Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Office: Go the gay way

Some quick "The Office" thoughts while I let the DVR cool down before "Grey's Anatomy"...

To quote a wise man in blue and black tights, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! That. Was. Hysterical. After ending last season on an incredibly dramatic, romantic kiss, we end the third season premiere with the most cringe-inducing, horrifying, uncomfortable, genius kiss of all time, made even funnier by Pam and Ryan's reactions to it. (Kelly's excitement was also pretty great.)

For all the talk about What's Going to Happen With Jim and Pam?, the show has always been about so much more than that, and I'm glad Greg Daniels reminded everybody of that. He dealt with the fallout from The Kiss quickly, then got back to the business of Michael Scott making a complete ass of himself -- over and over and over again.

I liked Jim's visit to Bizarro Dunder-Mifflin, with the boss obviously inspired by the British version's Neil Godwin -- the handsome, charming, funny guy who was everything David Brent wished he was -- and with Rashida Jones and Ed Helms as slightly tweaked versions of Angela and Dwight. (Or is Rashida being set up as Bizarro Pam? She certainly seemed to have a stick up her ass here, but she usually plays The Babe, so... hmm...) And if the Stamford boss is supposed to be Neil, does that mean the two branches will be consolidated soon to bring Jim back to Scranton?

And yet in the middle of all the wackiness, of Dwight looking at gay porn because "Michael said it was okay," of Kevin getting the giggles just thinking about Oscar being gay, of Michael's inability to stop bringing up his one-night stand with Jan, of Pam trying unsuccessfully to turn Ryan into her new Jim, Greg managed to keep the heart in there. The scene with Roy talking about how he wants to win Pam back made me feel just a little sorry for the big jerkwad, and I sighed when Jim looked to the empty chair next to him during the HERO portion of Diversity Day, or when Pam smiled in recognition of Jim's gaydar joke in the tag. (And, after watching all the amazing deleted scenes on the season two DVD, I sure hope we get a tag like that every week.)

In the words of yet another "Daily Show" alum, great comedy or greatest comedy?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

My biggest laugh of then ight was Dwight's mock crying at the beginning. At first, i thought he might be actually crying and then when he showed he was joking, it was even funnier.

I also loved Dwight's smirk when Michael asked if he could imagine angela with another woman.

Lot of good Dwight stuff this week. I am just glad it didn't suck in the least.

i was surprised only slightly that Pam called the wedding off and dumped Roy. I really thought she'd be married (just another obstacle for she and Jim to overcome).

Good stuff here!

velvetcannibal said...

I thought this was perfect. Jim and Pam in the background, a hilarious Michael storyline in the foreground... and a mugshot of Roy. Oh. My. God. I laughed so hard.

Nice bit with Pam always looking to Ryan at Jim's desk. There was an episode last year where Ryan sat at Pam's desk and Jim spent the whole day looking for her. I'm a continuity addict.

I was not pleased with Angela. I kind of hated her in this episode. Creed's little interview was hysterical. I loved that Stanley was again simply doing a crossword puzzle during the meeting.

I screamed and laughed through that whole Michael kissing Oscar scene. I think I missed half of it because I was too busy being delighted and repulsed. Awesome. And the lesson of the week: it pays to be gay.

I can't believe I didn't realize how much I've missed this show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Other genius bits:

-Stanley's toaster anecdote, one of those things that is not remotely funny on the page, but that Leslie David Baker made funny;

-Ryan taking a permanent job at Dunder-Mifflin just for the sake of his high school reunion;

-Phyllis is marrying Bob Vance, and she went to high school with Michael ("We thought you were gay!");

-As Velvetcannibal mentioned, Creed's "a guy could have slipped in there" story

Oh, and the NY Times spoiler was wrong, thank goodness.

Adam said...

How do we know that the spoiler is wrong? The spoiler had a few implicit parts -- that Jim had left Scranton, that Pam didn't marry Roy, and that Pam and Jim were to conduct a LDR. It's only the third part we're not sure about now.

Good episode, but how the hell did Toby let that meeting continue?

anon said...

Alan,

Did you see a longer cut of the premiere? Because Chip Esten barely had a line in tonight's episode, so I'm surprised that you could intuit that he was meant to stand in for Patrick Baladi's Neil. Given that the The Office (US) has really managed to distinguish itself from The Office (UK), I would hope that the US crew would come up with something more original -- Neil was basically a straight man in the UK version. Esten's a funny guy, and I'd like to think he had it in him to create his own, personal take on the horrible manager. How else is he going to hold his own against Carrell when the merger comes along?

I also think it was very canny to give Roy such a sincere, sad moment. It moves him beyond jerkwad (a limited entertainment role) to jerkwad who wants to change (a little more entertaining) or even jerkwad who starts doing crazy things for love (potentially much more entertaining). It also gives the writers some scope to use Darryl and Lonnie (Craig "Dink'n Flicka" Robinson and Patrice O'Neal) a little more, which can only be a good thing.

Slightly irrelevant aside: I always thought Baladi's Neil was a false note in the UK version. In a show dedicated to the Peter Principle and the vacuousness of much of office life, the notion that the Swindon office was made up of happy salesmen with a beloved boss seemed absurd and suspicious. I always thought Neil -- who took his middle management paper industry job seriously -- should have come off just as discomfiting as David Brent. After all, the most diabolical thing David Brent did was exactly what Neil tried to do: Offer Tim a promotion (David in the Series 1 finale and Neil in the show finale, if I recall correctly), thereby moving him up along the management chain.

Mostly irrelevant aside: Speaking of Patrick Baladi, why isn't BBC America showing the second season of _Bodies_? Could it be any worse than the hours of Benny Hill programming I'm being subjected to every week?

Anon

Alan Sepinwall said...

Adam, you raise a good point. But as of now, they are not together, and I seriously doubt they hired Peggy Lipton's daughter if they weren't going to put her and Jim together, even briefly. I'm just glad we didn't come back to find that the status quo was exactly what Silverman described to Bill Carter.

Anon, no I didn't see a longer version than anyone else; I watched it live. But Esten did appear in the Valentine's Day episode with the other branch managers. I remember him coming across as fairly competent and smooth at the time, and when they announced he'd be back on a more regular basis, I immediately thought, "Oh, he's the Neil." Again, good-looking guy, runs a branch that, on first impression, appears to run smoothly, plus they're going to need a device to bring Jim back to Scranton sooner or later. Just guessin'.

anon said...

Forgot to mention: I knew Dwight wasn't really pining over Jim in the opening, and yet...how many episodes before Dwight gets a little nostalgic? I mean, Jim's the closest thing he has to a friend, and that includes Michael.

As for genius bits, I'd add Meredith "using" Angela's lotion, and Dwight's karate kick in Oscar's general direction in defense of his woman.

And what's up with Phyllis and Michael having gone to high school together? Along with Ryan's comment, does this suggest there's going to be some high school reunions later this season? Brilliant!

Anon

porter said...

Also loved the bit of Pam and Roy freezing and eating all their wedding food, one godawful reception meal at a time. And Rashida Jones' calling out Jim's mugging for the camera

jim treacher said...

Meredith ate the hand sanitizer for the alcohol in it, right?

Anonymous said...

i thought she did it to mask the booze on her breath. No?

Sandi said...

Was no one skeeved by Dwight blowing his nail clippings onto Ryan (who then "proudly" announced his promotion to full-time employee)? Nice juxtaposition.

bill said...

If by "skeeved" you mean finding common appreciation for maintaining well-groomed nails, then yes, I was "skeeved." If something else, then perhaps not.

I also thought Meredith ate the sanitizer to mask the booze.

MMG said...

The love for continuity continues- I loved how they are calling Jim "Tuna Guy" since he ate a Tuna sandwich his first day at Bizarro Dunder Mifflin. I immediately recalled Ryan's fear at being given a name (i.e. "Crossword Guy" and ultimately "Burnt Bagel Guy") because it would make it seem like he actaully "worked" there. Even better now that he is permanent.
God, how I love this show and the feeling off laughing my butt off- even if it is for only 23 minutes a week or so.

Troy said...

Does anybody know where I can see a free version of last night's premiere online? We had some weather going on last night, so the last 5-10 minutes was given to weather coverage. Ah...meteorologists...

Thanks!

Sandi said...

I am all for well-kept nails, but I don't need to see my co-worker clip his nails at his desk and I certainly wouldn't want his nail clippings laying around on my desk.

Marsha said...

"Chicken or fish?" was perhaps the best line of the night. It worked on so many levels. It was funny at first, but didn't yet reveal what had happened to the wedding. Then the line itself served as your intro to the sad details of Roy and Pam. So well done.

darren said...

Speaking of going to high school together, I am surprised that I haven't seen any mention of the fact that Ed Helms and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin) were classmates in highschool.

As someone who went to their rival high school at the same time, I keep searching my brain to see if there is any chance that I knew either of them.

Alan Sepinwall said...

MMG, it's also a notable continuity reference because, as Ryan pointed out last season, Jim always eats ham and cheese for lunch, which Ryan used as a symbol of how Jim is a guy who hates change. (This was the same episode where he predicted Jim's big vacation would be a trip to Philly -- and speaking of which, did he actually go to Australia?)

Anonymous said...

One more thing... Michael wondering if Oscar's roommate knows he's gay!

jaynee said...

This episode was brilliant on so many levels that I got seriously pissed with my husband when he said it wasn't funny! LOVED IT. A great season opener...