"Yes, 'The Office' is still worth watching."
I was surprised to find that I had to say this out loud twice in the last week to folks who had taken stock of the NBC comedy's first three episodes this season and decided they had seen all they need to see.
Before its first full season without Steve Carell began, I was prepared for people to be disappointed in "The Office." But to me, all three episodes have been solid, with enough of the priceless moments that are ultimately the keys to keeping a show indispensable.
The season premiere featured a clever, resonating monologue from James Spader as newcomer Robert California about controlling your own destiny. Episode two showcased new office manager Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) wrestling with his own insecurities about the job, while last week's offering had a similar crisis of confidence for Darryl (Craig Robinson).
That kind of depth, of interest in character, will always keep me involved.
So while the best episodes might be in the past and while might be more false notes in the present, such as last week's B-plot in the warehouse, the Paul Lieberstein-led writing team has more than proven to me that they can still guide "The Office" toward something worthwhile. At this moment, I'm eager, not ambivalent, to see what comes next.