My partner J.C. has been pretty good this past year at tracking the mighty cast of The Wire plunging headfirst into the tepid waters of network television – first, we lose Daniels to Lost, then Marlo to Heroes, and then the brightest star of them all, Michael, to a fucking 90210 rehash. But you can’t blame the actors, really, so much as the casting directors, or writers, or head writers, or whoever decided to squander the talent and rich intertext of The Wire and its players.
So, anyone who caught last night’s Office got to see the latest installment in The Wire meets network television, when one of the most sacred characters in Simonian pantheon made the trek from Bodymore to Scranton, and transformed from Adam-Smith-reading, corporate hard ass pusherman, Stringer Bell, to Adam-Smith-reading, corporate hard ass, paper pusher, Charles Minor. The results? Probably the most unsettling Office this season. Stringer spends his first day trimming the fat at Dunder Mifflin, denying Michael his fifteen-years-at-DM party, dissolving the PPC (Party Planning Committee) and quietly conveying his disdain for his new colleagues, enough so that an unhinged Michael turns in his resignation at headquarters in New York. Experts agree, it wasn’t all that funny. (And here, I’m not sure I ever figured out how much of Michael’s weekly breakdowns were meant for quick laughs or to get at some broader corporate pathos). Still, there is something satisfying about watching just how quickly the white-collared whiteys on NBC buckle under the cold, managerial presence of Charles “Stringer” Minor, and it’s hard for any fan of The Wire not to project that show’s themes onto the jokey capitalism of The Office. The VP of Dunder-Mifflin and the VP of the Barksdale organization: how far apart are they, really?
You know they got the same schooling.