Is ‘The Office’ making Michael into a good boss? (TV commentary)

“The Office” is five seasons old, so this is about the time you’d expect it to fall apart, but it’s as funny as ever. It’s also the time you’d expect the writers to morph Michael Scott, the archetypal Worst Boss Ever, into a good boss. They are doing that, but rather than ruining the show, it has made it easier to embrace.

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Maybe ‘The Phantom Menace’ was ‘just a movie’ after all (Commentary)

Ten years ago today, I was waiting in a sun-drenched line at West Acres Cinema in Fargo, N.D., to buy a ticket for the midnight debut of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” a movie that was supposed to change cinema as we knew it. One could make a case that it succeeded, at least in one sense: All “Star Wars” movies push the technology that makes fake things look real, and “Episode I” was no exception.

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Maybe mountain lions aren’t so bad, or: Why this season of ‘24’ is the worst ever (TV commentary)

Can we put the Kim Bauer/mountain lion jokes to rest now?

Since Jack’s daughter was briefly pursued by a big cat in Season 2, the incident has become a touchstone for critics who want to illustrate silly moments in “24.” That sequence never really bothered me. There are indeed mountain lions in the hills around Los Angeles; they were there first and we built a city around them.

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Is ‘Lost’ the most overrated sci-fi show ever? (TV commentary)

The latest issue of Wizard asks “Is ‘Lost’ the greatest sci-fi show of all time?” I can answer that in two words: Um … no. I don’t know where the magazine ranked “Lost” in its top 25 — it was wrapped in plastic and I refuse to purchase an issue that asks such a stupid question on the cover.

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Need more ‘Fringe’ after Tuesday’s season finale? Try the comic books (Commentary)

The first season finale of J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe” (8 p.m. Central Tuesday on Fox, and the next day at Hulu) promises to delve deeper into the relationship between Good Mad Scientist Walter Bishop and Bad Mad Scientist William Bell. They were lab partners at MIT; Bell went on to found mysterious corporation Massive Dynamic and Bishop went on to the nuthouse.

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The new ‘Star Trek’ is actually kind of cool (Movie review)

Director J.J. Abrams makes “Star Trek” respectable again with this origin tale that sets up everything we’ve seen in six TV series — I’m including the underappreciated cartoon — and 10 movies. (Well, “Enterprise” takes place before this, but who’s counting?) He also makes “Star Trek” cool for the first time.

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Happy (day after) Mother’s Day from ‘Gossip Girl’: Brittany Snow returns to TV (Commentary)

It’s appropriate that Brittany Snow spells her name the normal way, rather than “Britney,” “Brittani” or “Britni.” The actress strikes me as an old-fashioned girl, because I first saw her as Meg Pryor in the 1960s-set “American Dreams,” that 2002-05 NBC series where Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” played in the background during every episode.

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