I didn't really care for the first two seasons of this show; well I liked them but certainly didn't see what the fans who praise it to the rafters were seeing. It seemed a little slow for my taste and was soft around the edges, although fairly frequent sharp dialogue and supporting characters did a lot of work to hold it up. In this third season I was really happy to find that the tone was a lot harder and the pacing was much better. The plots remain focused around the show (thankfully the Montana move is temporary) and generally they work well as self- contained plots although generally fitting into the flow of the place.
The main thing is that it is funnier than it had been before. This isn't because it has better material per se, but probably more to do with how well it is delivered. Dialogue scenes are sharper and have better timing than the previous two seasons; so that sense of tiredness and the mundane which was there is not really a negative factor. This sense is still there in so much as Larry struggles with it, but it doesn't infect the timing or delivery of the show in the way I felt it did before. The great lines come a little faster too and as before I loved Hank and Artie from start to end, the biggest change here is that I also really liked Larry. Shandling's performance seemed better and he was able to be tired and demanding without it being the negative "whole" to his character; with this out of the way I found him more engaged and engaging, and with more laughs directly from his material than before. The supporting cast continue to be good with lots of good lines spread across them while their performances sell the sense of a real office.
I was glad this season delivered more perhaps it is more to do with my tastes than the general view, but this third season just did more right. It took the strengths from the previous seasons and just delivered them better with better pace, more consistency and with less of the rather relaxed and dulled tone that I felt worked against it somewhat. I look forward to the fourth season.
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