Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Office: SHUT UP, ANGELA!

Spoilers for "The Office" just as soon as I reorganize my pantaloon drawer...

First order of business, at least here in the Sepinwall household: We need a ruling on the scene where Dwight asks Jim whether he wants a brunette or redhead stripper and, as Karen and Pam crane their necks to listen, he says, "Blonde." My interpretation: Pam has red highlights, ergo, Jim was pulling an Archie Andrews and trying to avoid offending either of his ladies by picking one of them. Marian's interpretation: Pam has blonde highlights, ergo he was picking Pam. So which one of us is colorblind? Go.

A very funny episode, though I think I may have blacked out there for a minute or two during Michael's lapdance. How he is able to not horrify Jan every single second they're together in bed, I have no idea, but the man should not be allowed around women. (One of many genius moments of the night: the look of terror on Pam's face when she realized Michael wanted her to be his bra model, followed quickly by Dwight in a bra.)

Mindy Kaling really knows how to involve everyone in her scripts. Hell, even Meredith had a great line tonight, and I had all but given up on poor Kate Flannery getting something funny to do this season. (She barely even pops up in the deleted scenes on-line.) Kevin got to remind us of his poker expertise, then drool over the stripper, Angela got tipsy (and hung-over in record time). Stanley had his business with the cheap cutlery, followed by Creed eating with his hands, and Roy made his latest attempt to get back in Pam's bed/good graces: "It's very moving... and sexy... the art."

(Speaking of which, I again wonder about when/where the documentary is airing. If it's already available anywhere domestically -- even via illegal internet download -- Michael would be fired by now and Kelly would be spending all day every day scouring message boards for posts about her and Ryan. But if it's still unseen, why is Roy bothering to suck up to Pam in a talking head?)

This episode also had more continuity than usual: in addition to Kevin's poker skillz, the dreaded baby poster reared its ugly head again, and, of course, the Foreman Grill from "The Injury" survives -- thankfully, after Michael "got all the foot off of it." Good stuff.

Interesting how, once again, Pam and Karen are inclined to team up, JAM-style, to get through the day, only to have their fun ruined by the shadow that Jim casts on their tentative friendship. The writers on this show have such a good ear for how the wrong thing said at the wrong moment can completely derail a conversation, the way Pam saying "Good night" to Ryan in "The Initiation" inadvertently ended her phone call with Jim, or here the way Pam, desperate for something to fill the awkward silence, says "I'm sorry" and immediately threatens whatever detente she and Karen just reached. It's a shame that Karen is so obviously on her way out the door, because I like her. I understand that she's involved in a significant ongoing plot, but if the show can have room for Dwight and Andy (Ed Helms just got made a regular), isn't there some way, somehow, that Pam and Karen can co-exist for a while longer? They make a nice duo.

Other random thoughts:
  • Even without Meredith's outburst to establish the general mood, I would have to say that was pretty lame of Jim to go and ruin the ladies' fun just to spite Michael. Meredith, Kelly and Phyllis -- whose party it was, after all -- all looked so excited for the arrival of the stripper, and so disappointed by the arrival of faux-Franklin.
  • In the "30 Rock" review, I noted the similarity between the Paul Reubens character and Martin Short's guest appearance on "Arrested Development." So much of Michael's dialogue in this episode -- particularly the "hourlong shower with guys" and all the "man meat" talk -- reminded me of another element from that same episode: Michael Bluth suggesting that Tobias start tape-recording himself in order to recognize when he's being such a, um, blowhard.
  • Whenever Dave Koechner shows up for an episode, I can never decide whether I want more of him, or if that's just the right amount of Packer. I think tonight was the right amount.
  • Was there anything in the sex shop that wasn't pixellated? My eyes hurt just looking at the screen during that scene.
  • So is faux-Franklin a Canadian? His name's Gordon, and I'm pretty sure there's a law banning that name on our side of the border.
  • Lovely exchange between Pam and the stripper, both Pam's "I lose my appetite all the time" and her deciding to take the stripper's compliment as such.
  • Is it my imagination, or haven't we seen Karen in skirts before, including post-merger?
  • "Jennifer Garner portrayed (a stripper) on 'Alias.' It was one of her many aliases."
What did everybody else think?

20 comments:

Luna said...

Pam's got reddish hair, I think your interpretation was correct.

I liked just about everything about this episode except that I wonder where Toby was when all the stripper-hiring was going on.

Oh, and I suppose it could be possible that Roy is sucking up because he knows the cameramen will do the same interview-type thing with Pam and maybe they'll tell her what he said? But either way, I found it really touching that he actually got up and left when the striptease was going on while even Jim just sat there.

Also, I need never to see Dwight in a bra again.

nfiledr said...

Anyone else notice how red Roy's eyes
were in his interview? It looked like
he had been crying... or that he was
out in the parking lot "burning one".

bebe said...

I agree with your interpretation of the hair color thing. I actually felt it was somewhat contrived that the two choices would be brunette and redhead (as opposed to blond and brunette or blond and redhead) when we're talking about strippers. But still funny when the camera pulled back and you saw just the end bit of the two ladies' heads swiveling back to their computers. Also, they just wouldn't let Jim "pick Pam" in that sense while he and Karen are still together.

Kristin said...

I am really hoping Karen sticks around so she can date Roy...Pam has her 'fall back' in that Roy still holds a torch for her. With him taken away by office rival Karen (perhaps without her knowing about Pam/Roy engagement), it would create a lot of tension and interest. Especially if Roy and Karen end up being perfect for each other...

I probably am completely wrong on this, but a girl can dream....

I interpreted Jim's ordering a Ben Franklin for the party as a way for him to help out his lady friends. I think Meredith was the only one who was excited about a male stripper. Or, he didn't like the idea of a male stripper from "Banana Slings" taking it off in front of Pam (or Karen).

Anonymous said...

I thought this was an unusually weak episode. The only moments that really worked for me were Meredith's "Shut up, Angela" (mostly because it's the first time Kate Flannery has gotten a line in like a year and a half, so to have it be something so loud and forceful was hysterical) and the stripper complimenting Angela's poster.

I also felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in this episode. Namely, where the heck were Andy (can you imagine his reaction to the stripper) and Oscar (who Michael probably would have made incredibly uncomfortable in his attempts to include him with the rest of the guys.)

Anonymous said...

I have never laughed harder at a TV show then when Dwight shouted with glee, "I do! I want some of your man meat!" or something to that effect. I rewatched that about 5 times.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who played Ben Franklin?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Alan about the red vs brunette comment. Actually, I said the same thing to my wife, and she didn't agree. Maybe it's a gender thing?

I also enjoyed Dwight's devilish smile when he said "blond" into the phone. No doubt he was thinking about Angela.

Anonymous said...

Pam is absolutely the redhead. No question.

-vcannibal

Jim Teacher said...

I agree with your wife on this one. I just can't imagine Jim beign cognizant of what he was saying in that situation, or that the girls are paying attention to his answer.

Also, is it part of the joke on this show that every episode there seems to be an office party? Mind you, I haven't watched a ton of the U.S version, but it seemed like there were more actual "work" scenarios in the Brit one. Maybe a commentary on American office life?

Anonymous said...

Andrew Daly played Ben Franklin. He's a comedian who can be seen a lot at the UCB theater in LA. I think he's also a former cast member of MADTV, but don't hold me to that.

Scott said...

solid episode all around, though I did feel like the stripper scenes jumped forward too quickly - they didn't have enough time to do everything again.

Deleted scene on NBC.com has Darrell, who was sadly missing from this episode.

(P.S. If you've never watched Lazy Scranton on NBC.com, it's worth watching, not least because Rainn Wilson is awesome in it.)

caitie said...

Pam is definitely a red-head, as in she isn't the least bit blond at all. So Jim was just sidestepping the question.

I also loved the Alias line thrown in there.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree that for the purpose of this episode, Pam is a redhead. You can tell by both of their reaction shots, where Pam and Karen both just kind of glare quickly at each other after Jim picks a blond.

I actually think Roy's "art is sexy" talking head was about showing how Roy is still the lovesick guy who got all shaggy and crazy and arrested after Pam called off the wedding. There was also a really quick shot of him wiping away a tear and stalking off when the stripper showed up.

At first viewing, I thought it was just a so-so episode, but I loved it on the second viewing. The subtle interactions between Jim, Pam, and Karen were especially good.

Anonymous said...

That was Andrew Daly, formerly of MAD TV, as Ben Franklin. I thought he was hilarious, and it was great to see him used in a great show -- it feels like on MAD TV they keep relying on their big, stupid characters (the grown man child, the Midwest lady who coughed all the time) when they should have used their subtle, great actors more -- like Stephanie Weir (the wedding planner on "Big Day.")

Jaynee said...

I agree that a second viewing made this episode a bit more enjoyable. I didn't realize how many funny lines I missed the first time around (I loved Ryan's comment in the sex shop that was something like "We haven't bought anything yet - the first ten minutes were him just giggling." I totally missed that the first time around because I was laughing over the pixelation!

Kate said...

I agree with your interpretation--Jim picked blond to avoid picking either red OR brown. And I do think that Jim would be cognizant of that choice and of having both Pam and Karen watching him.

I also thought Roy was talking more to the documentary team than hoping Pam would watch the footage. They've demonstrated pretty clearly that Pam (and Jim) have a relationship with the documentary team--most explicitly when Pam and the team found out about Dwight and Angela. I've always wondered how (or if) the other characters respond to that situation. Roy could essentially be sucking up to Pam through the crew . . .

Alan Sepinwall said...

I interpreted Jim's ordering a Ben Franklin for the party as a way for him to help out his lady friends. I think Meredith was the only one who was excited about a male stripper.

In rewatching the episode yesterday, I saw that the only women who weren't excited about the stripper were Pam and Angela. Even Karen was practically giddy before Ben Franklin walked in. So the only lady friend Jim helped out was Pam. Hmmm...

Also, on second viewing, I revised my opinion of the scene with Pam and the stripper; her "thank you" was almost entirely mortified and not in any way flattered.

Dennis Wilson said...

This was the 15th episode of the season already? That means there are only seven more original episodes until September!

CJ said...

Alan: I agree with your interpretation of the "blonde" comment - Jim knew that both Pam and Karen could hear him and he chose "blonde" so that nobody would read anything into his choice. (Imho, Pam's hair is "reddish" if not actually red, but it certainly isn't blonde.) And I'm female, fwiw.

I also like Karen and want her to stay. Pam could use a gal pal in the Office, but Jim is always going to be between them, so it's hard to imagine Karen sticking around once the (inevitable) breakup happens.