Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How Office-like Is The Newsroom?

I've been enjoying this season of The Newsroom through my pirated HBO GO account, but I can't get past the show's obsession with casting characters that have already been typecast as other characters.

First off, in my mind, main character Will McAvoy will forever be Dumb and Dumber's Harry Dunne. I just can't look at Jeff Daniels* in any other way.

*My Dumb and Dumber To review is still forthcoming.

And in the past few weeks, The Newsroom has adopted a pair of characters from my favorite TV show ever. In Episode 2 of this season, the audience heard a whiny EPA administrator aboard an Amtrak. When the camera finally showed his face, it was Toby!

I don't mean that it was the actor who played Toby Flenderson in The Office. I mean that it was Toby. Not just that distinctly-pitched voice. He also had Toby's boring job ('EPA administrator' and 'head of HR' are pretty much a toss-up), monotone cadence, and generally miserable existence.

Then, in Episode 3, Toby reached a new nadir of Toby-ness. He appeared on News Night with Will McAvoy* and was more pessimistic than Eeyore. Toby declared that, in a best-case scenario, the world would soon experience an environmentally-driven apocalypse resulting in hunger, war, and utter chaos. He compared the state of the environment to both a burned-down house and a person who's died of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

*The show-within-a-show on The Newsroom.

"Let's see if we can't find a better spin," Will responded to Toby's doomsaying. "People are starting their weekends."

At which point Toby continued to be a fucking Toby. 

"If we face this problem head-on, if we listen to our best scientists and act decisively and passionately... I still don't see any way we can survive." 

Will cut Toby off and abruptly ended that rousing interview. I'm pretty sure Toby's nemesis Michael Scott would have ended it like this:

Later in the same episode that Toby tried to make all humans commit simultaneous suicide, look who showed up:

While Toby had just reached a new low of depressing Toby-ness, Ryan seems to have fulfilled all the dreams of Ryan the Temp. He's filthy rich, a complete asshole, and a huge weirdo.

At the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Ryan made way too big of a deal about the bar's lack of Schweppes Bitter Lemon. Pretty Ryan of him. As he waited by the bar, I kept expecting his hobbit buddy Troy to show up so they could blow a few lines and fist-pump together on the dance floor.

You know about our affinity for The Office around here, but seeing Toby and Ryan on The Newsroom was still a bit much. What's next? Pam as a new News Night intern? They already have Jim Harper, so Jim Halpert would probably come off as redundant. Maybe we'll see Creed as Charlie Skinner's new drinking buddy. Regardless of which Office characters The Newsroom decides to poach next, nothing will be as depressing as Toby's two-episode cameo.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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