Ayman Mohyeldin talks about his experience as a foreign correspondent in Egypt and Ukraine. Mohyeldin has worked for Al-Jazeera and NBC news. 

Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Ayman Mohyeldin said he was a bored NBC news intern in the summer of 2001, questioning his career choice, until the attacks of 9/11 occurred. His life changed when a producer handed the Egyptian-born, American-raised intern a stack of tapes of Osama bin Laden and asked him to translate them. 

This was the beginning of a journalism career that has since taken him to the Gaza Strip, Egypt, Iraq, South Africa and Ukraine. Mohyeldin spoke about his experiences as a foreign correspondent in Egypt in 2011 and Ukraine in 2014 in an event sponsored by the University’s Institute for Communication on Media in the Middle East on Thursday.

According to Mohyeldin, who covered the Egyptian Revolution in 2011 for Al-Jazeera English, the Arab Spring has helped inspire the organization of protests in Ukraine. When Ukrainian protestors at a rally discovered he was Egyptian, Mohyeldin said, organizers even tried to get him to come on stage and tell them how Egyptians had done it in Tahrir Square. Mohyeldin declined.

“There are incredible amounts of similarities [between the uprisings in Ukraine and Egypt] because so many of the grievances are the same,” Mohyeldin said. “Young people, very passionate about their ideals and values, disenfranchised, ignored by the state which had grown to be much more corrupt and abusive, and not meeting the basic services for the people.”

Through his talk, Mohyeldin stressed the importance of context in foreign correspondence. Because so many current events, especially in the Middle East, are caused by tens and even hundreds of years of cultural factors and history, each situation requires in-depth research and immersion into local culture.

“The other thing I’ve learned about the Middle East is definitely don’t try to make sense of the Middle East,” Mohyeldin admitted. “It’s almost impossible to understand purely by just jumping into it and trying to learn little bit by little bit.”

Karin Wilkins, middle eastern studies and radio-television-film professor and director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies, said the institute tries to invite media professionals who emphasize giving their audience a complete context for current events in the Middle East. Wilkins said Mohyeldin’s cultural background as both an Egyptian and American have helped him to better understand both his audience and his stories.

“Because the Middle East is such a complicated and important region of the world and most people in this country know so little, we really depend on media professionals to feed us information,” Wilkins said. 

Claire Cooley, a Middle Eastern languages and cultures graduate student who lived in Egypt for over two years, agreed that it is crucial for foreign correspondents to know the history of their stories instead of just jumping to where the latest story is happening. 

“It was good he talked about context because there’s so many aspects of context people here might not understand,” Cooley said.

10 new TV series to watch this fall

Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg reprise their "The Avengers" roles in "Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg reprise their "The Avengers" roles in "Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D."

After a long day of productivity and hard work, it's ideal to kick back, relax, grab the remote and watch your favorite TV shows. TV Guide reports 35 new shows will air this fall on primetime. Viewers should filter out shows that are worth their time to watch. (Unless there are viewers who have absolutely all the free time in the world to watch every new show, but that’s a small percentage.)

There are 10 TV shows in particular that stand out in some way from other shows in themes and premises.

Family-oriented shows will dominate about one third of primetime air. Four of these shows should be on viewers’ watch list.

1. From Chuck Lorre, the creator of “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory,” comes CBS’s new comedy “Mom,” starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, who play Christy and Bonnie, respectively. Christy, a single mother who quits drinking, pulls her life together to care for herself and her kids. Bonnie also tries to rehabilitate herself and her relationships. Three generations in one household is one of the most fun settings. This show should be a hit, because not only are Faris and Janney excellent actresses playing likeable roles but the show’s premise based on recovery of a dysfunctional family is appealing.

2. Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are “The Crazy Ones” in CBS’s new comedy about a father and daughter working in an advertising agency. Their relationship keeps the show unique and dynamic, but it is also fresh to see a new world centered on advertising and marketing — this is creative on the writers’ part. How many times have we seen shows that had its characters work in food services, hotels, law firms and hospitals? Plus, a goofy, lively father and a driven, organized daughter are yin and yang. 

3. Worlds collide when a Caucasian family and a Latino family are brought together after their teenage children fall in love and are expecting a child. Although the unexpected teenage pregnancy storyline has been overdone, NBC’s “Welcome to the Family” brings a new angle in focusing on cultural differences between the two families as they adjust to life changes, which is realistically appealing because of the diversity of U.S. population. Interracial couples haven’t been explored very much in entertainment, so it’s a nice change to look forward to.

4. Fox’s new comedy “Enlisted” explores at two types of families: an American family and a military family. Sergeant Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) gets assigned to lead a base in Florida where his two younger brothers are stationed. They serve in the Rear Detachment Unit, where soldiers not good enough for overseas and not bad enough to get kicked out of the army reside. This group of eclectic personalities brings humor and mischief to the base. The show stands out from other comedies in its setting of a military base portrayed in a heartfelt humor where Pete takes care of his own family and his fellow military brothers and sisters.

About two-thirds of the new shows coming this fall are dramas and several fall under the sci-fi and action genres. Three shows in particular — NBC’s “The Blacklist, ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Fox’s “Almost Human” and The CW’s “The 100” — should be on viewers’ watch list.

5. When a wanted criminal surrenders to the FBI, viewers know he’s got an agenda in mind. “The Blacklist” starts with Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turning himself in to the FBI, with an offer to help catch a terrorist under the condition that he only speaks to Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). This show offers suspenseful, plot-thickening drama with a smart and patient anti-villain whose sole purpose is to rid of all of the criminals on his “blacklist,” using the FBI and its resources. Not many shows on primetime explore the plots and psychological effects of anti-villains as puppeteers.

6. Unlike Marvel’s summer movie blockbuster “The Avengers,” its TV spinoff “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” centers on a group of agents who serve to protect ordinary citizens from extraordinary super humans. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) returns from the dead and Agents Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) join him. This ABC action thriller is one of the most anticipated dramas of the fall. It is reminiscent of the X-Men universe, except the sides are switched: The heroes don’t have superpowers and the villains do (but the heroes do have awesome high-tech, spy-like gadgets and weapons). These heroes are just as extraordinary as their villains. 

7. From J.J. Abrams and the executive producer of sci-fi mystery drama “Fringe” comes Fox’s sci-fi action drama “Almost Human,” based in a not-so-far futuristic society where cops partner up with androids. John Kennex (Karl Urban), a depressed and outcast cop with a synthetic leg, is issued a robotic partner Dorian (Michael Ealy), whose built-in humanistic personality ironically reminds John that it’s ok to be human. The show’s ironic concept of machine reminding humans to feel and to learn despite hardships is unique in that many other shows and movies will use machine to juxtapose humans, but here, machine complements and works with humans.   

8. The CW presents its sci-fi drama “The 100” where in the far-off future, humans live in space stations and Earth has been abandoned and desolate. About a century after a nuclear war destroyed civilization, the surviving humans who moved to space decide to send 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth to rebuild society. If they are successful, their track records are erased. This show is similar to William Golding’s book “Lord of the Flies,” because both are about a group of people trying to re-colonize society, and of course, they run into obstacles where there’s no set leader guiding the group. “The 100” sheds light on human nature in both positive and negative ways. It takes teamwork to build a colony but rebellion can easily spread through pressure and group mentality.

Vampires are still in. Werewolves are still in. All things supernatural are in. Two supernatural/fantasy dramas should be on viewers’ watch list.

9. Mystic Falls’ favorite hybrid — half vampire, half werewolf — Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is determined to take back his old home and kingdom in New Orleans, which his former mentee vampire Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) has reigned since Klaus’s departure. “The Originals,” the CW’s spin-off of “The Vampire Diaries,” presents allure, scheming, bonding and the embracing of vampirism. This show explores Klaus’s journey of not just reclaiming his kingdom but re-bonding with his family, old and new. As Klaus's brother Elijah (Daniel Gillies) said, “Family is power.” 

10. Speaking of vampires … watch out folks, because Dracula has risen out of his coffin. Again. And he’s back for revenge on those who betrayed him from centuries before. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as the lead who poses as an American entrepreneur in London during the Victorian Era in NBC’s literary/fantasy drama “Dracula.” From the producers of “Downton Abbey” and the director of “The Tudors,” “Dracula” takes literature’s favorite vampire and gives him a new story. This show looks like a guilty pleasure and fans will indulge.

The TV fall season is just a month and a half away. Viewers can check out the official TV trailers for these shows and decide for themselves which shows they want to tune in to. 

Can 'Grimm' please have a spinoff?

Look out, world, more Grimms are coming and they’re going to kick some supernatural butt — or at least that is what I hope happens someday.

Two supernatural spinoffs are set to premiere this fall: “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” from "Once Upon A Time," on ABC and “The Originals,” from "The Vampire Diaries," on the CW. If NBC can greenlight a spinoff of “Grimm,” that would be nice, too.

NBC’s fantasy/horror drama “Grimm” has qualities that give it potential to move the fans to a new, but yet familiar, territory with many possible storylines to explore in a spinoff series.

The show centers on the rich and abundant existence of wesen, a generic term used to describe the race of supernatural creatures, which allows for the writers to explore backstories with the protagonist Nick Burkhardt’s ancestors (the Brothers Grimm included). His ancestors documented every type of wesen they came across around the world in many books and stored away special weapons they used against wesen over time. Nick’s late Aunt Marie kept all of this in her trailer which Nick visits every time he comes across a wesen during his job as a cop.

Depending on how the writers want to develop storylines, the spinoff could focus on a single member or multiple members of the Grimm ancestors.  The time periods could possible differ, transitioning over generations of Grimms. The possibilities for storylines are endless.

Additionally, the current “Grimm” crew would not have to spend too much money to create masks and accessories and CGI works because these wesen, for the most part, have been revealed on the show. The crew currently uses a combination of masks and makeup and CGI technology to portray when their wesen characters transform into their wesen faces. But the writers could choose to create new wesen to be explored and to keep fans interested, which would entail a bigger budget.

While I understand that most spinoffs tend to stay in the present focusing on one character and his/her journeys or they move forward into the future with new characters, I think the concept with going back in time to reveal more about Nick’s ancestors is just as promising. “Grimm” takes place in other times, such as the Medieval Ages or the Victorian Era.

Fantasy dramas are the shows that can have good, potential spinoffs since writers have to get creative to give the show a foundational structure and a “Bible” of rules, so to speak, that the characters follow. In the past, several of these shows and their spinoffs have been successful.

Joss Whedon’s fantasy action drama “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which aired from 1997 to 2003, had its spinoff “Angel” air from 1999 to 2004, according to IMDB.com. The shows received many nominations and awards for both cast and crew. The shows were a hit and “Angel” helped cushion the series finale of “Buffy” since it ended the year after “Buffy” ended.

Additionally, ABC’s fantasy/adventure drama “Once Upon A Time” centers on the existence of a variety of fairytale characters, ranging from Cinderella to Rumpelstiltskin. The spinoff, as the title implies, takes place in Wonderland and sets around the adventures of Alice, back in time before our current “Once” adventures occur.

The CW’s fantasy/horror drama “The Vampire Diaries” includes vampires, werewolves, witches and hybrids (half vampire, half werewolves). Its spinoff “The Originals” centers on our favorite hybrid and Original vampire Klaus and his brother Elijah who moves back to New Orleans to take back his modernized town and kingdom.

Both shows have been well received by critics and fans are looking forward to their respective spinoffs.

There is without a doubt that “Grimm” should get its own spinoff show. Creativity on the writers’ part could expand the Grimm universe. Grimmsters would love it and new viewers can get hooked on the suspense and witty humor.

NEW YORK — A rule change that would allow transgender women to participate in the Miss Universe beauty pageant next year is a step forward for equality, advocates said Tuesday after pageant officials announced the policy shift.

Pageant officials said they are working on the language of the official rule policy change but expected final word to come soon. The rules will have to be approved by Donald Trump, who runs the Miss Universe Organization, and NBC.

Trump and NBC co-own the contest.

The announcement of the policy change comes a week after the organization decided to allow Jenna Talackova to compete for Canada’s spot in the Miss Universe pageant this year

Talackova, a Vancouver resident, underwent a sex change four years ago after being born a male. The advocacy group GLAAD called on the Miss Universe Organization to review her case, as well as open the competition to transgender women, after she was disqualified from competing in the Miss Universe Canada contest next month.

“We want to give credit where credit is due, and the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization.

“We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”

Most Anticipated 2012

Editor's Note: This is the second part in a two-day series about the Life & Arts senior staff's most anticipated events and entertainment of 2012. Today's entries are about events taking place across the country.

Release date: TBA, Spring 2012
Network: NBC

“Community” fans received a belated Christmas gift this year. The comedic television series that follows the lives of a community college study group was taken off the air midseason, but the NBC entertainment chief recently announced that the show will return in the spring to finish up its third season. “Community’s” small but dedicated fan base appreciates the show for its heavy emphasis on pop culture references, including numerous television and film related parodies. These references can be both obvious and painstakingly subtle, which can make it difficult for some viewers to follow and may contribute to its low ratings. Before the temporary hiatus, this season of “Community” kept fans laughing with episodes that included a Christmas special, a spot-on Glee parody, a karaoke session featuring Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” and an entire episode entitled “Remedial Chaos Theory” devoted to exploring the different space-time continuum possibilities of a single evening get-together, “Sliding Doors” style. Whether or not NBC will renew the show is still up in the air, but “Community” fans still have time to enjoy what has become one of the best sitcoms on air. — Jessica Lee

Movie:Django Unchained
Directed and written by: Quentin Tarantino
Release date: Dec. 25

Anticipation for Quentin Tarantino’s Southern film, “Django Unchained,” has been high ever since the notoriously controversial director revealed he would be making a film about a freed slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), taking revenge on plantation owners with help from the bounty hunter who freed him (Christoph Waltz). As if the thought of Tarantino and Waltz working together again after “Inglorious Basterds” wasn’t enough, the rest of the cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio as the film’s villain, Samuel L. Jackson as a slave and the likes of Sacha Baron Cohen, Kurt Russell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gerald McRaney. “Django Unchained” doesn’t release until Christmas Day, but it’s already promising to be one of the highlights of 2012’s cinematic landscape. — Alex Williams

Movie:The Pirates! Band Of Misfits
Release date: March 30

From the creators that brought some of our generation’s first tastes of stop-motion claymation, “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run,” comes “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits,” a tale about a less-than-lucrative pirate and his motley crew. Based on the “Pirates!” book series by British author Gideon Defoe, the movie follows The Pirate Captain, voiced by Hugh Grant, as he attempts to beat out his rivals for the pirate of the year award. The adorably clueless captain’s rivals include the reigning champion pirate Black Bellamy, (Jeremy Piven), and the feisty wildcard contestant Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek). In addition to beating out his fellow pirates, The Pirate Captain struggles with an enraged Queen Victoria out to get him, and the constantly looming notion that most of his high sea endeavors tend to backfire on him. “The Pirates!” will hopefully find that rare marriage of slapstick comedy and dry humor that will delightfully resonate with an all-ages audience. — Anjli Mehta

Music: Nocturniquet
Artist: The Mars Volta
Release date: March 27

When guitarist and composer Omar Rodriguez-Lopez first announced that his psychedelic, prog-rock collective The Mars Volta had completed its follow-up to 2009’s Octahedron last year, fans impatiently scavenged website forums and anything Mars Volta-related to hear some of the new tracks. Some fans even led a petition, hoping to force the band’s label Warner Bros., into releasing the album, titled Nocturniquet, before this year. Although the petition failed, those fortunate enough to catch the group during last year’s South By Southwest (slyly performing under the moniker Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group) or their tour alongside rock legends Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers, were able to get a taste of what the new album has to offer. Described as “future punk” by lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Nocturniquet is slated for release on March 27, featuring the band’s renovated lineup.

Premieres: Apr. 15 on HBO

“I think I might be the voice of my generation,” says Hannah (Lena Dunham), a recent college graduate struggling to make ends meet with her female friends in New York. Then she hedges, “Or at least a voice of a generation.” This new comedy created, written and directed by Dunham (who broke out in 2010 with her South By Southwest hit “Tiny Furniture”), and produced by Judd Apatow, is all about those moments of compromise and the self-navigating and excitement that flood post-grad adulthood. Hannah seems like a worthy heroine — she’s like Liz Lemon’s kid sister, raised on cable television and dry wit: “I calculated, and I can last in New York for three and a half more days. Maybe seven if I don’t eat lunch.” And with these two sharp comedic minds working together, it might very well prove itself a distinctive voice of our generation. — Aleksander Chan

Book: “Telegraph Avenue”
Author: Michael Chabon
Release date: Fall 2012

Michael Chabon is certainly among America’s most celebrated authors in contemporary literature, threading aspects of his Jewish heritage into tales tackling issues of cultural identity and the dissolving structure American family. His 2000 novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and was a gorgeous piece of historical fiction following the lives of two Jewish cousins, who together help foster the genre of American comics in the early 20th century. “Kavalier and Clay” won Chabon the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2001. Later this year, Chabon will release a new novel, titled “Telegraph Avenue.” Early reports about the book have indicated that it will largely be about the cities of Chabon’s childhood, namely Berkeley and Oakland, California. If the wistful, meandering blog post Chabon wrote about the book for The Atlantic’s website last week is any indication, “Telegraph Avenue” will continue in the vein of his usual themes of nostalgia and the power of the physical environments of our pasts.

Book: “The Red House”
Author: Mark Haddon
Release date: June 12

Six years since his last novel, “A Spot of Bother,” and nine years since his breakthrough, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” author Mark Haddon returns with “The Red House.” After proving his ingenious ability to get inside the head of even a child with Asperger’s syndrome in “The Curious Incident,” Haddon will be stretching that skill by telling the story from the eight different characters. Despite such a daunting project, Haddon chose to stick with a simple story: A wealthy man seeks to reconnect with his estranged sister and her family in the English countryside for the week after he remarried and gained a stepdaughter. There are none of the elements that popped up in his first two books. No adventures through London. No mysteries to be solved. No weird, obvious personality quirks. However, the success of Haddon’s previous novels has never relied on the gimmicks that made them playful on first read. Instead, it has always been the characters who struggle to be better to those around them that made Haddon’s stories exceptional. And with early readers calling “The Red House” a family tragicomedy, Haddon does not seem to be deviating too far from his strength: putting the resentments that build up in families under a literary microscope.

Printed on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 as: Most Anticipated 2012 National Edition

After NBC did not include "Community" on its midseason schedule, fans on Twitter and Facebook have begun campaigning to save the show from potential cancellation. (Photo Courtesy of NBC)

From online fan reaction to the news that meta-sitcom “Community” was conspicuously absent from NBC’s recently-released midseason schedule, an uninformed observer might make the mistake of believing it’s one of the most wildly popular comedies on TV.

On the contrary, “Community” remains one of the lowest-rated shows on network TV, lately averaging only about 3.5 million viewers an episode, according to TVbytheNumbers.

After the mid-season schedule release, a “Save Community” campaign quickly up on Twitter and various media outlets, calling for “six seasons and a movie” in reference to one of the show’s more meta lines of dialogue, in addition to setting up things like Facebook pages and online petitions urging NBC to keep TV’s most underrated on the air.

All of this panic is despite the fact that “Community” is not officially cancelled at this point, and is still slated to produce all 22 episodes originally ordered for the season.

“Community” and its fanbase exemplifies pop culture cult devotion: an extremely narrow but fervent audience committed to a quirky, fast-talking show that’s just as nerdy and enthusiastic as its viewers.

Although “Community” fans are justified in their disappointment — the show is one of the most cleverly crafted, delightfully playful and emotionally resonant sitcoms in recent memory — they certainly shouldn’t be surprised. “Community” is full of insular, self-referential, convoluted jokes that reward the kind of loyal viewers who watch and re-watch each episode carefully, combing each for inside-joke Easter eggs and obscure pop culture references they missed the first time around.

This intense complexity makes “Community” intimidating for new viewers to jump into, however, and its ratings suffer for it accordingly. The very thing that makes “Community” such an exceptional half-hour of comedy may well be what helps bring about its demise.

Of course, “Community” is hardly the first show to inspire the outrage of its tiny-but-vehement fanbase when faced with the specter of cancellation. Low-rated but much-adored shows like “Firefly,” “Twin Peaks,” “Roswell” and “Veronica Mars” have all inspired their fans to loudly protest their cancellation.

Most of the time, “save our show” campaigns like these are fruitless. No matter how dedicated a show’s fans may be, networks are only interested in attracting as many viewers possible, and if a show isn’t measuring up, they’re inevitably axed to make room for new possible ratings-drawing programming.

However, intense fan reaction occasionally can actually keep a show on the air. The first fan campaign to successfully keep a beloved show from cancellation came in 1968, when the original “Star Trek” series was performing dismally in the ratings by the end of its second season. A massive Trekkie letter-writing campaign convinced the network to bring the show back for one more season of intergalactic adventures.

More recently, the ever-growing popularity and protracted demands for a movie spin-off of short-lived but ingenious comedy cult “Arrested Development” have now prompted a reunion nearly six years after its 2006 cancellation. The original producers of the show are slated to produce a season of new episodes, which will be distributed exclusively on Netflix in 2013 in a completely unprecedented Internet revival.

Unfortunately, the “Save Community” campaign so far fails to resemble anything like the kinds of Herculean efforts behind “Star Trek” or “Arrested Development.” At this point, fans’ indignation remains devoted to getting the show to trend on Twitter and getting people to sign various petitions, neither of which are likely to do much on their own. If “Community” fans want to get “six seasons and a movie,” like fans have been tweeting for, they’ll have to commit to concrete action — the most effective of which is watching the show live as it airs and convincing others to do the same.

Printed on Friday, December 2, 2011 as: 'Community' has strong community

TV Tuesday

Steve Carell finally made his exit from NBC’s “The Office” last week and it’s difficult to fathom how the show will survive without him.

America said a tearful goodbye last Thursday to one of its most beloved television characters of all time: Michael Scott, regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton and lead of “The Office.”

For seven years, Steve Carell has been the emotional and comedic heart of “The Office,” successfully living up to and distancing the show from Ricky Gervais’s British original. As the years went on and “The Office” became one of NBC’s biggest hits, its world expanded with new settings and characters.

Through it all, Carell’s attention-seeking, obnoxious and somehow lovable Michael Scott grounded the show and linked the broadening ensemble together through his painfully embarrassing and ill-conceived attempts at making his the greatest and most tight-knit office in the world.

Memorable Michael Scott moments include his ultra-awkward job hosting the “Dundie” awards (complete with an “8 Mile” rap parody) way back in season two, and when he was the only office member to show up at timid little Pam’s art show, a rare moment of unselfish sweetness from Michael.

For Carell, it seems Hollywood has come calling. Increasing offers to do blockbuster film projects and the fading quality that comes with any long-lived show seem to have taken their toll. Last summer, Carell announced that this season of “The Office” would be his last.

Here’s where NBC made their big mistake. Rather than end the show as they should have with the bittersweet tearjerker of an episode “Goodbye Michael,” in which Michael Scott flies off to Colorado to marry the love of his life, NBC has decided the show must go on without Carell.

Financially, the decision makes sense. “The Office” is still one of NBC’s biggest hits well into its seventh season and it seems the network wants to pump the show for all it’s worth. From a storytelling perspective, it’s difficult to see how “The Office” will survive without Carell.

In terms of comedic value, “The Office” has been able to pull out a relatively funny seventh season. The storytelling has endured the inevitable for long-running shows: weak attempts at injecting excitement with new characters and increasingly ridiculous hijinks from week to week. The spark that once made the show a genius, runaway hit is slowly dying.

It almost seems rude to continue the show without Carell. It was his fantastic portrayal of the deeply flawed but beloved regional manager that made the US version of “The Office” so outstanding in the first place. To continue the show after his graceful departure does a disservice to Carell and to the show itself.

The remaining three episodes of the seventh season will ostensibly follow the search for Michael Scott’s replacement at Dunder-Mifflin, and NBC has pulled out all the stops in terms of end-of-season guest stars in addition to Will Ferrell, who has already been appearing as Michael’s temporary replacement.

The season finale will feature appearances from Ray Romano, Will Arnett, James Spader, Catherine Tate, Jim Carrey and Ricky Gervais, all apparently vying to be Scott’s replacement. Despite NBC’s assurances that “The Office” will continue to entertain without Carell, the addition of so many guest stars seems a desperate gesture by NBC, begging viewers to stick with “The Office” despite Carell’s imminent absence.

Even members of the show’s writing staff seem to be restless to leave “The Office.” In an interview with New York Magazine, Mindy Kaling, who writes much of the show and plays the office ditz Kelly Kapoor, hinted that she might be moving on to new projects at the end of the season. It seems even some of the show’s creators have begun to acknowledge “The Office” has begun to outstay its welcome.

As Michael Scott said goodbye to each of his employees, he gave to the portly Kevin a grotesque, pig-like caricature, trying in typical Michael Scott style to teach Kevin a lesson: “Don’t become a caricature.” The gesture seemed uncannily fitting. Michael might as well have been giving this warning to the show itself, which is in danger of becoming a parody of its former self.