Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Office, "Cafe Disco": On the groove line

Quick spoilers for tonight's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I respect the lei...

"Cafe Disco" the episode, like Cafe Disco the disco-cafe, started off seeming like a dumb and pointless idea before gradually revealing itself to be a fun, and even welcome, diversion. It wasn't as funny, nor as thrilling, as some other episodes this season. But there are times, just as we saw with the Valentine's Day episode, when it's just nice to spend some time with these characters when they're having fun together.

So we got to see Ed Helms and Mindy Kaling (soon to star in her own NBC sitcom) kick ass in their own faux-dance competition, got to see Kevin aggressively making out with his girlfriend (whom he met in the Valentine's Day show), got to see Dwight and Phyllis bond (as they did earlier this season in "Crime Aid") even as he treated her like a racehorse, we got to see Oscar's marvelous reaction at realizing Erin likes this place enough to invite a friend, we got to see Angela walk under the limbo stick without bending, and of course we got to see Jim and Pam realize during their time at Cafe Disco that they like these people -- and the other people in their lives -- enough to want to have a proper wedding party with them.

Today was one of those kinda days at the (real) office, and this episode was a nice antidote to that. I really, really like these people sometimes.

What did everybody else think?

58 comments:

Jordan said...

This episode could have been the suckiest suck to ever suck and I wouldn't have noticed, because damnit people, there was a danceoff. And it was glorious. However, the episode turned out to be quite nice. Angela under the bar was a highlight, as was Ryan's talking head. I think that the new secretary is going to be a good addition to the cast.

And I'm taking the dancing as a scrubs tribute.

Linda said...

It was hard not to love it. The same way I've been so glad they've let Michael have that great relationship with Holly (and the nice vibe I guess he now has with Erin) to bring out the different Michael you would see if somebody loved him, I was glad to see him have EXACTLY what he wanted, just for a fleeting second. When Jim twirled him, it was like...he was frozen in this moment that you just know is completely fleeting, largely accidental, and the best thing that has ever happened to him. I just think they've been so smart about refreshing the show by having things happen to characters that have never happened to them before, and this was the same. Michael will go back to being the boss everybody ignores and thinks is a dork, at least mostly, but...I love it that they've realized that a novel plot twist doesn't have to be a secret baby or a twin brother. It can just be "he experiences acceptance."

Steve Wirzba said...

I've never noticed the warmth of this show more than in today's episode. I thought it was marvelous.

Mike said...

So is the receptionist Kelly or Erin? Erin's clearer, but Kelly's funnier.

David said...

had the same reaction, not an incredibly funny episode, but just plain gleeful. count me in as another person who likes the new receptionist. sweet and seemingly uncomplicated. sign me up.

Michael said...

I think that the lesson we can all take from this episode is that in order for it to be a party, you have to start with a couple of attractive women in the room dancing. You can't have just one guy dancing, that won't work.

So say we all.

Alex said...

I'm with you, Alan- I thought the whole episode was going to be stupid and pathetic, and by the end, I had a huge smile on my face. It was just plain sweet, all around.

Spiral Jacobs said...

This episode was another weird tribute to Michael Scott's bizarre genius with people (ironic, considering how socially inept he is most of the time). The party in the disco cafe was just what DM needed. Their esprit de corps was in the crapper, everyone was feeling hostile and negative, and what did they need? DANCE PARTY, of course! Turned out to be the best team-building exercise he could have come up with. Plus, it made him so happy, people were bonding with each other, and... it pissed off Angela. WIN.

Graeleight said...

I was kind of wondering where they were going to go with this new secretary.

Sweet and naive. I like it.

(I hope I'm not misremembering this but my favorite line of the night):

Dwight: Do you have your birth certificate?
Erin: Yes I do! (reaches for her bag)

Nicole said...

Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help but dance a little myself as the music went on.

Dance parties are always fun.

I do love how Creed donated the disco ball and admits that it was his rear view mirror.

mwu said...

I love me some Mindy Kaling, but Ed Helms TOTALLY won that dance-off, and it wasn't even close.

Kensington said...

I, too, started dancing at home. Couldn't help it. This was exuberant and a joy. So nice that they could pull off an episode of such brilliant simplicity.

Count me amongst the big Erin fans now, too. She's delightful.

Also, Mindy Kaling is leaving!?! I wish she weren't!

Omagus said...

Glad I read the link before commenting. I would have been upset to learn that Kaling (or any member of this crazy cast) was leaving.

I really like episodes of television that can do what this one did: it wasn't trying to be anything other than just a half hour of fun. And that's exactly what it did. I loved the childish grin that Michael got when he saw Angela tapping her foot.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether Bob Vance is really cheating?

Tyroc said...

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Joan said...

Great episode, for so many moments -- The Dwight/Erin birth certificate, Kevin making out, Pam removing Micheal's battery, Jim picking flowers for Pam, Oscar giving in to the moment...

There was something creepy about the way the new secretary said "before he gets off," and I don't blame Phyllis for having that moment of doubt -- and I loved how Dwight was actually able to help Phyllis, after all. It was overall a great Dwight episode, starting with "I won an art contest!"

Altogether, a surprisingly solid episode.

Wendy said...

Seeing Dwight and Phyllis bonding again was great, but his interplay with Erin has also been a lot of fun. I loved the exchange about the birth certificate. Liberating Dwight is one of the best things to have come out of the MSPC storyline. The prank on Pam, the new dynamic with Michael and Jim—it's been a joy to watch.

Erin is pretty goofy. I like her, but I wonder what the plans are for her. She's already been in a few episodes, and I don't think she's even done a talking head.

That Vance Refrigeration guy with the pompadour creeps me out.

Angela's reactions to all the dancing was pretty great. I lost it watching Angela's face, trapped in the corner with Andy and Kelly dancing at her.

amitytv said...

Alan....Come on. No way did this episode start off as dumb and then get better. It started off as awesome and then got more awesome.
I laughed harder in the first six minutes than, well, I laughed a lot. I mean it started out with Dwight's version of a practical joke on Pam (and his laughing hilariously at himself!!!)and moves to Michael begging anybody to go to lunch with him, followed by his robot impression, and then Pam being forced to take his batteries out. And that's just the first three minutes.

It was so good, I panicked and thought it was the finale. It wasn't, right?

Anonymous said...

See, however much of an idiot Michael is sometimes, as misguided a leader he is, he was right - what the office needed was this cheesy fun cafe disco to get everyone to have fun and relax with each other and be on the same team again! Even ANGELA got into the music, and the look on Michael's happy satisfied face seeing that was priceless.

It was fun and sweet and definitely just the right episode to have after all the MSPC drama, for the viewers and the characters in the show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, Mindy Kaling is leaving!?! I wish she weren't!Well, she'll be on "The Office" for a while still, and there's always the chance her own show doesn't get picked up.

K J Gillenwater said...

I was so happy to see Phyllis get a little more of a storyline. Loved the zaftig new secretary at Vance Refrigeration. I hope they do more with that story...the girl was so protective of her boss and his time. Ha!

Also loved it when Michael held the music up to the vent so everyone in the office couldn't help but react to 'Everybody dance now!"

I'm liking Erin, too. I'd rather have her be the background person for awhile. It's more fun when we don't know a lot about her.

Tobey said...

Watching for the second time, loving it even more:

Dwight rushing to help Michael and Phyllis, shouting "I got your text! Who's Phillip? Who tipped you over--was it Phillip?" Hilarious.

Is poor Ryan developing an eating disorder? His one line was so funny, but sad.

Andy saying "I'm afwaid" and Michael's whole baby talk thing was too funny/icky.

Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg cracked me up (once again) as the warehouse guys. "There's girls in there?"

I kept waiting for something humiliating to happen to Michael, but instead, he got to win this one. What a fun episode--I'm inviting my friend Ashley to see it.

Lisa said...

It was an excellent episode - hilarious, yet moments that were so poignant. Michael sitting at his desk, dejected, eating his sandwich alone. "It might as well be dinner." It broke my heart... and then I was cracking up at Andy.

The past few episodes have been so strong! I'm sad the finale is coming so soon.

Otto Man said...

Kevin getting slammed into the wall during his make-out session. Priceless.

J.J. said...

I loved the moment where Michael's sad the dancing thing didn't work out and says that he can still hear the music in his head.

It's hilarious to me how often Michael says or perceives things in a way that is entirely informed by his experiences watching TV or movies. For him to hear the music and actually say/think he was hearing it in his head because of how sad he was, that was one of those great Michael moments where he doesn't know how to conduct himself so he takes his cues from people he's studied on TV.

Anonymous said...

They're making it look so effortless this year. I think probably one of the best ensemble casts on TV. I love Lost, but the people are so fragmented it's special to see them all interact, and some of them have only had a few scenes (How many Jin and Kate scenes? Even Locke and Jack, who haven't had a scene together this season). Granted this is because the Office is in an office and Lost is on craphole Island. Two great ensembles, but this Office ep really made me love their cast even more! A great all-round episode.

Loved that Michael thought the music was actually in his head, and he didn't think it was any big deal that he was hearing music.

Castaway said...

If anyone could watch that episode and not have a big smile on theirr face by the end, then "The Office" isn't for them. Because it was awesome.

Asta said...

At about the twenty minute mark I thought the episode was pointless filler with Michael reverting back to mere goofiness. But then one by one they made their way to Cafe Disco and by the time YMCA was playing I had a big stupid grin on my face that lasted after the episode ended. Not the funniest episode ever, but, as someone else said, it was gleeful. And I appreciated that while Michael's methods may seem crazy, he did manage to bring everyone together and seemingly smooth over lingering resentments proving, as a manager, he knows what he's doing.

sandra said...

This episode reminded me of how Conan always use to jock about how when the guest comes out, they would just dance through the whole hour. I feel like the writers had the same idea for this episode, and like others said it was really fun.

Steven said...

I liked the "ramming speed" shout out to "Ben Hur" as Dwight was accelerating Phyllis through the office door.

Dwight also had some nice lines when he took Phyllis to cafe disco:

1) He told Phyllis that he normally doesnt dance but she needed to move around and that they were playing a kick-ass song

2) When Vance asked if Dwight would give him Phyllis, he said something like "I can't give you what you own."

Joe said...

Tucked inside a fun episode where five of the saddest words from a character in a long time:

Michael, eating his sandwich alone said, "Might as well be dinner."

That's why the Office is good. Emotion inside the story like the cream inside the imaginary cookie Kevin wanted.

Dave said...

"It's hilarious to me how often Michael says or perceives things in a way that is entirely informed by his experiences watching TV or movies."

That's it - Michael is Chance The Gardener from "Being There."

A great line that nobody has remarked on yet: "I cannot force you to go down, but I can entice you." To which I shouted at the TV: "That's what she said!"

olucy said...

ita with Alan. This ep had some good moments, but really picked up steam when Cafe Disco hit its stride. *Loved* the look of glee on Michael's face when he caught Angela tapping her foot.

I'm happy to hear that Mindy Kaling is so successful, but just as happy to hear that she won't be leaving The Office permanently. The vibe between her and Andy made me slap myself up the head like a V8 moment: why didn't we see they'd make a great couple before this? Cuz....they WOULD!

Henry said...

I sorta felt the same way about the episode. I thought it really was gonna be a pointless episode, which was a real disappointment after seeing that the show was on its game the past couple of weeks. I think it was the pointlessness of Dwight's prank on Pam that did it. Then eventually, it sorta turned when it showed that these people -- quirky as they may be -- actually sorta enjoy each other. I can't hate an episode for that.

Two thoughts that stood out about the episode: Erin's a real dork (randomly dancing with Michael and Kelly in separate times); I loved Creed's little throwaway gag that he uses the tiny disco ball as a rearview mirror (and that he's actually worried he won't be able to see behind his car anymore).

Henry said...

Oh, did anyone get a flashback to the British Office Christmas Special when the party was in full swing and Pam and Jim decided to stop by? I was totally flashing on Dawn and Tim at that point. Of course, this didn't have the emotionally cathartic moment that the Christmas Special had, but it just reminded me a little of it.

To me also, Pam and Jim seemed like the kind of couple who would elope. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's that Jim and Pam seem like a no-frills kind of couple and a no-frills kind of shotgun wedding would be appropriate. But then, that was quashed by the sentiments in the episode so...

John said...

Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help but dance a little myself as the music went on.Linda, you're not alone. I was in bed and actually started to get up and do "the YMCA" as it was playing onscreen. Yeah, I'm a dork.

I think Andy took Kelly in the dance-off, too. The guy's got some moves (especially given that I was expecting him to trip over the chair or something)!

LA said...

I had so much fun watching this. The Andy-Kelly dance-off was fantastic. Those two need more interaction, they are golden together.

I hope Erin the receptionist becomes a regular cast member. She's a perfect addition to the gang.

weck said...

I loved Dwight's "Whooooa girl" with Phyllis. Also the Nard-dog on the chair was bona fide awesome.

Sister T said...

Enjoyed the shout out to Youngstown, OH, one of the few cities with a more depressing reputation than Scranton. That's a long trip (5 hours at least) on Interstate 80, Pam and Jim were planning. Sadly, I've driven it, and even been in the Mahoning County courthouse, so I was shouting directions to the TV screen.....then later I was tapping my foot like Angela. Fun, sweet episode. I was smiling a full five minutes after it ended.

Matt said...

Fantastic comments so far and I agree with almost all of them. Two things that have yet to be mentioned yet:

1) Creed walked out of the bathroom eating a chicken wing! Just one of those things that the writers make no reference to but perfectly fits his character.

2) Dwight's "What do you think history is?" to Michael right after Michale said "I don't need a history lesson" when Dwight was explaining the commonality of back injuries compared to other parts of the body. Loved it and had to pause the DVR so I could finish laughing and hear the next line.

Just plain old fun in this episode.

Andrew said...

What was great about this episode was the way that all of the characters had very little moments (eg how they kinda all sorta danced to the music coming up through the vents) and that the episode touched on everyone.

In particular,
-Michael, on eating alone, "it might as well be dinner," is heart-breakingly brilliant.
-Creed, on giving Michael the little disco ball, noting that it's his car's reear-view mirror.
-Angela walking under the limbo stick
-Dwight, to Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration, "You can not steal what already belongs to you."

And a dance-off. Someone got served.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Creed wasn't making the letters Y M C or A.

Chris

Anonymous said...

I can imagine a moment in the writers room where someone proposed an episode centered around this idea: everyone dances, in character, and sudden pandemonium/silence breaks out at the awesomeness of the idea.

Also, Steve Carell lip synching to "everybody dance now" completely in character also.

It was a great example of how much talent and insight these actors have into their characters.

--Anonymiss

Anonymous said...

I liked the "ramming speed" shout out to "Ben Hur" as Dwight was accelerating Phyllis through the office door.I am pretty sure that was an 'Animal House' reference.

Anonymous said...

This one made it clear, among many other things, that Paul Lieberstein is not the only person from his sibling group who has enomrous talent--brother Warren co-wrote this, and he should get credit because the episode absolutely hit the bullseye. I was worried based on past history (of the four previous penultimate season shows, only S2's "Conflict Resolution" was outstanding, with "Basketball" being too broad, "Beach Games" meandering beyond Pam's terrific moments near the end, and "Job Fair" just being an embarassment) and so I was smiling more and more as the goofy Cafe Disco idea began to take on more and more speed, so by the end I just said "That was a wonderful episode, one of the most entertaining of the year."

Because it's not set at a high school, this show wouldn't do a formal "prom" episode, but is it ridiculous to say that few shows in the 90210/GOSSIP GIRL/etc. world could put together prom shows that have the feeling of shared joy and exuberance that the impromptu dance hall here did?

Anonymous said...

"Creed walked out of the bathroom eating a chicken wing! Just one of those things that the writers make no reference to but perfectly fits his character."

Also: Michael writing his own name on his paper bag lunch. (I assume he packs his own sandwich...)

flem snopes said...

"...Dwight and Phyllis bond (as they did earlier this season in "Crime Aid") even as he treated her like a racehorse..."When he shoved a carrot into her mouth I had to pause so I could laugh it out without missing anything.

John said...
Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help but dance a little myself as the music went on.

Linda, you're not alone. I was in bed and actually started to get up and do "the YMCA" as it was playing onscreen. Yeah, I'm a dork.
Moi aussi, John, moi aussi.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe nobody's mentioned Dwight's "Jack Nicholson in the Shining" impression. Alsmost as scary as his Joker costume, and no makeup needed.

Wholi said...

"Would you like an espresso? Got to keep yourself dehydrated!"

LA said...

Also, Michael kept pronouncing espresso like EXpresso. Subtle, but cracked me up.

Number Five said...

Spiral Jacobs said, "Their esprit de corps was in the crapper, everyone was feeling hostile and negative, and what did they need? DANCE PARTY, of course!"

Agreed, and it was true for the audience as well. After seeing them all go through the MSPC/DM battle, it was just delightful to watch the dance party snowball, especially since the teaser/first act were standard Office bleakness.

I also think Andy won the dance contest hands down. Or is that chair down?

Anonymous said...

How about the fact Andy was, indeed, getting the "gay ear" pierced?

Kenny said...

No love for the immediate aftermath of Dwight's art contest prank?

Erin: I still don't know why you had me do that--
Dwight: Shut up.

Even in triumph he was so curt and harsh, not even letting her share in the joke.

olucy said...

I loved the Dwight "art contest" prank, but he caved way too soon in letting it known that it was a prank.

In the good old days, Dwight would have let that announcement "air out" for the rest of the day to watch Pam squirm. At least for a day, if not more. I thought it was a lazy out for the writers to have him acknowledge it almost immediately.

Sonia said...

I liked the "ramming speed" shout out to "Ben Hur" as Dwight was accelerating Phyllis through the office door.I am pretty sure that was an 'Animal House' reference.It was actually both.

Loved this episode -- in the category of "the dumbest things that made me really laugh" is Angela walking, head held high, under the limbo stick! I don't know why, but that struck me as hilarious!!

dez said...

Also: Michael writing his own name on his paper bag lunch. (I assume he packs his own sandwich...)Er, I do that, too [gulp].

filmcricket said...

"Michael writing his own name on his paper bag lunch."

Hey, in my office you have to do that or someone'll eat your food. And sometimes even that doesn't work.

victor said...

I hope Stanley was only napping

Following_Nate said...

In response to the query about whether Phyllis really thought Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) was cheating on her, I say "no". I believe the comment was just the writers' way of drawing attention to what was actually a subtle joke -- that Bob's secretary looks just like a younger version of Phyllis. I didn't pick up on that until the second viewing. Bob adores Phyllis, so there's no way he'd be cheating. But having a secretary who has the same "look", that's priceless.

I too liked Dwight's line to Michael "do you know what history is?" after Michael admonished Dwight's "history lesson" (injury report).

My favorite bit was Oscar grooving his head with his hands in his pocket. Perfectly capturing the awkwardness of a guy who's too shy and conservative to let loose in public, but wants to show he's still part of the action.