Friday, April 06, 2007

The Office: Not for ladies only

Spoilers for "The Office" coming up just as soon as I prepare for the inevitable deposition...

I don't know. Maybe I was tired, but last night's episode really didn't work for me. There were some isolated funny moments, but almost all of them were in the talking heads: Daryl's "I want him to get the raise... just can't help myself," Jan being just out of frame when Michael talks about having sex with her, Jim's reaction to Dwight and Angela. In the regular action, I laughed long and hard at Ryan and Kelly's arguments (and Toby's suicidal reaction to same), and the shot of Michael bending over to show off how his butt looked in those lady pants.

But a lot of the episode was funnier on paper than it was in execution, one of those things where if I started describing the jokes to my wife (say, Angela getting overheated listening to accounts of the Dwight/Roy takedown) she'd find it more amusing than if she actually watched. And it's not because I'm such a great joke-describer; it's that the ideas were good but fell flat for some reason. Maybe this was a rare case of the super-size approach backfiring, the jokes getting too much room to breathe, I don't know. Or maybe I just should have sacked out early and watched it today. Sigh...

Some more specific thoughts:
  • "User Jennifer Hudson Kapoor." "Don't you see why that's insane?" "So I'm crazy now?"
  • Of course Angela was going to get excited by that story. Not only did it involve Dwight being a hero, but it involved Dwight taking out Roy, the only other man at the office she's ever been attracted to.
  • Just when Jim and Karen seemed to be clicking better in the pre-fight conversation, she has to go and blow all goodwill by completely dismissing Jim's concern about giving Dwight a gift. That's the sort of thing that, in the old days, would have led to an hourlong Jim/Pam brainstorming session.
  • From a personal relationship standpoint, two great scenes: Pam trying to reach out to a Jim who's still too hurt to listen, and Jan sending Toby out of the room so she can find out what's really wrong with Michael. She knows him too well ("What did I tell you about 'yeppers'?"), and that was a nice moment between them.
  • Creed the klepto callback, as he returns the 40 bucks he stole (either in cash or office supplies) from Michael.
  • UPDATE: Forgot to mention, what's up with this current wave of primetime gender-bending? First we had that bizarre drag king photoshoot on last week's Next Top Model, then tonight we had Michael in lady clothes and Pete and Liz on "30 Rock" dressing alike. And was I the only one who, for half a second, assumed that Michael just pulled one of Jan's suits out of the closet by mistake, and that the punchline would be her wearing one of his? (Then I realized that A)Jan's much skinnier than Michael, and B)She's actually observant enough to notice when the buttons are on the wrong side, and why.)
What did everybody else think? I imagine I'm in for a lot of people telling me I'm being way too harsh, and that it's just good to have a new episode for the first time in weeks.

40 comments:

Cheesesteak said...

I thought after that first scene, possibly after the long drought of Office, that Dwight is my new friend but as the episode progressed I was reminded how he is just a little bit insane.

In general I enjoyed it. It's really hard to watch Pam at this point because you know that now she feels that she's hit rock-bottom. And she has.

I'm interested in how the arc is going to progress for the remainder of the season. I keep hoping that Karen will get hit by a bus, Abrams-style, but it's not going to happen.

Tom G said...

The line of the night: "I accidentally cross-dressed."

Carl said...

You're still obviously on your 30 Rock-renewal high, and I can't blame you. Last night's episode of The Office proves that the show has peaked. What we've seen in the last 2.5+ years is as good as it's going to get for Steve Carrell & co.

Russ said...

I do think you're being a _little_ harsh. I might just be too easy to please, though. Some things I liked:

-Jim's "hey man, no problem" body-language response to Roy's apology was perfect.

-Michael's plaintive reminder that he and Jan were "lovers" made me laught out loud.

-Michael's so incompetent that he can't even ask for 15% and needs to be instructed by Jan. (Did this scene remind anyone else of the old Abbott and Costello restaurant bit?)

-Darryl's outright contempt for Michael was great too: Not only is Michael an effete white-collar type who wears women's clothes, he also fails to enjoy the financial upside one might expect; from Darryl's perspective, Michael really has nothing on him.

-Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...
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Alan Sepinwall said...

Dude, if I haven't done a post on something, chances are it's because I haven't watched it yet. Save the "Scrubs" spoilers for when I write a "Scrubs" post.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Sorry, Alan!

Andrew said...

Michael's enthusiasm about Wikipedia was a lot of fun.

I'm not sure if this episode wouldn't have worked better as a regular 30 minute episode. Of course, to be a 30 minute episode, the Toby stuff might have been cut, which really made the entire show.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you were being too harsh. This episode had some geniune funny moments, but as a whole I was kind of meh about it.

I agree that the Usher Jennifer Hudson Kapoor argument between Ryan and Kelly was hilarious, but I admit to being a little disturbed to show them making out in the background during Toby's talking head.

I get that there's got to be a reason why Ryan is still dating her when all signs point to he can't stand her, but this was a little too much for a quick laugh.

Robin said...

Alan, I think I found last night's episode funnier than you did, but I can see where people are coming from in saying that The Office isn't quite hitting its mark this season.

I've found myself laughing out loud more at 30 Rock (yea for renewal!), but I CARE more about The Office. I love the characters much more, even Angela and Dwight seem like real people now and not just joke punchlines. I think that is the real strength of The Office--it's a character drama disguised as a half hour comedy.

Clifton Smalls said...

Maybe this was discussed during the last run of super-sized episodes, but how much more content did they show in 42 minutes as opposed to the regular 30? I know it wasn't just another 12 minutes of commercials, but the commercial/content ratio felt quite off.

Anonymous said...

i thought it was one of the high points of the season. I don't think the show is peaking in the sense that it's all downhil lfrom here. I hope there are A LOT more peaks, since it just got renewed for the 4th season.

MMg said...

I thought the best parts were with Toby having to endure Ryan and Kelly.
I am TiVo-less... did anyone else hear Kelly telling Ryan something to the effect of "Next time you call me in the middle of the night because you think there is a murderer in your house..."?

Abbie said...

Yes, mmg, that happened. Watch with the captions on- you'll be surprised at how much you're missing! But, yes, apparently Ryan calls Kelly in the middle of the night because he's afraid that a man's in his apartment, about to kill him. And Kelly calls Ryan in the middle of the night to tell him she loves him.

I really liked seeing that Ryan wasn't just "trapped" by Kelly, that he is slightly nuts as well and that they have some very intense make up sessions.

I don't know what y'all are talking about! I thought the episode was great! I had to pause my TiVo multiple times so as not to miss anything because I was laughing too hard.

Sure, I'm a little sick of the Pam/Jim drama, but I feel like we're headed towards another good season finale, so I'm willing to suck it up. But I thought the Angela stuff worked, and I thought the Darryl stuff worked. I wasn't terribly keen on the Michael-wearing-women's-clothes thing, but maybe that hit a little too close to home.

Both 30 Rock and The Office were excellent last night.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I wasn't terribly keen on the Michael-wearing-women's-clothes thing, but maybe that hit a little too close to home.

So have you accidentally cross-dressed, or someone you love?

Todd VanDerWerff said...

For me, the opening scene felt so out-of-place and wacky that it cast a pall over the rest of the episode. I get that Roy's been unstable before, but his sudden turn to violence seems a little forced -- obviously the point in the will-they/won't-they where we start to see the "wrongness" of the two non-regulars (though technically Roy's a regular).

Plus, I mean, it was an attempted assault, and you can't just go from there to negotiations with Darryl, though the commercial break helped in that regard (I watched live).

Cheesesteak said...

The nice thing about a woman wearing man's clothes is that she won't be called on it, except for possibly being bi-curious.

Abbie said...

Liz Lemon sharing time:
My clueless-geek ex-boyfriend pulled the wrong pair of jeans out of the dryer one morning, put them on, and wore them to work. I only noticed when I thought, "Why is he wearing flared pants?" Then I was totally humiliated that he could fit into my pants.

It's not the whole reason we broke up, but it certainly didn't help.

I'm married to a woman now, so no more worries on that account!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Thanks for the confessional, Abbie. And that's exactly why I assumed at first that Michael was wearing something of Jan's.

The nice thing about a woman wearing man's clothes is that she won't be called on it, except for possibly being bi-curious.

Well, Michael did complain about Karen's fondness for masculine pantsuits a few episodes ago. In fact, her look was arguably butcher than his last night.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, Todd reminded me of something I neglected to mention earlier: Is this the beginning of the end of David Denman's regular role on the show? Even if Pam and Roy broke up for good, he still provided some ongoing value as one of the warehouse guys, but how can they continue to include him weekly if he's been both dumped and fired? Will Bob Vance hook him up?

Benaiah said...

I don't think it is out of the question that he will be rehired. I hope that he stays on the show, because he is a solid actor and brings a lot of interesting baggage into the Jim and Pam arena. That said, the cast is sprawling, and if they are going to keep so many regulars on the payroll, they might have to eventually kick a few lesser people to the curb. In other words, maybe losing Roy will mean keeping Karen (I really like Karen... and Rashida Jones for that matter).

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Benaiah, don't read this if you don't want to know spoilers, but Rashida Jones is in a pilot for another network next year.

So I'm guessing they don't keep her. Then again, of course, the pilot could be not picked up.

Benaiah said...

Todd, I saw that. However, she talks to TV Guide about how many people do two shows and how tough it would be to leave "the Office". Plus, how many pilots get picked up? It isn't like she is suddenly going to be a regular on an established show. My point being, I don't think her being on that pilot means she is off the show.

Link to TV Guide article.
http://tinyurl.com/ypmvu7

Anonymous said...

If they're gonna got anyone it needs to be Meredith. She barely ever gets lines and even with an extended episode all we got was a 2 second glimpse of her looking horrified in the show's closing moments.

I'm sure Kate Flannery is a great person, but she's become a glorified extra.

Russ said...

By the way, isn't it also hilarious that Michael buys his suits from a "bin"?

Anonymous said...

got=cut

excuse the brain fart

james said...

I don't know why, but I found the episode pretty lacking. Maybe because a big part of the plot was based on the fact that Michael 1)makes about the same amount of money as Darryl and 2)didn't know how underpaid he was relative to the rest of the office.

Has anyone worked at an office where the boss didn't know what everyone makes? I just couldn't buy any of that angle.

Jill said...

I loved this episode. It wasn't on par with something like, say, THE INJURY or one of the other gems from season 2, but it was much stronger than a lot of what we've seen this season. I thought it played much better than the extended Christmas episode, which felt overly padded at times (the karaoke bit got old quick, yet they kept shoving it in there).

We had some nice Michael/Jan stuff, awesome Ryan/Kelly scenes, great Toby stuff, hilarious Daryl scenes and some interesting plot development. I thought the Wikipedia stuff and the negotiating scenes were hilarious, as was the whole "I accidentally cross-dressed." The only thing that didn't win me over was the Pam/Jim stuff and the Angela/Dwight stuff (other than Creed's ridiculous recounting of the incident, I was bored hearing it over and over again).

And I agree with the other poster -- something felt WAY off about the commercial/show ratio. I may be remembering this wrong, but it seemed that my TiVo showed there was something like 7 minutes left after the last scene aired. (They came back with the Andy Bernard bit and the closing credits, but we had a hefty commercial break in-between.)

Cheesesteak said...

I just had an idea!

I've been bothered by Karen's "sell paper so we can go on a trip," line. First, it seemed a little dismissive and also it was kind of random. Now my brain just nearly exploded by the idea that they do go on a vacation together and it ruins their relationship.

Or I believe I'll categorize it under my "wishful thinking" file.

Kat said...

I really am just sick of Karen. Not necessarily because I'm Super Into! Jim and Pam, but she does nothing for me. She can be funny, but a lot of the time she comes off as boring, dry, or stiff, in my opinion.

It was great to finally get a new episode, but it wasn't the best. I agree with what you pointed out as funny in your post. And I must be the only Office fan who thinks this way, but I don't like the supersized episodes. The only one that worked for me was Casino Night. I thought Benihana Christmas was way too long.

But I love that Andy's back!

Dennis Wilson said...

To Todd and Benaiah:

If Rashida Jones's pilot is picked up and not recast, she will have to leave The Office cast, at least as a weekly regular (if she hasn't been written out of The Office at the end of this season already).

But the writers still have about two months before they have to start finalizing their plans for the characters for next season, so there's plenty of flexibility there.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I thought the suit stuff and the toby/ryan/kelly scenes were really funny.... I liked when Michael called him "Stupid Toby" like an 8 year old.

dan said...

The best talking head was by far Toby pondering whether or not Michael was a "genius" by punishing him by putting Ryan and Kelly together.

I think it would be hilarious if Roy went to work for Vance Refrigeration.

Jim's double shock of seeing Dwight/Angela and then when he turned to realize the camera was behind him was fantastic. His expression in the bathroom was priceless.

I also found it humorous hearing Kelly take a Customer Service call. I'm sure they could do a whole episode with those calls.

My favorite line was "Not a disgruntled employee. Everyone here is extremely gruntled."; It reminded me of the Convention when Jan said that she underestimated Michael, and Michael quipped, well maybe next time you will estimate me.

Anonymous said...

I liked the way Darryl (sp?) was making fun of Michael and sending pictures of him in his lady clothes at the exact same time he was asking for a raise. That takes some nerve.

J said...

I really liked the opening. Big attention grabber, the pepper spray was hilarious (as was the follow-up, "Who's laughing now?"), and the show coda was perfect.

A little long, and I can see why folks are switching from Team Pam to Team Karen.

It was awesome how everyone on Scrubs turned out to be a dead Cyclon.

bebe said...

On iTunes, The Negotiation is 29:27.

Alanna said...

I also noticed the excessive commercials, so I took out my calculator and compared the iTunes and TiVo listings. The average episode is 21 minutes of show in a 30 minute slot (70%). Last night's was 29/44 (66%). For what it's worth, last night's 30 Rock was at 67%.

NBC ran a lot of extended-length promos for its other shows -- the "Meet Liz Lemon" one during The Office felt like nearly a minute -- which is probably why the commercial breaks felt so much longer than they technically were.

lambertman said...

I thought kelly had the line of the night off-screen with "Okay, it says here you ordered twelve thousand reams of paper?.... oh, twelve reams -- "

Medinar said...

Re Rashida Jones and whether she can do a pilot and continue with The Office... I remember when they announced that Ed Helms (Andy) was bumped up to regular status, Variety reported that Jones was continuing at her status (guest starring) I interpret that as producers will be bumping her. She's not here for the long haul.

My two cents.

ZeppJets said...

If I am correct, this is the episode where Darryl can be heard saying "mothafuckas" when he is sending out a photo-message of Michael in the suit ("some mothafuckas gotta see this"). I'm almost positive this has not been edited out or bleeped in the original NBC broadcast or reruns on TBS. Anyone know different?