Spader Debuts as Office CEO Critics, viewers react to season premiere By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Sep 23, 2011 10:11 AM CDT 7 comments Comments Actor James Spader, who stars in the new movie "Shorts," appears on the NBC "Today" television program in New York Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) (Newser) – James Spader was back in The Office’s season premiere last night, as Dunder Mifflin’s new—and slightly creepy—CEO, Robert California. So how did he—and the show—do? “That was encouraging,” declares James Poniewozik in Time. “I am not nearly ready, after one episode, to declare that the retooled, post-Steve Carell The Office has solved its problems,” but last night’s episode gave him hope. “I'm really enjoying Spader as California, who practically seems to be in a dysfunctional boyfriend relationship with the entire office.” But not everyone was a fan: “Spader was true to the character,” Jen Chaney writes in the Washington Post. “But because the character is ultra-blasé, the energy level in the Dunder Mifflin office was low,” and the episode “wasn’t that funny.” Viewers, however, seemed pleased, according to the tweets rounded up by the Hollywood Reporter. Sample: “I love this show, but I love James Spader even more.” As a whole, the episode was “satisfyingly and consistently funny,” writes Linda Holmes on NPR. Despite the loss of Steve Carell and his Michael Scott character, “it didn't feel overwritten or panicky. It didn't feel like they were trying to cover up the loss of Carell with gimmicks. It felt, in short, like a strong episode of The Office.” Click to find out who took over as regional manager.