By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Mar 04, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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TV babies have been a big deal ever since Little Ricky Ricardo was born the same day in 1953 as the real-life Desi Arnaz Jr.

Network TV isn't anywhere near the focus of our attention it was back in the days of "I Love Lucy."  But babies have become a staple of sitcoms, and NBC's "The Office" gives us one tonight at 8 on Channel 4.

In some fading sitcoms, babies have been a gimmick to jump-start interest. But "The Office" isn't a typical joke-driven sitcom. It's an exaggerated version of a real-life workplace populated with recognizable characters. Obviously, they're exaggerated, but the humor comes in seeing personalities that are familiar to us.

The show successfully rode out the lengthy Pam and Jim pre-relationship neatly -- finally getting them married in a one-hour episode earlier this season. "The Office" is the rare show that can work as a one-hour special (most joke-driven aren't effective in more than 30-minute chunks).

In one traditional sitcom tenet, Pam and Jim are the realistic magnetic core of the show. It's the crazy characters that orbit around them. You know what I mean; Andy Griffith was the least exaggerated of the Mayberry bunch. Even Jerry was the least over-the-top of the "Seinfeld" bunch.

The "mockumentary" style of "The Office" has now become a sitcom standard itself. It's working this season on "Parks and Recreation," and worked from the start on ABC's "Modern Family."

This season's "The Office" is dealing with economic change -- it's been bought by a computer printer company headed by the hilarious Kathy Bates. And it shows no sign of fading.

In short, there's enough going on in "The Office" that Pam and Jim's baby, though the center of tonight's episode, isn't the center of the show.

And in the mind of  Steve Carell's Michael Scott, everything that happens in the office is about him, including the baby. 

On TV: Remember former Channel 4 anchor Claudia Coffey? She left town a few years back to work in Washington, D.C., and is now leaving the capital's Fox outlet to return to her hometown of Louisville, Ky. She'll be a weekend anchor and reporter at WHAS-TV, that city's ABC station.

  • Zach Galifinakis is hosting NBC's "Saturday Night Live" at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 4. 
  • The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog reports that ABC has cut short Christian Slater's "The Forgotten." The season finale airs next week. And the signs are that the show won't be back in the fall.
  • Michael Ausiello reports at that Rob Lowe is heading from ABC's "Brothers and Sisters" to NBC's "Parks and Recreation," although the deal isn't quite done yet. His character would appear this spring and stretch into next fall's third season.
  • Early "American Idol" front-runner Crystal Bowersox opened Wednesday's performance show of Fox's top-rated "reality" competition after her hospitalization for what's said to be a complication of diabetes, led producers to delay the 10 female semifinalists' performance by a day.
  • The best line of Wednesday's "Idol" came from Ellen DeGeneres, judging piano-playing Katelyn Epperly's performance. "I like that you were playing guitar, and uh, you weren't playing guitar, you were playing piano ... 'Member when you played guitar that one time?" 

All SNL's presidents: is hosting a video that reunites a long list of "Saturday Night Live" presidential imitators, including Will Ferrell as George W. Bush, Dana Carvey as George Bush the first, Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter, Fred Armisen as Barack Obama, Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford and Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton. Jim Carrey pitches in as Ronald Reagan.

The short, directed by Ron Howard, is a political pitch for the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, and whether you're interested in the issue or not, it's interesting to see all of them together.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.