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iPod Powering The Office?

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NBC claims that the American version of The Office, starring Steve Carell and a stellar supporting cast, is being fueled to its highest ever ratings on the strength of iPod-version video downloads of the show, according to TVWeek.com.

I understand that The Office is the most popular NBC video product on iTunes. And I viscerally feel all the requisite buzz of a hot techie buzz toy syncing up synaptic-like with an ancient school entertainment product like a television show. I get all of that.

But can’t a television sitcom be given credit for achieving what is truly the rarest of feats? That is:

The Office is an often brilliant blend of slapstick humor and sublime romantic comedy, a mockumentary cocktail that is nearly compulsive watching. That it manages to consistently maintain these heights week after week (now mid-way through its second season) on a broadcast network and as a spin-off of one of the most unique and hideously awkwardly side-splittingly funny yet short-lived series of all-time is even more stunning.

So yes, it’s nice that people like to first purchase and then download The Office to their video iPods. And yes, I’m jealous of all of y’all who own a video iPod, because I want one.

One would have to assume that NBC Universal executives are salivating over not just an increasingly popular and critically acclaimed sitcom, but an increasingly popular and critically acclaimed sitcom that iPod owners are willing to shell out cash to watch.

Here’s a list of things that I hope the NBC Universal execs remember, when they’re done salivating and dancing around the stone circle and beating the animal skin tom toms and chanting in exquisitely alien voices (huffing and grating and chortling and howling) into the darkest reaches of the television skied night and all of that:

* I hope they won’t ignore the fact that they did something right in moving The Office from Tuesday nights, a good night to watch television, to Thursday nights, the best night to watch TV.

* I also hope they reflect upon the notion that keeping the one-two punch of My Name Is Earl, nearly equal to The Office in comedic strength, together with The Office in the move to Thursdays creates an hour-long reason to get in front of that box that glows once a week. That is, if you don’t have one of those fiddly-diddly handheld contraptions that one can presumably enjoy whilst riding on the heated passenger seat of a top-of-the-line sport utility vehicle. Some of us will be watching TV the old fashioned way, in front of the tube with a warm can of Diet Shasta, thanks. Or taping it via DVR and watching later. But you know, either way.

* Finally, NBC Universal execs need to tattoo the following message upon their blackest stone cold hearts:

Never become Fox, who, by signaling the end to Arrested Development (after heart-knifing such golden glorious offerings from the TV Lords as Firefly, Wonderfalls, and The Inside) can only be relegated to a hell dimension conjured by a troubled firth-grader during a class session titled “Why is the Constitution meaningful to me?”

So, to sum up:

We hate people who own video iPods. The Office is glorious no matter what medium you choose to enjoy it in (and in whose sordid company). Television executives, while not really possessing stone cold death-hearts, are maddeningly forgetful. But we are mad persistent (and Noble) so we endeavor to remind with patience.

And drive less SUVs and hug trees more.

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  • -E

    I personally can’t watch any American version of a BBC show. They killed Coupling, and The Office isn’t nearly as good either. Granted, I am obviously wired strangely since Carell got a Golden Globe for it.

    I am just curious how the networks choose which shows they make available to iTunes. I’d definately buy every single one of Grey’s Anatomy, if it were available. Sigh.

  • I was sceptical at first as well, but I was impressed right away with the pilot and its gotten better and better from there. It’s really become one of my favorite shows on television, with the comedy competing with the dramatic underpinnings at a level not seen since Friends’ Ross/Rachel hoopla days.

  • -E

    Yeah, see, I never really got into Friends either. Sure, I’ll watch a rerun here or there, but I rarely laugh out loud.

  • The Office is a much funnier show than Friends (a very strong character/plot-based sitcom with some laughs) for sure.

  • The popularity of the portability afforded by the use of the iPod video is quite interesting. I suppose people prefer the increased flexibility they now have, not subject to the rigid schedule of network TV, or the place where they watch.

  • Egg Fou

    Keep in mind that you don’t have to own a video ipod to download and watch the show on iTunes. I have downloaded and watched several episodes of The Office this way, as well as other shows. I don’t own a video iPod, but I can still download and enjoy the shows on my computer whenever I want. This is great for me, since I don’t have cable and my TV reception is poor at best. Apple has sold 8 million videos and I bet many people are watching those videos on their computer. Before anyone moans about how they don’t want to watch TV on their computer, go get a nice, large LCD monitor and a comfortable office chair. Now, I just wish they would put “My Name is Earl” on iTunes.

  • Max

    Amen. An opinion well-formulated and flawlessly expressed. As an avid fan of The Office since the pilot aired, I agree whole-heartedly.

  • -E

    I still find it interesting which shows the networks put on iTunes. Like Desperate Housewives is on there, but the show that airs next (Grey’s Anatomy) isn’t. ABC also has Lost, which has been a huge hit on TV, and then new show Commander in Chief. So it isn’t just shows that were struggling with ratings or ones with huge ratings on there. It’s an odd mix. Or how about NBC having Law & Order on there but not Law & Order SVU. And how on earth do they choose which vintage shows to stick on iTunes?

  • I’d totally have to agree with this idea.

    Before seeing the show through iTunes, I was expecting it to be a crappy show. However, one of my friends talked me into buying an episode.

    Wow. Now I own all of them. I could totally see this happening on a large scale.

  • lvis

    The reason I got hooked to bbc’s The Office was strangely because of the Tim/Dawn plotline. I believe Ricky Gervais wanted to cast very “real” characters for the show (no aggresively handsome or sexy actors). It seems like NBC tried the same approach, and it worked.

    Im hooked now because because these guys are strangely personal, and I can relate. Great Show, and I hope they keep that same energy for a while, and not discard anybody they because of money issues. That’s how alot of good shows end up going bad.

  • dean ween

    well the evidence is surmountable!

  • I stand by what I said above (though I admit that it was said with a snarky/stylistic bent) but all the same it’s very very obvious that video technology for handheld products is — while only in its infancy — a very popular option for many reasons.

  • Johann MacDonagh

    Another, slighly more possible, explanation is NBC’s decision to move The Office to Thursday, their biggest night. Hell, I don’t care. As long as the ratings stay up, they keep on making the show.

  • Bryan Nieman

    I agree with you whole heartedly about Fox. Save Arrested Development!!! The best show on TV aside from the Office.

  • Just realized, Bryan, while on Subject2Discussion tonight, that AD and The Office are my two favorite comedies on television right now.

  • iPod really made a revolution…