Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Office, "Job Fair": I've got blisters on my fingers!!!!!

Spoilers for "The Office" coming up just as soon as I find out if Pumpkin's in or out...

I'm gonna be quick, because there's a lot of TV on tonight and "Job Fair" isn't worth spending much time on. It's the first real dud of the post-strike batch: flat, not particularly funny, and depicting Michael at his most abrasive, clueless and unappealing levels.

The ideas were fine. Jim being frightened into applying himself for the first time has potential -- though, of course, you have to ignore the fact that he was once doing well enough within the company that he was named Josh's number two in Stamford, and would have been promoted right along with Josh in the restructuring that was going to close Scranton -- but the storyline was mainly an excuse for cheap physical comedy with Ed Helms (though I'll admit to chuckling at the golf cart crash) and to attempt to mine more comedy from Kevin's gambling problem. (I'd say the law of diminishing returns has hit that particular running gag.) If Jim had come up with a particularly creative way to land the client, I might have forgiven the story's lack of big laughs, but instead Jim resorted to the Michael/Dwight school of simply refusing to take no for an answer in the bluntest way possible. I suppose there's some thematic point to that -- Jim has to become more like the people he hates to survive, just as Michael makes himself feel better about his life by noting that cool guy Jim wants to have that same life -- but it didn't really come across.

Michael at the job fair, meanwhile, was one long cringe-fest. They've played the note before of Michael desperately trying to assert the relevance of both himself and his profession (see "Business School," for instance). It's an intrinsic enough part of the character that they could have gone to that well again, but Michael spent most of the episode being cruel rather than clumsy. His treatment of Justin -- who I'm sure closely resembles the high school age Michael Scott -- was ugly, and his treatment of Pam even uglier. I could see David Brent behaving this way (though he'd have much snappier dialogue while being such an ass), but this didn't fit Michael's particular brand of oblivious boorishness. I get that they're trying to push us in a direction where Jim finally starts to commit to Dunder-Mifflin at the exact moment where Pam is being driven away (hence the scene at the end about graphic design), but regular-strength Michael Scott would be more than enough to do the trick, and it would no doubt be funnier to watch.

What did everybody else think? And is everyone else as psyched as I am to see Amy Ryan in the finale next week?

36 comments:

Alex said...

I didn't love it; it felt very flat to me. I find Michael to be so grating these days, like he has only 1 mode. Above all, I was annoyed that Pam just kept grabbing 1 sheet of paper, even at the school and when she went back to DM. I know she was being all passive aggressive but I didn't like it from a content standpoint.

Hoping for goodness next week!

Grunt said...

Like last week, there were a few lovely elements but as a whole it didn't mesh for me. I think they're dumbing down Michael to an insane degree and it's unpleasant.

I loved the Dwight/Angela scenes and half expected the closing scene to be them making out in the Trans-am. I also really liked the "I like you" from Jim. Just a good line.

Abbie said...

I thought the fake-out in the art room was going to lead to something bigger.

Yay, Amy Ryan! After that shout-out to 'The Wire' a couple of weeks ago!

Nicole said...

Was the actor who played the graphic design guy actually John Krasinski in disguise? There was something familiar about him.

Anonymous said...

I'm so immature -- the only real belly laugh was when Andy Bernard flipped his golf cart...LOL.

I giggled some during this -- but mostly I just cringed at Michael -- he's been awfully cringe-worthy lately...

the Stanfield Org. said...

Alan-
Agree 100%- Office has been a lot better since the return, but the ed helms cart crash was the only real laugh I got from the entire episode. Darrell in particular was wasted in the job fair scenes, and there was nothing there remotely funny, which for the most part also failed to progress in any way the overall series storyline. The golf storyline also fell flat. Hoping we have a good episode next week, and that the past few weeks were not merely a positive creative post-strike blip before a return to the general mediocrity that marked the start of season 4.

Anthony Foglia said...

Weak.

I was a bit thrown by the fact Kelly and Daryl are still dating. I don't remember them breaking up, but one of the commenters in last week's post claimed they did, so I figured I forgot. That, especially coming after that out-of-order "Scrubs", made me wonder if I fell into a wormhole to the past.

The high school student looked very familiar. I just remembered, and IMDB confirmed, he was on "Sons & Daughters." And before that, he was Frasier's son Fredrick. The graphic designer had a stunt-casting feel, but I don't recognize the person. Maybe an actual graphics designer who works on the show?

Mike said...

Overall not the funniest episode ever and I didn't like the office staff leaving (seemingly very) early, although I'm sure they were just setting up the Dwight/Angela reconciliation.

I did have one left after Michael insulted Pam and she left the table where he says, "I'd never tell her this, but she's a great person and a talented artist." and Oscars exasperated "WHY would you never tell her that?"

Unlike a previous poster I think it did advance the storyline. We got further evidence that Ryans vendetta against Jim is still happening. Dwight and Angela are about ready to make-up and .... well I guess that was about it.

P "N" K said...

I have to say I really enjoyed this episode, but then again I absolutely love to golf, so there's a clear bias. Andy's blisters after 1200 range balls almost killed me.

renton said...

When I visit my father in law, he makes me hit three large buckets of golf balls on the driving range.

The first time I did it without gloves, it looked exactly like Andy's hands.

I agree, weak episode, other than Stanley walking out on Dwight. They're sure having to hide Angela, aren't they?

par3182 said...

The only thing that amused me was the amount of things they had Angela stand behind.

Oh, and Creed's "Hiya Pumpkin"

well read hostess said...

I'm a sucker for any pam/jim interaction...can't help it. So the ending worked for me! I agree about the Michael-at-his-worst stuff. I thought the way Pam conveyed vulnerability and hope in the graphic design job scene was really sweet.

txcaddyking said...

Michael taking the basketball from Oscar/Darrell and punting was the only time I laughed other than the Andy/Golf cart incident.
I do agree that this moved the story along though and is probably just setup for the finale.
And would a company not have their HR rep at a job fair?

KLE said...

Pure conjecture... Ryan crashes and burns and ends up back in Scranton. Jim has upped his game enough to get Ryan's job in NY. Pam gets into one of those programs for graphic design in NY. Jim finally proposes properly, and voila: The Spinoff.

Kristin said...

I was the one who thought Darryl & Kelly had broken up. After the ping-pong episode...? I don't remember why I thought that...but why they aren't mining that relationship for comedy gold is beyond me. There has been a seriously lack of ditzy Kelly moments...I need more!

My favorite line of the night...when they were all going to go home early and Dwight protested. Creed says, "I finished all my work months ago."

I thought it was actually pretty good. The blisters, the crashing golf cart, Michael's terrible comments around Pam. What made this one work, though, was not so much the humor, but advancing stories. Jim's worrying about his job b/c of his future plans with Pam. Dwight & Angela perhaps on the road to reconciliation. Pam applying for a graphic design position at the end.

I'm wondering if this was sort of a mish-mash due to the writers' strike. Having to advance stories to a certain point for the season finale, but having less time to do so.

Just a thought.

Cat Pick said...

I was in a foul mood last night so I blame that for completely losing it when Andy's golf cart crashed. I'm not usually a particular fan of physical comedy, but Ed Helms' posture and voice and demeanor were so perfect that tears were rolling down my face. "I fell in the sand trap!" I made my husband rewind it three times and it only got funnier.

Also being a big fan of PB&J, I loved the cell phone call on the links and Jim going for the big kiss at the end. Just a couple of sweet little intimate moments between them.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those shows that (creatively) shouldn't have went past 2 seasons. There's only so much mileage one can wring out of a mundane workplace. The first 2 seasons did it brillantly. Sadly "The Office" is now a combination soap opera/cartoon. The spinoff? "Let sleeping dogs lie".

dronkmunk said...

"Kiss her. Kiss her good." The range of emotions in Pam's face had me dying.

Allison said...

The high school student looked very familiar. I just remembered, and IMDB confirmed...he was Frasier's son Fredrick.

omg, THANK YOU, that was driving me crazy.

I hated that Michael's being a dick at the job fair had no payoff--even the cringetastic "Phyllis' Wedding" had a sweet moment at the end, but this one was painful.

Also, the Jim and Pam stuff was good because it takes them a step beyond being Tim and Dawn--great, they're together, now their challenge is getting away from Dunder-Mifflin.

Michael 8-) said...

Have to agree with most folks. Weak episode, only saved by the advancement of a few storylines.

My favorite line, though, by Michael as they prepped for the job fair. "I'm going to youth-anize this office!"

Anonymous said...

Was the actor who played the graphic design guy actually John Krasinski in disguise? There was something familiar about him.

I thought he sounded a lot like John Krasinski (not only the same voice, but the same speech rhythms), though I couldn't discern any facial resemblance.

TomV-Piscataway said...

I thought overall it was a weak episode, but it was planting a few plotlines for later growth. So to speak.

I thought that Michael, a guy that has about 100 trinkets in his office, and dundees, etc. would have at least had some kind of item to give out at the open house. A keychain with his picture on it perhaps? A goofy game?

I like when Darryl asked him if he went to college.

I agree with another poster - more Kelly...

barefootjim said...

It kinda felt like "The Office by Numbers"
Michael rejecting an ugly person? Check.
Dwight trying (and failing) to assert his authority? Check.
Pam's artistic aspirations being thwarted? Check.
Jim passively-aggressively managing his current situation? Check.

And I never understood why Kevin and Andy would even be on the golf outing trip. Especially Kevin. It seemed contrived simply to set up their "wacky hijinx." (Though, the sandtrap thing was funny.)

It got to the point to where when I saw the woman speaking into the microphone at the end, I said: "Here comes Michael's big, embarrassing speech."

I guess that they can't all be winners.

KittyMama said...

I'm finding Pam's character increasingly frustrating. Remember in "Beach Games" she said she was going to be more honest, implying that she would tell people what was on her mind and attempt to stand up for herself more. While she has exhibited this in her relationship(s) with Roy and Jim, it has not transferred to her work environment at Dunder Mifflin.

The show reminds us that Pam's continued beautification is supposed to instill a sense of self-confidence. Pam confronted Rashida Jones' character after "Beach Games" and didn't apologize for her honesty. she vehemently corrected Jan when asked if she ever dated Michael, and I was glad to see Pam in that light. But in her direct contact with Michael, the uber-man wannabe--his misogyny, his comments week after week about her boobs and hotness (except with the librarian glasses last week)--she is still the shrinking violet behind the desk answering phones. I don't know if she chooses not to indulge Michael's comments by taking the high road every time or if she just doesn't have the nerve. I want more for her character here.

Anonymous said...

While I got some chuckles out of the episode, the highlight once again is the range of emotion that Jenna Fisher can emit without saying a word...the joy she showed when Jim told her he closed the account reminded me of last year's finale, when he popped in during her talking head and asked her out...that smile she gave the camera still stays with me, and she continuously conveys her emotions via glances during the episodes...last night was another example. She is a great actress, and I really hope PB&J happens happily ever after, and the writers figure out a way to keep things lively even with the 2 of them content.

Anonymous said...

I thought the saddest thing in this episode and maybe for the season was Pam going into her old art room. Michael has always been crazy enough that he's hardly based in realtiy. Pam's character has always rang pretty true but was some how delusional enough to think that after a decade her art project would still be on the wall. She thought for a split second, "Oh, wait I can show you that I actually was/am good at something" only to have her dream crushed just as quickly.

Evie Garland said...

KLE: I'm with you, everything is pointing to a Pam/Jim spin-off! I just hope it isn't a lame young people with friends hang out in NYC kinda thing--we already have enough of those....

Greg with one G said...

And is everyone else as psyched as I am to see Amy Ryan in the finale next week?

I did not know that. Is that a spoiler..?

LOVED the cart crash. I also love that the writers make me actually cringe... and curl my legs bite my lip and say out loud "don't say it Michael don't do it stay away from the mic." Not the strongest show but a keeper nonetheless.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Re: the spin-off, all the rumors are pointing to Ed Helms as Andy. Plus, other than Michael, I would argue that Jim and Pam are the two most indispensable characters on the show. Their presence balances out a lot of other things -- specifically, the way Michael behaves much of the time -- that the parent show wouldn't work without them.

Buttercup said...

I agree, Alan - without Pam and Jim, the show is just depressing. In fact, I think that was the reason last night's show was such a dud. Most of the characters were less parody and more faithful to reality. In real life, the Jim's of our world pander daily and are just as uninspired. It had all of the pointlessness and disillusionment of office life and very little of the usual satire. The only bright spots for me were Creed's "I finished my work months ago" and, correct me if I'm wrong, Kelly saying "Thank you" in unison with Darryl when Michael complimented him on his outfit.

Mo Ryan said...

Hated it.

dez said...

Re: the spin-off, all the rumors are pointing to Ed Helms as Andy.

Hmm, not sure I could take show centered around Michael-lite :-)

ITA about Jim and Pam being indispensable. And I rewound the golf cart accident a few times. Maybe more Andy wouldn't be so bad?

Mike said...

Television Without Pity just called The Office the best show of the week.

So take that all you Negative Nellies!

Matt said...

To be more precise, the rumors are that the spinoff well be led by Ed Helms and Amanda Peet (who apparently still has some deal out of Studio 60). I'm not quite sure how Peet fits into the picture, though, since I don't see her as playing an oblivious Michael Scott character (or even a Jan-type)--she's better at being the smartest girl in the room. Maybe she's the new hotshot manager who's given Andy as her number 2?

Doje said...

One of the funniest lines of the episode to me, for whatever reason was Creed's interaction with Angela:
"Are you in?" "No." "Well are you out?"

Haha, that one gave me a subtle chuckle.

Pandroman said...

I think it's the first I time I disagree with you Alan... for me it's one of the best. Great Jim and Pam moments, particularly the phone call he gets in the golf course to remind him what he really cares about. Great reaction shots (Jim cringing about Andy after the game, Pam at Michael's last ditch speech).

And come on, don't you think Michael's phrase about "youthanizing" the office just shows how subtly funny the show can be ?