Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Office, "Weight Loss": Close shaves

Spoilers for "The Office" season five premiere coming up just as soon as I really process 9/11...

Holly beat-boxed! She beat-boxed, people! I don't care if there was nothing else remotely funny about this episode, because I'm a little in love with both "The Office" and Amy Ryan right about now.

Fortunately, there were a lot of funny things going on in "Weight Loss" -- as well as a moment to make every PB&J fan's heart soar -- as "The Office" returned in superb form.

I can't say enough about how perfect an addition Amy Ryan has been as Holly, even if you take out the beatboxing. Michael's attraction to Holly, and Jim's attempt to help Michael actually forge a relationship with her, has forced Michael to curb some of his more extreme behavior. Michael has always worked best when the writers push him back from the cartoon ledge a bit and force him to seem human, if completely inept. So here he was a fool, but a recognizable fool -- growing that heinous goatee, tossing Jim a condom to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, failing to come up with any kind of explanation for his audible groan upon hearing Holly's date went well -- in a way that was still extremely funny. Even the Michael Klump fat suit bit wasn't so outrageous as to make you wonder why no one shut it down, and in the end he actually did some good for Kelly with it.

And then, just as we were all convinced all of Michael's good behavior might lead to him attending the Counting Crows concert with Holly, he had to go and make what he thought was a grand gesture but was in fact a completely self-destructive one by ripping up the tickets! I wanted to smack myself in the head a few times, not because I thought it was a bad moment, but because I feel so much for Michael when the writers rein in his behavior just enough like this. They actually have me rooting for this relationship just as much as people cheered for Jim and Pam to hook up back in the day.

Of course, those two young lovebirds got their moment of pure bliss, which no doubt prevented Michael and Holly from getting theirs. (This is "The Office"; only a few characters are allowed to be non-miserable at a time.) I'll admit it: they had me fooled. I thought for sure that we were heading towards some stupid storyline where Pam "outgrows" Jim while attending the design school (possibly hooking up with the classmate played by Rich Sommer, aka Harry from "Mad Men"), and I was preparing a big screed about how the writers were afraid to have them stay together, even though they proved last year that resolved sexual tension can still be funny. But no -- it was all a set-up for Jim's impromptu proposal in the rain, at a highway service area, a setting that was at once the least romantic and most romantic place he could do it. (That he chose to do it then -- that he needed to do it then -- made it clear to Pam how badly he wants to marry her.) Perfectly written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, played by Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski, and beautifully-shot (from the other side of the highway) by Paul Feig.

I spent a lot of time early last season complaining about the pacing of the hour-long episodes. "Weight Loss" didn't really have any slow spots, because there were stories or running gags for virtually every character (except, as usual, Meredith). Stanley is determined to lose weight on his own to get back to his Black Panther fighting trim, Andy falls in and out of Angela's good graces depending on how much he's willing to bend to her whims, Phyllis blackmails her way into the Party Planning Committee leadership, etc., etc., etc. The writers continued the marvelous joke of Holly believing Kevin to be mentally disabled, but not for so long that we'd get tired of it. (And it's a credit to Amy Ryan that she played Holly's anger at hearing Angela call Kevin stupid so passionately; that only made her mortification at learning the truth even funnier.)

Welcome back, "The Office." You have been badly, badly missed.

Some other thoughts on "Weight Loss":

• Another reason to love Holly; she's read "Lonesome Dove" (one of my five favorite books ever) three times.

• Holly's not the only extremely white Dunder Mifflin female to be trying on a hip-hop persona; check out Pam's amusingly dorky gang signal salute to the 2-1-2.

• Pam gets an iChat talking head! Brilliant!

• We finally have the much-discussed question of Michael Scott's virginity solved once and for all. And now I kinda wish I hadn't discussed it so much.

• Lots of great Dwight/Jim throwaway bits, but my favorite was Jim trying to explain to Dwight that people don't die in shotgun weddings.

• Was there a continuity error with Michael being clean-shaven in the lunch room scene with Holly and Jim, or were we supposed to assume that he shaved the goatee and then re-grew it?

• I loved the stupid nicknames for all the members of Andy's old band (Broccoli Rob!), and that one of his father's old Cornell classmates is now a groundskeeper at The Breakers. Between that guy and Andy, a Cornell degree may not be all it's cracked up to be, no?

• Poor, poor, poor, pathetic Toby. The perfect darkly hilarious kicker to the episode.

What did everybody else think?

70 comments:

Adam said...

Poor Toby.

This was a pretty damn great episode. I loved the sight gag of Kelly and Darryl making out in front of Ryan followed immediately by another shot of the vending machine.

Also, Creed. Always Creed.

chris w said...

I really liked this episode. Although I think Dwight and Angela hooking up at work is a tad out of character.

What was up with Meredith's face on the second or third weigh-in? It looked like she was a burn victim. There was no mention of it.

Anonymous said...

Alan,
Great episode, and I agree, a hearty welcome back....one thing though....did you catch, on the first week's weigh in (after the contest started) Merideth's face? It was peel central....in fact, she almost looked like a burn victim. Not sure what they were going for there, other than to stress it was summer and maybe she spent too much time in the sun, but it is pretty funny none the less (had to freeze frame the DVR to get a good look, but worth it).

JoeE said...

Man, Rich Sommer sure looks different without glasses and a pound of pomade in his hair.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Given that Meredith was involved, I suspect it was a reference to a scene that wound up on the cutting room floor. Check NBC.com's deleted scenes in the morning, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Very poor episode, I thought. Only 1, maybe 2 laughs in the whole hour.

Lane said...

Rainn Wilson's delivery of the line "and Kevin" was perfect (after he was talking about who from Scranton wasn't attractive... the guy who killed his mom)

Jesse said...

I'm chiming in with the love. Great episode, and the head-fake with Pam's classmate really got me going.

Oh, and I don't care what they have to make Amy Ryan a permanent cast member. Loooooved her. And if you disagree with me, alls I gots to say is:

Whikka-whikka WHAT!

porter said...

I took the goatee-no goatee thing in the lunch scene as the documentary crew just splicing together something to illustrate Jim's discomfort at eating lunch with anyone but Pam. Seems like too obvious a goof otherwise.

Trish said...

The fruit flies in the vending machine nearly gave me a hernia. Assuming one can get a hernia from giggling.

Linda said...

I loved this episode. Wonderfully, I SOMEHOW managed not to know that proposal was coming, and before it even happened, my buddy and I had commented that it was a pretty damn strong episode, so I know it wasn't just the swoony segment of my personality that fell for it. I thought the fat-suit business was too long, and, as said buddy pointed out, it echoed too many things they've done before (in Diversity Day and many times thereafter), so that was really the one part that reminded me of the dull parts of hour-long episodes past.

But overall, there were so many wonderful little touches -- Michael carrying around Pam's computer head, which I found HILARIOUS for some reason; the brilliant reveal of what Phyllis got in exchange for keeping quiet; the wise decision to get the Kevin-is-mentally-challenged business out of the way now, because they've gotten all they're going to get from it; getting Ryan back in the office much more like himself; that unbelievably believable talking head with Kelly explaining that she's on a cleanse diet...there was just endless things I just adored about it.

And that was before the proposal, which was warm and romantic and surprising. I didn't honestly feel like this show was this on in this way ALL LAST SEASON (the episodes I liked last season, like "Dinner Party" and "The Deposition," are marvelously uncomfortable instead), so I found it really encouraging.

dylanfan said...

And Ryan is a temp again -- certainly makes those of us playing DMI 2.0 feel better!

Rachel said...

Brilliant. Everyone at my Office party was dying.

The beat-boxing was absolutely hysterical. As was the exchange between Jim and Ryan about community service and then the cutaway to Ryan adding Jim to his list.

God I missed this show.

Number Five said...

What a great episode...totally didn't see the proposal coming. They did a good job suggesting but not overselling the seeds of a "Pam meets someone else" storyline with Harry Crane. And I don't know how common it is for shows to use this structure vs. just skipping the summer (as The Office has done in previous seasons) but I thought it was a great idea to show a bit of each week in combination with the weight loss contest. That way we got to see things like Pam in NYC and Holly and Michael's fumbling attempts at courtship instead of just hearing about them.

Poor Meredith, relegated to the deleted scenes again...even Jan had a funny appearance. I loved her look of disappointment after finding out the kidnapped girl had indeed been rescued.

Is the winning branch (Utica?) the one Karen runs now?

Anonymous said...

Great stuff as usual. I laughed non-stop throughout.

Ryan's a bit of a reach. The dude pulled an accounting scam on a publicly traded company. Then he gets rehired as a temp in the same company? That would never happen.

However, I'm willing to let it slide because of how hilarious it was to see this tool get his comeuppance. And also while he plots his revenge.

Kensington said...

I don't watch Office reruns, so I haven't seen the show since last season finished and forgot how good it is.

That was just perfect, and I'm in love with Amy Ryan. Who wouldn't be?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else immediately think of Tobias not wanting to blame his failed marriage *entirely* on 9/11 when Ryan mentioned it?

(Not to imply joke-stealing by the Office guys. I just love me some Arrested Development, always).

Nicole said...

Creed and the "tapeworm" was probably the highlight for me, but there really were so many funny moments, and the proposal was well done too. Yay my show is back!

Mo Ryan said...

It was great how Michael really did make Kelly feel better in the meeting -- and then in an offhand comment just destroyed all good work that when he found her eating pizza. Nicely done.

I think the structure of the episode -- showing us several weeks over the summer -- really gave the show far more energy and better pacing than we normally get with these hourlong Office episodes. Maybe the passage of time, in this case, gave them more opportunities for comedy, more potential jokes?

I dunno, I just know that I was dreading the possibility that I might not enjoy the return of the Office. Instead it was really fun, with relatively little padding (aside from Michael's fat suit, har har).

The Michael-Holly stuff is so perfectly pitched. Agreed that Michael Scott trying to restrain himself -- trying to not screw it up with Holly -- is one of the funniest things the Office has ever done. Ryan and Carell are pretty great in their scenes. And the Jim-Pam proposal! Yay! Second time this show has totally surprised me with those two. I say again, yay!

I swear, with both HIMYM and the Office giving us really solid episodes this week, I'm just mentally saying, "Aaaaahhh" right about now. As in, "Thank you, well-made comedy! Good to have you back."

dave s said...

Loved it! So glad they're moving the Pam & Jim story forward. So much more true to life. And I 20th the comments about Amy Ryan. I really hope she's in this for the long haul.

Anonymous said...

I have always found B.J. Novak a hilarious comedian, but mediocre actor. In tonight's episode, I thought his acting was excellent. Guess for someone talented it's just a matter of time.

Also, seeing Beadie Russell cheating on McNulty is a little discomfiting.

-Joe

Anonymous said...

What was on Meredith's face?

Anonymous said...

i loved Stanley's last scene on the scale!

Anonymous said...

As soon as Amy Ryan leave the show (supposeldy in 4 episodes) - I'm gonna stop watching.

She UTTERLY UTTERLY UTTERLY saved the series.

And Lee Eisenberg and Stupnitsky --- genius writing these last two episodes

Anonymous said...

I am sad that Toby's gone but love Amy Ryan. And Toby's lucky Costa Rica has better health care than the United States does.

I don't really understand how Pam is an RA, but whatever. And where does she keep her car? That must be expensive!

Anonymous said...

And why is Pam studying fungi???

BigTed said...

I suspect that they're still planning some major forks in the road for PB&J -- maybe she ends up getting a job in New York? Or she could still make a mistake with her new college "friend," who's basically Bizarro Jim -- similar sense of humor, not quite as good-looking.

Or maybe they'd be afraid of an audience rebellion if they let that happen at this point.

Anonymous said...

Highlights:
*Phyllis-Maybe it's my jugs.
*Very little Jan
*Everyone in the office got a line.
*JAM-I melted. It'll be nice to know they're happy and engaged since the Holly/Michael/Jan and Dwight/Angela/Andy love triangles all exist.

velvetcannibal said...

Greatest funny moment for me: Kevin's "Fire-d Guy" to Ryan.

ebuzzmiller said...

When Michael said Jim was going on a booty call to see Pam, Jim said something along the lines of "No, but I might put up some shelves", that was a direct reference to a Three's Company episode! Mr. Roper was using that phrase (putting up a shelf) as a euphemism for sex when talking to Jack Tripper at the Regal Beagle...it's sad that I remember that!

jana said...

Aww c'mon,4:05 am Annonymous, can't you just leave a comment about a *TV SHOW* without getting political?? Sad.

Kevin said...

Ah, I didn't put together the reference to Ryan "Fire guy" Howard now being "Fire-d guy"..nice

I really liked how they made us feel bad for Phyllis after everyone was saying nice things about Kelly's body....then she makes the comment about her jugs and you feel bad for her in a different way.

Kristin said...

What I found to be interesting was the change in Jim. He really didn't drive Dwight as crazy as usual. Is he perhaps growing up a bit? The IM moment, Dwight was convinced they were chatting about him...which would have been typical Jim behavior a season or two ago. But now? It was all about PAM! Torturing Dwight was the furthest thing from his mind.

Pretty much everything I loved about this episode has already been mentioned. It didn't feel like an hour-long episode at all. Bravo, writers! "The Office" is in fine form this season!!!

Anonymous said...

Great episode. The one thing that bugged me, though, was Pam staying in the wrong class when the professor told her to sit down. After her big speech in the season 3 finale you'd think she'd at least have the guts now to say "but I'm in the wrong class."

filmcricket said...

Jim's smugness in the earlier part of the episode (and for most of last season) was really starting to bug, but all was forgiven when he showed how genuinely ecstatic he was when he returned after the proposal.

Other than that, this was a brilliant episode, and I agree, it didn't drag as much as previous hour-long ones have. I think everyone else has hit on all the high points already.

StickUpKid said...

This episode reminded me just how much I miss this show when its gone.

Amy Ryan, you have my heart. I have been watching The Wire season 2 and it is great to see what a range she has as an actor when you compare Beadie Russell and Holly, not to mention Gone Baby GOne and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I really hope they can find a way to keep her around for a while. ANd if she has to go, please bring her back every once and a while.

Pam's shout out to the 212 was awesome.
God I hate Ryan. Maybe they should have the real Ryan Howard come by and kick his ass. I'm no writer but maybe he goes to a Phil's game and takes a HR ball off the dome while trying to kiss up to Kelly. See, I told you I'm no TV writer and that seals it.

Lookin forward to many more weeks of the best comedy on TV post Arrested.

Wikka Wikka What!!!

Brian said...

Loved the photos Michael put up for "love your body" day:

Fat twins on motorcycles.
Elvis.
Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man
Jabba the Hut
A Pig.

the2scoops said...

My favourite talking head, and there were lots, was when the documentary crew calls out Angela, something along the lines of:

"I have a cozy quilt, lots of pillows, I read a book and I'm asleep by 8pm. THAT'S how I sleep at night!"

Great kick-off to the season!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Found by one of the readers at Throwing Things: Serenity By Jan Candles.

R. J. O. Stewart said...

Shouldn't Ryan still be in white-collar resort prison? Am I showing my ignorance about the legal system here?

OFB said...

I took Merideth's face to be a side effect of getting sprayed in the face by Dwight's bug spray.

Bobman said...

GREAT episode. I coudln't believe an hour was over as fast as it was - with past hour-longs, I would have been staring at the clock halfway through, this time I was actually surprised.


One bad thing is I caught one of the 30 Rock commercials - does that show really not debut until OCTOBER 30?! Why so long?!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why so long?!

They want to do a bunch of primetime "Saturday Night Live" (or, I guess, "Thursday night Live") mini-episodes about the election, and so they wanted to save "30 Rock" until after those were done airing.

LA said...

Bravo! So good to have The Office back in such fine form.

Anonymous said...

Great episode

One thing I don't see people talking about is Angela being pregnant with Dwight's child. I may be wrong, but there were a lot of signs saying it's possible. Her doctor told her to gain weight, everyone thinks they are losing weight as a whole, but in reality they gained some. There were a few other things that I noticed that made me think she was pregnant that I can't think of at the moment. Again, I could be way off with this, but I'm a little shocked no one else has at least mentioned it.

Toeknee said...

ebusmiller - Thank you! I knew that "putting up shelves" comment sounded familiar but I couldn't place where I heard it before.

I was wondering if the text Angela sent to Dwight's pager was "rhinoceros" or "chimichanga"?

Grunt said...

No one else seems to have mentioned it, and I may be reading something into this I'm not, but when Pam & Jim met at the gas station Pam said something to the effect of, "This is not halfway. I had to drive way farther than you did" which I took to be almost metaphorical. After all, Pam's road was a lot longer then Jims. She had to get self-confidence, break-up with a looser boyfriend, get comfortable with herself, etc. Anyone else take it that way, or are my film-student roots just showing?

Fernando said...

Loved the episode, but a lil moment that struck me was Andy singing "Umbrella" by Rihanna, a song that was hot last year that a guy like Andy or Michael probably just heard and is using as an attempt to sound cool.

Mark B said...

Did anyone else immediately think of Tobias not wanting to blame his failed marriage *entirely* on 9/11 when Ryan mentioned it?

That's exactly what I thought of. It was funnier on AD because of the delivery, and because it was such a non sequitur - yet amazingly in character for Tobias.

Mo Ryan said...

Angela and Andy also have a wedding website:
http://www.angelaandy.com/

Mo Ryan said...

So is Meredith the Kenny of the Office? Are they going to find a new way to injure her every week?

Not that I'm necessarily against that, just wondering...

I love that Jim didn't tell anyone when he got back to the office. He just wanted that moment to himself.

Also: Wicca-wicca-wack!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wicca-wicca-wack!

I don't think that's quite it, but I'm damned if I can come up with the proper phonetic spelling of whatever glorious thing Holly did there.

Thoughts?

Rev-Views said...

Stanley just rocks.

Oh and thank goodness the Jim/Pam/Jam fake out went the way it did. I was going to throw my TV out the window if I had to tolerate another comedy show driving a wonderfull couple apart.

I'd even opened the window in preparation.

Mark said...

Alan -- I also loved the way the engagement scene was shot from across the street, instead of as a close-up. It's exactly the opposite of how every other TV proposal is staged, and it just made the moment that much more unexpected.

Really enjoyed this episode from start to finish.

MDS said...

The one little detail that just killed me in this episode: Dwight brining a boom box into the warehouse when he meets Angela for quickie. The possibilities for what's music he plays are mind-boggling.

Mo Ryan said...

You're right, it's probably "wicca-wicca-what" but somehow "wicca-wicca-wack" sounds right.

For me it may be a holdover from Project Runway, Season 2, when Uncle Nick Verreos called stuff "wickety wack," a phrase I now use daily.

dez said...

I haven't had a chance to watch the premiere yet, but wanted to note that Melora Hardin was on "Yo, Gabba Gabba!" this morning doing a Dancey Dance. It was awesome.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Office!!! My husband and I laughed a ton throughout this episode -- and the hour just flew by. Loved PB&J fiannly -- he really did "knock her socks off" just like he promised he would last season, didn't he?
Loved the Angela talking head: I have a comforter, two pillows, and a read for 1/2 an hour. That's how I sleep at night." LOL.
And I forgot about Holly thinking Kevin was mentally challenged -- when she ripped into Angela I was a little surprised -- then I remembered. OMG -- it was so funny.
Amy Ryan is perfect on this show -- it's so good fro Michael to have a silly buddy to do dumb things with -- and she really is right there with him -- wicka wicka wack! LOL

Anonymous said...

What was the date of the weigh in when Meredith's face was red? Given her drinking, if it was a holiday weekend, maybe she feel asleep in the sun after drinking.

Anonymous said...

The episode was good but it made me wonder why Dwight still hasn't been fired. He was even more unusual than usual, and hardly funny at that.

DolphinFan said...

Fantastic season premiere! I loved "Weight Loss" because it really hit a balance between humor and heart, spread the storylines amongst the cast with perfect balance, and made good use of every one of its 60 minutes in a way that hour-long episodes of this show don't always pull off. I'd say the only hour-long that was this perfectly arranged was "Money".
Some individual notes:
*Poor Ronni. I knew she was doomed when she made that puking-in-church offer to dance at the "fruit party".
*The Ryan twist is a great one--it brings him back in a murky zone between green temp and hotshot manager, it had him being nice repeatedly to Kelly without prompting for the first time I can ever recall, and logistically, having Ryan as a temp gives the show room as B.J. Novak heads off for however long it'll take to film his part in Quentin Tarantino's WWII film.
*I thought for just a second that Angela's smile meant she and Kevin had guessed Holly's wrong thinking about him and smoked her out--then I looked at Angela and Kevin's expressions and...boy, she is a nasty piece of work, something reinforced by that hilarious "how I sleep at night" comment.
*Andy's so stupid that having Angela humiliate him at every turn seems richly deserved, but his comment about not caring where they got married because he wanted them to be together forever was really well-done by Ed Helms. Just a thought: Maybe Jim overheard that (off camera) and it influenced his decision to pop the question to Pam?
*I'm curious as to whether that was really Leslie Baker in that pic Stanley was holding up. Probably yes. It was funny in any case.
*Jan is a scumbag, seriously. Her reaction to the vigil being over proved she has no business ever being within 50 miles of a child, let alone raising one. I hope that storyline gives Michael the upper hand over her because, as much of a social retard as he is, he's been drawn pretty clearly as someone who'd be a terrific father (up to the point where he'd just embarrass his kid every day, which would occur on a time frame that would outrun how long this show will be on the air).
*The proposal was beautiful.
*What else could we have expected to happen to Toby? What we need know is for him to either lose all his money or end up living in the rain forest.
Rating for this episode 9.5/10.

Anonymous said...

break-up with a looser boyfriend

Hey, now, I think Roy was faithful to Pam! ;)

Mandy said...

If anybody could find out what was the deal with Meredith's face, I'd love you forever. I was thinking maybe, just maybe...it could have something to do with the bug spray from the start of the episode? I don't know.

And did you guys catch the winning ad from Tide? I work for Tide and we had a contest to see who could best spoof the popular "talking stain" ad that originally aired during the Super Bowl. The winner was John Michael Sy's ad "Tide Stain Rap." If you missed it, you can catch this and the other finalists at www.tidetogo.com/ads. And for more on Sy, check out http://www.suntimes.com/business/lazare/1184147,CST-FIN-lew25.article

I hope it's cool I commented on your blog! If you have any questions or know what was wrong with Meredith's face, please email me!

Thanks!
Mandy Jacobs :)
mandyjtidetogo@gmail.com

BigTed said...

Angela addresses the "Meredith's face" issue on her blog:

"Some of you were confused about Meredith's sunburned face. She actually had a talking head that explained it all. It was very funny, and hopefully you will see it on deleted scenes on nbc.com."
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=32799810&blogID=436251929

Jason said...

"It wasn't a tapeworm."

LoopyChew said...

How could nobody acknowledge Dwight's "'sup." head-nod to the camera after Angela's first booty call?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe no one mentioned Holly "outing" herself...and then taking it back within seconds...I'm curious to see where that's going to head, both in terms of office dynamics (Oscar being the only "out" person at the office) & with Michael.

Jackie said...

I'm sure you've already checked out the deleted scenes and found out what happened to Meredith's face. I felt for the actor because the face was really obvious and was left unexplained. I thought I was just seeing things at first.

This is how true Wire fans pay homage to the Wire!! I'm not going to waste valuable Office space to talk about 90210--although I am a huge fan of Tristan Wilds and am promoting this show as best I can. Yet, the writing alone, with or without Amy Ryan continues to contribute to the category smart tv.

Anyhow, my favorite line was about Zapf Dingbats--which like the "Find and Replace" joke surrounding Michael's Secret Agent script just makes me smile for its wit.

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F. Belt said...

Amy Ryan, you have my heart. I have been watching The Wire season 2 and it is great to see what a range she has as an actor when you compare Beadie Russell and Holly, not to mention Gone Baby GOne and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. I really hope they can find a way to keep her around for a while. ANd if she has to go, please bring her back every once and a while.