By Scott Brown
Updated May 31, 2006 at 08:49 PM EDT

Whipper-snappers, I’m old enough to remember when NBC’s summer strategy consisted of re-runs aired under the saggy rubric “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!” How far we’ve come. Now, while ABC’s Lost occupies its fans all summer long with a massive online alternate reality game, NBC’s The Office — the best comedy on television, hands down — will be providing its fans with 10 all-new web shorts.

That’s smart. The plot arc is even smarter: It’s nominally a mystery — $3,000 is missing from the Scranton division’s coffers — investigated by the fractious Accounts Dept. troika of Angela (Angela Kinsey), Kevin (Brian Baumgartner), and Oscar (Oscar Nunez). Brilliant: The showdown between fundie prig Angela and quietly gay Oscar has been brewing for a while, and watching it develop against the backdrop of a “serious investigation” is a fantastic way to up the ante. It also neatly avoids dealing with the thorny Jim-Pam romance. Not to mention the business savvy: The Office‘s core audience consumes web shorts like so many corn chips.

I’m ridiculously giddy about this. Speaking of which: Who’d like to see a TV Watch on this show next season? Because I have a Dwight-like loyalty to it, and that could work out for all of us.

addCredit(“The Office: Chris Haston”)