The Office The Office

Jeers to The Office for leaving a lump of coal in viewers' proverbial stockings.

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"Is everyone here kind of mean?" asked A.J. ( Rob Huebel), the boyfriend of Michael's ex Holly (

Amy Ryan), who returned to Scranton when Toby (Paul Lieberstein) was picked as a juror in the "Scranton Strangler" case. (Stop — you're sleighing us!) Good question, A.J.: In the brutally protracted hourlong episode (witlessly written by Mindy Kaling and misdirected by Rainn Wilson), everybody at Dunder Mifflin seemed to be torturing one another, whether it was Dwight traumatizing Jim (John Krasinski) with an onslaught of snowballs or Erin (Ellie Kemper) repeatedly insulting Holly's looks.Here's a better question: When did The Office become a drama? Darryl (Craig Robinson) squabbled with his ex over Christmas custody of their daughter, Michael (Steve Carell) declared "I'm dead inside" after learning Holly and A.J. were still together, and there was no shortage of characters crying or threatening suicide. Even the few lighter moments, like when Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim loved each other's presents, had no comic payoff.  The whole episode was like the solo jazz bassist Michael hired for the party: one-note.Did you think The Office's Christmas episode was as sour as a cup of rotten eggnog?

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