting strategy: "People expect a lot from theses meetings. Laughter, sudden twists, surprise endings..."

Did I mention how much I love Steve Carell?

Holly mentions "time theft" as an example of an issue in workplace ethics and Dwight loudly declares he's not one. "You are a thief of joy," Michael tells him.

But Jim has other plans. He decides to time each instance of Dwight doing anything personal on company time. Including yawning.

He taunts Dwight by talking trash to Andy about Battlestar Galactica. "It's about a guy named Dumbledore Calrissian, and he needs to return the ring back to Mordor," he blithely tells Andy as Dwight cringes--but keeps on working. Dwight even pees into a soda bottle so as to avoid taking a bathroom break.

His regular assignation with Angela, however, is not something he gives up. "Nineteen minutes and forty-eight seconds," declares Jim when Dwight returns to his desk. Later Jim confesses that his vigilance in tracking Dwight's time has left him exhausted--even though he hasn't had any time to do any of his work. "I may have to go home early," he says.

I *heart* Jim Halpert.

The main issue was Meredith's lack of ethics in sleeping with a vendor in exchange for discounted supplies and steak coupons which she revealed during the "immunity" portion of Holly's seminar. The revelation brings Holly and Michael to a confrontation as super-ethical Holly feels compelled to report the situation to corporate. Michael tells her, "I just don't want my employees thinking their jobs depend on performance."

Makes you wonder if Michael wasn't missing Toby a little bit at that point, huh?

When the issue is raised to corporate, it turns out--they don't care. Leading Michael to muse, "How do you tell someone you care about deeply, "I told you so?"

Is it any wonder that I love Steve Carell?

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