Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Office, "Baby Shower": Daughter of a paper woman

Quick spoilers for tonight's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I bumper test my stroller...

Faked out! Twice! Very nice.

Just when I thought the writers were again going to travel down the perilous and stupid route of having Jim and Pam's time apart cause problems in their relationship, we got that perfect final sequence of them leaving interlocking voicemail messages pointing out just how in sync they are even on days when they're out of sync. And just when I thought the writers were going to have Michael give in to Jan's demands one last time and ruin any shot he had with Holly, he instead goes in for a hug (and dig the perfect little smile on Amy Ryan's face when he does it) and asks her out in a moment that was like a funhouse mirror version of Jim finally asking Pam for a date at the end of season three.

I've had a very long, tiring day, and so I don't have the energy to really do "Baby Shower" justice, but I thought it was another winner in what's been a really strong start to season five. The more monstrous the writers make Jan, the funnier she is, and Carell was perfect in both the silly moments (eating the watermelon!) and the emotional ones (handing Ass-Turd to Phyllis and walking quietly back into his office).

One question: was Jan's stroller an actual brand? Because if so, Dwight's subplot was maybe the most blatant bit of product integration they've ever forced on the show.

What did everybody else think?

42 comments:

Jake said...

I thought it was pretty great, but it may have been the least funny episode they've ever made. Not because the jokes fell flat, but because there were long stretches that weren't even supposed to be funny (not even in a painful-moments-are-funny sense). Very well done, just not very funny.

Wendymoon said...

My husband can't watch this show because he finds the situations too awkward to be funny. Usually I disagree with him but tonight was a cringe-through-it show for me. I was glad with how things ended up, but overall I thought it was more frustrating than funny tonight.

Maultsby said...

Don't know ... I can see how some might see it as a not funny ep but maybe that's a reflection on me because I laughed out loud more than once, and certainly was not disappointed. Yeah, the stroller thing went long but at the end when Dwight took credit that it was already stowed in her trunk ...

And a big shout out to Dwight for spelling it out to Michael on the couch.

Meanwhile, Angela and Andy are posing the baby in the break room while Jan is crashed. At first when Jan showed up with the born baby, I thought she's human and came to her senses; and then she started with the singing?

So many looks ... loved Phyllis going around collecting money for the present.

Glad that Michael seemed balanced at the end, although I'm not convinced about the Holly thing. I know a lot of people really want her to be part of the show for ever and ever but I'm not there.

Maultsby said...

Not Dwight, Darryl -- sorry.

Bobman said...

Haha, the Daryl scene was awesome. Daryl needs more screen time.

Stupid question : was that the most realistic animatronic infant ever, or the youngest baby actor ever? I thought there was some rule about babies on TV where they had to be pretty old, but AssTurd really looked like a newborn.

anon said...

Oh yes, The Orbit Stroller is very real.

Anon

Anonymous said...

Why were Andy and Angela posing the baby with vegetables? Wouldn't tiny musical instruments have made more sense?

Undercover Asian Man said...

You can tell it's a fake baby in the one scene where it doesn't blink at all. In another, later scene, I think they used a real baby.

This episode made me laugh out loud literally for the first time in a long time. Particularly "Oh, and I'm treating Ryan the same way" and "Must be like the tide at Omaha Beach" caught me by surprise and busted me up. Maybe it didn't have as many jokes as normal, but the ones they had were top shelf.

I was moved by the Michael hugging Holly scene. Amy Ryan is too good an actress. The teary eyed look she had said it all, and made the scene as affecting and romantic as any the Office has produced.

Maybe getting Pam out of the office and lessening the focus on her and Jim is the key to why the first three episodes have all been so strong.

Jenn said...

I thought this was a great episode. The opening scene made me laugh so hard, my stomach hurt. It was crazy, but hilarious. There were many other parts where I laughed, but I also enjoyed the more serious, introspective parts. Loved Darryl telling Michael how it was about Michael not being a "baby daddy". So glad that Michael didn't listen to Jan at the end. Another winner for me.

SJ said...

Amy Ryan is amazing! And Steve Carrell was also brilliant in every moment.

The funniest moment was definitely seeing him eat the watermelon and Dwight putting his pants on in the background.

Randy said...

Apparently, I have to add "The Office" to my list of TV Shows Not To Eat While Watching. The discussion of Jan's tub birth, brilliant and hilarious as it was (especially Creed's comment about it looking like Omaha Beach) almost had me gacking up my pizza.

You'd think I'd know better, even from the opening, with Dwight's buttered-up watermelon birth. Big laughs!!!

Kensington said...

Please please PLEASE can't Amy Ryan just stay around forever? Please?

Just give her all the money she wants. I love her, and I don't ever want her to leave the show.

I know this is irrational, but PLEAAAASE?

Anonymous said...

the opening scene, Michael's use of language (Jan being in the "terminal phase" of her pregnancy, the water birth information, as well as Creed's reaction to it....one of the most laugh out loud episodes for me in recent memory. And the Pam and Jim ending just sealed the deal.
A great one tonight.

LA said...

Why were Andy and Angela posing the baby with vegetables? Wouldn't tiny musical instruments have made more sense?

It's a reference to Anne Geddes, and if memory serves, it's also a callback to Angela having Anne Geddes posters up at her cubicle.

http://www.annegeddes.com/

Dan said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but far and away the most underrated bit of the episode was when Michael is first talking about how he loves babies, while the footage of him playing with the kids and their mothers rolls.

It's just one of those nice touches that really reinforces why we all love Michael Scott. It's easy for a comedy to have an outlandishly offensive buffoon, but I've never seen one who could tug on my heartstrings the way Steve Carell has.

Michael said...

I find it a bit odd that the newly-engaged Pam and Jim don't say "I love you" to each other at all. They don't have to be shmoopy about it, but they can at least say it when they're leaving phone messages for each other.

Oaktown Girl said...

Actually, I found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions in this episode, and that doesn't happen very much. Maybe the laughs were more spread out, but hit harder when they came.

What Dwight was doing to Jan's stroller, it was perfect payback to Jan on Michael's behalf. I wonder if in the writers' minds Dwight was conscious about that aspect of it or not.

Drew said...

I have to disagree with you, Alan, about Jan. I find that the writers have completely missed the mark by pushing her this far over the top. She hasn't made me laugh in a long, long time, and the more insane she becomes, the more uncomfortable it is to watch, and not in the good Office-esque way.

I find her to be one of the most poorly drawn, selfish, and disgusting television characters currently on air, and her horrible treatment of Michael makes it impossible for me to even muster a laugh when she does anything, even things that are sort of funny like singing "Son of a Preacher Man." Honestly, I'd rather see The O.C.: Johnny Harper put into production than have to deal with Jan anymore.

All that said, I do appreciate so much that Michael went to Holly at the end. I found that a really powerful and moving moment. Holly's tears were a nice touch, and it very awesome that Michael didn't kiss her.

All-in-all, there were a few good moments -- Stanley's brilliant talking head, the aforementioned Michael/Holly scene, Andy and Angela with the baby pictures, and Michael trying to act like a baby daddy to Darryl -- but overall, I found this to be a major step down from last week and a step down from the premiere.

EOTW said...

Jan singing that song was so cringy to me, I had to change the channel. I'll catch the rest online. Yeah, and I'm a fan of the Brit version, too. Easily one of the most cringy eps ever.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Stanley's brilliant talking head

Thanks for reminding me of that. Stanley comparing himself to a pregnant woman was one of the great Stanley moments of all time.

filmcricket said...

I'm with Drew on Jan. I'm so, so sick of strong professional women on TV turning into adolescents or psychopaths when it comes to their personal lives. I also think the show has enough broad characters that it doesn't need another one. Jan makes Michael and even (sometimes) Dwight look normal by comparison. I do give Melora Hardin full marks for committing so fully to Jan's insanity, though.

I'm going to have to watch it again, I was distracted and missed a lot. But the final moment between Michael and Holly was just lovely. I agree with those who'd like to see Amy Ryan stick around. I hope at least she gets more work out of this.

Anonymous said...

I loved this one. I admit it: I literally cheered when Michael asked Holly out.

Oh and Holly's baby joke was hilarious! "Wahh, I wnat paper!"

zodin2008 said...

I was really moved by the scene where Michael completely turned on Jan's mean spirited advice to "not date Holly" (they've really made Jan downright evil) and walked up to Holly, hugged her with so much real emotion (moving her to well up) and asked her out, quietly. It gives me chills even now thinking about it.

Never has this show touched me so much as that scene. Amen to the performance and chemistry that is ever so sweet between Steve Carrell and Amy Ryan. If they did actually date, it would be the dorkiest, sweetest and mist heartfelt relationship on TV - and one everybody should root for.

Let me merely copycat many of the other bloggers on here and BEG - I mean really BEG - the "Office" team to give Amy Ryan and blank check and keep her working ont his show.

(And Amy, if you're reading this, unknown actresses who suddenly win best supporting drama actress Oscars, usually make bad career decisions and disappear...Mercedes Ruehl, Mira Sorvino, etc - going to "The Office" and suddenly showing off comic chops, matching the emotion and absurdity, equally of Steve Carrell is about as good a career move as I can think for someone to have next made - you are my hero - STAY!!!!!)

Sorry, I rarely get this passionate or emotional about a character and plot, but when Michael hugged her, I clapped out loud and pumped my fist.

Let me add that Michael's real feelings once he held Astrid, was amazing, and such a great moment of maturity for Michael Scott. It was the moment where he signified he won't be controlled by evil Jan, anymore.

andythesaint said...

And Amy, if you're reading this, unknown actresses who suddenly win best supporting drama actress Oscars, usually make bad career decisions and disappear...

As much as we'd like to retroactively make this happen, Amy Ryan did not win an Oscar for Gone Baby Gone. Tilda Swinton won it for Michael Clayton.

As much as I'm loving watch she's bringing to the show, a happy, solid relationship for Michael Scott would probably ruin the show, so I don't think she should last forever. I'm not one of those who think a happy PB&J is a gamebreaker, because they're not what the show is about. But a well-adjusted Michael Scott? That fundamentally alters things.

zodin2008 said...

My bad about Amy Ryan and the Oscar...Tilda Swinton was excellent in "Michael Clayton" (a great movie as well), but Ryan should have won for the more transforming performance in an even better movie, "Gone Baby Gone".

Where I disagree with you brings up a larger issue: why do some TV people and some TV fans think MISERABLE relationships are always so much funnier? I don't get it, at all.

Miserable people, with the grand exception of Larry David, are generally NOT funnier. I am sorry.

Characters in solid relationships can absolutely bring the funny - Lilly and Marshall on "How I Met Your Mother", for example. Hodgins and Angela were far better together on "Bones" than they are (ridiculously so, I might add) apart.

Jim and Pam are still funny - they went through ups and downs but they can be successful together. I trust good comedy writers, like the staff of "The Office".

As for Jan and Michael, they have the potential to be both the sweetest couple on TV, and yet the dorkiest funniest couple on TV. I mean, it's not like it has to prevent Michael from talking about how attractive he thinks Ryan is? Michael Scott can be Michael Scott...and Holly can be Holly. But they would be so funny and so cute (and dorky) as a couple.

You couldn't see Michael planning a 'romantic' evening one time with Holly where they star say with Mini Golf (and Michael keeps angering the other people trying to play) and then having a "romantic" date at Chili's? The writers would know what to do with it - "The Office" is run by smart people.

Isaac, your bartender said...

No mention of Michael's asking of when he is going to get his golden shower? Too funny.

That First Andrew said...

Dysfunctional relationships are more common because the standard trope for TV writers is that you wring comedy out of denying your characters pleasure and happiness. They seek it and are perpetually frustrated.

That said, if any show on TV has earned the right to take a risk and put its main character into a healthy relationship with a woman well suited to him, it is the Office. They have proved time and again that they can make their characters happy and still find the comedy in them. Just because MIchael might be in a good relationship with Holly doesn't mean he wouldn't still be oblivious to social cues or have his view on life entirely based on movies and TV shoes. Remember Carol? That was a reasonably healthy relationship that they still got laughs from.

Like the tide at Omaha Beach... God bless you, Creed Bratton.

Chris Lawrence said...

See, I liked the business of Dwight beating the everloving crap out of Jan's $1200 stroller. But Dwight, when he really gets into something, always cracks me up (like when he decided to thoroughly inspect the CFO's house at the cocktail party in Season 3).

Which begs the question, where the hell is she getting all of this money now that Michael has cut her off? "Serenity by Jan" can't be raking in the dough.

Zachary said...

I thought Jan's advice to Michael about not asking Holly wasn't mean spirited, but rather Jan recognizing that Michael had a crush on Holly and she was trying to make him not act it, although I'm sure deep down, she knew he would ignore her advice anyways.

Another terrific episode, if you ask me. I'm glad I wasn't eating food while watching this because I probably would have had to put it down due to the descriptions of Jan's birth. I'm surprised they didn't work in anything about eating the placenta. ;)

Jim and Pam's "phone conversation" was awesome.

Bryan Murray said...

Thought the best and most unexpected moment of the night was Michael interrupting Phyllis's talking head. Poor Phyllis rarely gets a talking head and Michael stands in the window ordering her to blow up the balloons faster. Agree with an above post--not as many laugh-out-loud moments but a strong episode.

DolphinFan said...

Alan's right: the start of Season 5 has been incredibly strong. I wonder if the writers looked back to the start of Season 4, grimaced at what an unredeemable idiot Michael was acting like in "Dunder Mifflin Infinity" and "Launch Party", and resolved to make sure he was stupid within acceptable limits AND had insights in this season's 2nd and 3rd episodes (scaring everyone into finishing the ethics training last time, and shredding Jan's rude and nasty advice re: Holly this time).
After watching this at 1st, I wanted Jan to vanish and never come back. But now I hope for something else: Jan to return but Michael to keep making it clear that he has as much respect left for her as she has for him, that he owes her nothing, and her hold over him? Is dead and buried.
One general note: I thought B.J. Novak was taking some time to film that new Quentin Tarantino movie in France. Any news on this from anyone who's well-informed?

LA said...

I'm surprised this episode is so divisive. I thought it was straight-up awesome.

Allison said...

I loved this episode, and the moment that struck me the funniest was Jim drawing the chart and ending with, "And Michael is related to this baby by...delusion!"

Anonymous said...

Question: Was Jan's no flashes around babies a joke, or what? There are a lot of counterintuitive rules about babies (honey, egg yolks, etc), but this seems crazily so. I mean, who didn't have their picture taken thousands of times as a baby?

digamma said...

My first reaction to Amy Ryan last spring was "What the hell is an actress that good doing on a sitcom?"

But I was way off the mark. In a show that relies so heavily on subtlety, a serious actor can really hit it out of the park. In shots less than three seconds long you could see whole ranges of confused emotions on her face. Bravo.

Joan said...

What the hell is an actress that good doing on a sitcom?

Comedy's a lot harder to do than drama, particularly comedy of the sort we get in The Office. As much as I like him, Krazinsky's the weakest of this bunch, who are simply amazing.

I winced through every Jan scene, as usual, but loved this episode overall. I can't wait for Angela and Andy to break up, though. I just hope Andy doesn't find out about the Dwight/Angela trysts, because I don't think I could bear to see him emotionally squashed like a bug, which is what that knowledge would do to him.

How long until Pam comes back? She's only supposed to be gone 3 months, right?

Stef said...

As wacky as the scene was, Melora Hardin has a great voice.

Loved this ep, love Michael and Holly.

medusa said...

Another great scene was the baby photo one. Andy scoffing at Angela telling him which was her photo ("that's just mean!") was priceless. I immediately though, uh-oh, Andy's having doubts now. Who wants to risk having an "ugly" baby?

I thought likely the photos were the cast members' own baby pics - the shot of the little Darryl certainly looked spot on.

medusa said...

oh, and also - when the episode first stared, I though, great, here comes another in the endless line of baby-born-on-a-sitcom episodes: woman goes into labor at inopportune time, man freaks out, hilarity ensues. Cue final touching moment around mother and baby in hospital bed.

Thank you, Office writers, for not "delivering" that same old tired garbage. In fact, double points for throwing in the bizarro world birth, just so we don't feel cheated out of anything. Bravo!

Maultsby said...

Medusa: "I thought likely the photos were the cast members' own baby pics - the shot of the little Darryl certainly looked spot on."

I think they are real -- the Dunder Mifflin Infinity employee task this week was matching the actual photos to the actors. I only got 7 of 13 correct ;>(

You would probably have to register and join a branch to play but it can be fun: www.dundermifflininfinity.com

Jenn. said...

I really enjoyed it, but I can understand how people may be divided on it. There is an undercurrent of awkwardness and pain in certain Office episodes that can be hard to handle. As brilliant as I thought that the Dinner Party was, parts of it were so awkward for me that I had some trouble getting past it. I could see people having that same problem here, even if it didn't cross that line for me.

LoopyChew said...

To the person who mentioned Melora Hardin's singing voice: I saw a website a while ago which pointed out that she was the nightclub singer in The Rocketeer. Realizing that Lan Jevinson had that voice knocked me on my feet.

Very little to say about this episode that hasn't been covered already. Count me in under "strong, if not always funny."