Friday, April 29, 2011

I love television: Thank you for Steve Carell's Michael Scott

The Office: Season OneFor my money, there have been four perfect (fully developed, consistently executed) sitcom characters.

The first one was very nearly Ron Howard's Opie Taylor. And then the first one was very nearly Dick Van Dyke's Rob Petrie. But then the first one really was Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards. And then came Bill Cosby's Cliff Huxtable, and then Jason Bateman's Michael Bluth.

Now, there are other characters who felt to me fully developed within a window of their sitcom's duration (Andy Griffith's Andy Taylor, Jean Stapleton's Edith Bunker, John Amos's James Evans, Roseanne Barr's Roseanne Connor and John Goodman's Dan Connor), and there are a slew of good characters who were consistently executed but not fully developed because their sitcoms didn't intend for them to be (for example, Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Elaine Benes). And I should point out that Helen Hunt's and/or Paul Reiser's characters might well belong on my list but that I haven't seen enough of Mad About You to say. And I must give a shoutout to Lauren Graham's perfect Lorelei Gilmore, while noting that Gilmore Girls was not a sitcom.

In the cases of Mary Richards, Cliff Huxtable and Michael Bluth, however, each character feels to me a complete, full-blown human being from the sitcom's first episode to its last. And it's interesting to note that, in all three of these cases, we're talking about shows that were manufactured by dream teams of folks who were old hands in the sitcom's bizarre, two-acts-and-tails structure and actors with rich histories (Mary Tyler Moore had played next to fantastic Rob Petrie; Bill Cosby had previously had a sitcom and crafted one of the all-time great standup shows, and Jason Bateman has a sister who was pretty darned good in pretty darned good Family Ties, and he might've benefitted from Ron Howard's involvement with Arrested Development).

But the point of all this is to get to a thank you for No. 4, who, as of this morning I am sad to announce in past tense, was Steve Carell's Michael Scott. He frequently made me laugh. He often made me cry. He always made me want to watch (even sometimes to hit "replay" on my screen). I more enjoy my life for Steve Carell's Michael Scott having been in it, and, for that, I am genuinely grateful to everyone involved. Thank you, Television, for Steve Carell's Michael Scott.


  1. Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of "The Office" are, in my opinion, the only sitcom DVD's worth buying since Seinfeld went off the air.

  2. Oh, wow! The picture makes me feel fancy. Thank you, secret picture implanter!