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Posted at 08:35 AM ET, 09/23/2011

James Spader on ‘The Office’: How did he do?

Rainn Wilsn and James Spader, settling into a new vibe on “The Office.” (Chris Haston - CHRIS HASTON/NBC)

James Spader made his much-hyped debut as a series regular on “The Office,” picking up his inscrutable-and-intimidating Robert California persona where it left off in last season’s finale.

How did he do?

Well, Spader was true to the character. But because the character is ultra-blasé, the energy level in the Dunder Mifflin office was low, even with the neurotic Andy Bernard in the regional manager’s chair. (That’s right — Ed Helms is technically the new Steve Carell.)

Aside from a few chuckles during the planking portion of the program, this episode of “The Office” just wasn’t that funny. In fact, at certain points, it was cringe-worthy, and not in a good, giving-out-a-misspelled-Dundy kind of way. Note to the fine people who write “The Office”: You cannot replace Michael Scott’s “That’s what she said” with Stanley Hudson adding “in your butt” to the end of sentences for no apparent reason. That’s just not going to take off.

Given his winners vs. losers approach to managing a company, Spader — CEO of Sabre, the company that oversees Dunder Mifflin — is clearly going to play mind games with Jim, pregnant Pam and the rest of the gang going forward. Which might work, if the writing gets sharper.

But what do you think: Did Spader make “The Office” work? Weigh in with a comment or vote in the poll below.

By  |  08:35 AM ET, 09/23/2011

Tags:  The Office

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