Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
James Spader will be joining “The Office,” The Hollywood Reporter announced today.
“The Emmy-winning actor will join the half-hour comedy as CEO Robert California of Sabre, the parent company of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. Spader replaces Kathy Bates, who stars in another NBC series, ‘Harry’s Law’,” wrote Philiana Ng. (The surprise buzz last May that British actress Catherine Tate would replace Carell seems to have fizzled.)
If you saw Spader’s cameo as Robert California in last season’s finale, you know that’s good news for viewers. If NBC is indeed committed to keeping the workplace sitcom on the air forever and ever, amen, and milking it for every last dollar it can generate, then casting Spader is a fine way to reinvigorate it.
The story quotes Paul Lieberstein, an executive producer and series regular (he plays Toby): ”James will reprise his role as Robert California, this uber-salesman that has a power to convince and manipulate, like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior. He’ll have been hired over the summer as the new manager, but within hours, got himself promoted. Within days, he took over the company.”
All quite plausible within the world of “The Office.” The beautiful thing about that “interview” scene in the finale [portions of which are embedded below] was how it offered an electrifying alternative to the type of boss represented by Michael Scott (Steve Carell) and almost everyone angling to replace him. California wasn’t a fatuous twit like Michael. He was more like a decadent prince forced to live among the rabble. The office workers had to be on their toes, alert at every second and scrutinizing everything the man across from them was saying, because they could sense that he was brilliant and manipulative — possibly so brilliant that they couldn’t tell precisely how he was manipulating them.
The interview also showed us a different side of Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), who had spent virtually the entire run of the program being a smug, smirking witness to Michael’s stupidity and randomness, and carrying himself with an air of moral and intellectual superiority that would have been insufferable if Krasinski weren’t such a likable actor. Jim can’t mess with Robert California’s head the way he could with Michael’s, or Dwight’s. Here he looked as overmatched as a dog trying to outsmart a human.
The Hollywood Reporter story doesn’t say how much screen time Spader will get — presumably more than Bates got, given the Big Deal nature of this announcement, but less than if he were filling Michael’s slot as office manager, actually sharing space with the regulars.
I’m a bit bummed that we’re not going to see the latter scenario. I loved imagining Robert California trapped in that tedious office day in and day out, being bored out of his skull and devising new ways to torture his underlings, who would do their best to fight back and outsmart him, perhaps discovering qualities they didn’t know they had in the process. But maybe we’ll see a bit of that anyway. And at the very least, Spader’s character will demand more of Jim, who’s looking more and more like the likely heir to Michael’s job — a “temporary” replacement who’s anything but.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.