Happily, that little slug turned out to be a sample of Slate's customary contrarian hyperbole; the article is fair and reasonable and quite insightful. I particularly appreciated this part:
There's less promise in Ryan Howard's promotion to Dunder Mifflin's corporate office. At first glance, this seemed like a genius move. Offloading the temp-turned-MBA jackass from The Office's primary setting would free up space for underutilized secondary characters (we love you, Kevin!) while banishing the least interesting one to a supporting role. Turns out that was wishful thinking. A newly bestubbled, technobabbling Ryan is hogging screen time, and it's ruining the show.As they say over at TWoP, word. Less Ryan! More Jan!
As for Jim and Pam, I was surprised (and a little disappointed) by how quickly they blew through the are-they-dating-or-aren't-they suspense, which I thought they'd ride for at least a full episode, and by how fast the relationship was revealed to the office. It seems a little reckless to be throwing away opportunities to milk the awkwardness of intraoffice dating. But I've thought that before, and the writers have always come through, so I'm not ready to complain just yet. I will be happy when the half-hour format returns, though. The hourlong episodes were kind of exhausting, and not nearly as tight as the shorter ones. And nothing has topped the precredits sequence in the conference room where all the Dunder Mifflinites were watching the DVD screensaver. I'm afraid nothing ever will.
In related news: the New York Times reports on Scranton's embrace of the show, and the show's embrace of Scranton. And before you make your reservations at Schrute Farms, be sure to read the reviews! (Sometimes I just love people, don't you?)