Critics Feel at Home in The Office –

Here I am, hard at work at The Office. As in the set of The Office, the NBC comedy that returned for a sixth season tonight and heads into a five-nights-a-week syndication launch starting Monday.
Critics were invited to visit the set last month during the summer network press tour. We were shuttled from our hotel in Pasadena to the lamest corner of the San Fernando Valley, where The Office is shot in a warehouse so anonymous it could be Anytown, USA.
Touring this place is such a waste of time. You might as well walk around any newsroom in North America and say you were there. Computers, staplers, work stations–you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
What made the trip special (besides the chance to be photographed with my feet up on Dunder Mifflin doofus’ Michael Scott’s desk) was the warm and friendly reception we got from the large ensemble cast, crew and producers, including creator Greg Daniels.
They were all in a pretty good mood, knowing they’d made it to 100 episodes (no sure bet based on those low early ratings) and to the promised land of syndication riches. Wrote much more about The Office field trip for The Canadian Press today, you can follow the rest of the article here.
The return of The Office and the premiere of another smart Thursday night comedy, Community, comes toward the end of a pretty good week for NBC. Those Jay Leno Show numbers continue to impress, albeit against largely rerun competition. Wednesday’s 10 p.m. Leno show, featuring Robin Williams, actually was up over the night before, with 13.12 million tuning in according to overnight Nielsen estimates. (Tuesday’s final tally was 11.09 million). Leno got a boost Stateside by the finale of America’s Got Talent, which drew 15.52 million.
Leno was more relaxed with fellow comic Williams in the house. It was his best show yet.
In Canada, Leno drew 921,000 on Rogers’ Citytv stations, not bad at 10 against bigger network CTV (where a rerun of CSI: New York won the hour with an overnight estimated 1,443,000). Leno more than doubled Global’s second episode of the new Melrose Place (405,000 nationally in Canada, and bombing out in the U.S. with 1.8 million viewers Tuesday). Coming in third at 10 in Canada was The National with 592,000 viewers. Those PPM numbers don’t seem to be tilting Peter Mansbridge’s way in the early going.

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