Last night's appearance by Idris Elba on The Office -- the first of a half-dozen or so appearances by the man some of us cherish as the pensive drug dealer Stringer Bell on The Wire -- brought a crisp crackle of energy to the sitcom. The British-born Elba's new character, Charles Minor, is a middle-management-type brought in to tamp down the craziness as well as excess spending in Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin branch.
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We can be pretty sure Minor makes less than Bell did slinging whatever illegal substances Baltimore got its rocks of on in The Wire. But It's very good to see that, while Steve Carrell's Michael cannot help but make gauche references to Minor's race, the show itself seems to be positioning Minor as a mildly uptight company-man who will countenance no jive from anyone, including himself. Add Charles Minor to the list of businessman-characters -- yes, including those on your beloved Mad Men -- who bear continued watching so that we can see what makes them tick, or, perhaps, crack. -- Ken Tucker