How’s this for a cutting-edge satire of corporate America: The assistants on THE OFFICE (CBS, Saturdays, 9-9:30 p.m.) are smarter than the bosses! Valerie Harper stars as Rita, the senior member of a secretarial pool that includes such walking cliches as the Ditz (Kristin Dattilo-Hayward), the Bimbo (Andrea Abbate), and the Sexually Frustrated Working Mom (Debra Jo Rupp). Their superiors at a packaging firm are a more mixed lot: the Clueless CEO (Dakin Matthews), the Himbo (Kevin Conroy), the Token Guy with Dreadlocks (Gary Dourdan), and the Bitch (Lisa Darr).
Harper manages to maintain her dignity despite The Office’s flimsy scripts. At least she can take comfort knowing that her new series isn’t as treacly as fellow Mary Tyler Moore Show veteran Ed Asner’s execrable ABC kid-com, Thunder Alley. Still, it came awfully damn close when Rupp’s character brought her sick son to work and the brat puked in the company elevator (”I frowed up!”).
Perhaps remembering her troubled last series — Harper’s departure caused Valerie to be renamed Valerie’s Family, which later became The Hogan Family — The Office’s producers chose not to call it The Valerie Harper Show. For that, she can only be grateful. C-