Spoilers for "The Office" and "Scrubs" coming up just as soon as I wave to my girlfriend...
So "The Office" is back to 30-minute episodes and all should be okay with the world, right? Not so fast. I hope I can stop writing about the damn length issue soon, but they're making it awfully hard, first with those episodes that petered out a little more than halfway through, and now with a regular-size episode that was so busy and oddly paced that it felt like it had been planned as a one-hour and cut down at the last minute.
Unlike some previous episodes, the problem wasn't Michael acting out of character. His desire to prove his creative chops with the commercial made this a quintessential Michael Scott story. I just don't think the execution worked, in part because it kept bumping up against the Dwight and Andy subplot, and the semi-related stories about Dwight and then Jim getting too involved in Second Life. The commercial plot could have easily taken up the entire episode, which would have still given everybody something to do while expanding on the process of making the thing and the bumps along the way. Both of Daryl's songs were great, but I would have loved to see Daryl, Andy, Kevin and Creed (all of them with some kind of musical experience) butting heads over who'd get to lead that portion of the task, and the entire production felt rushed. Even the climax, in which we discovered that Michael had made a pretty good commercial, after all -- especially given the time constraints -- didn't get enough chance to breathe; the episode just kind of stopped. There was a chance to do an ending similar to Michael and Pam at the art show in "Business School," but there just wasn't enough time.
Which isn't to say that I've done an about-face and am now pining for the days of the hour-long episodes. I just feel that all the stuff with Dwight, Andy and Jim -- while offering up some nice moments like Dwight and Andy's joyous reaction to Angela screaming, "Oh, D!" or Pam realizing how much time was spent in crafting Philly Jim -- could have been cut (or moved to a different episode) to help make the A-story better.
I mostly said my fill on "Scrubs" in this morning's column. I still wish the writers could take a mulligan on the Kim pregnancy story, but at least I'm glad that the Elliot/J.D. cliffhanger didn't immediately turn into another installment of will-they-or-won't-they?, since we all know by now that they shouldn't. There were some funny bits -- I especially liked Kelso smelling Turk's egg-sweat, and Janitor explaining that his girlfriend Lady has "a brother named Him" -- but the show has done a lot of the other jokes before, and better (the list of J.D.'s exes, Dr. Beard-fah-say).
What did everybody else think?