Friday, October 23, 2009

The Office, "The Lover": The in-laws?

Spoilers for last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I give you the chills...

Out. Standing.

As soon as I realized Michael was going to have sex with Pam's mom in the wedding episode, I started anticipating what the fall-out episode would be like. We had to wait a week (and suffer through an episode I really disliked), but the end product absolutely lived up to, and in some ways surpassed, my expectations.

"The Office" is designed so that Jim and Pam tend to play straight man/woman to everyone else in the office. They get funny asides, but they're primarily there to add a human element to the proceedings, and to help ground broader characters like Michael, Dwight and Kevin. "The Lover," written by the veteran "Office" team of Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (and directed by Eisenberg in what IMDb is saying was his directorial debut, not counting a few "Office" shorts for NBC.com), flipped that around. Jim and Pam were still human, but for once they were the ones having the huge reaction to events, where Michael was relatively buttoned-down. (And when he got more juvenile, it was only to match Pam's level; the threat to "start dating her harder," for instance, only came after Pam ripped into Michael and said she didn't give a s--t about his happiness.)

What a superb episode for both John Krasinski (particularly in his terrified, exasperated initial reaction to the news) and, particularly, Jenna Fischer. Because this isn't a note Fischer gets to play, you could tell she relished it, yet she managed to be loud and disruptive and immature while still seeming like Pamela Morgan Beasley Halpert.

And I loved the way Michael was written (and played by Steve Carell) in this one. As with Stanley's outburst in "Did I Stutter?," he wasn't going to tolerate that kind of overt insubordination from anyone in the office, even his beloved Pam, but he's also afraid of her enough that he had to go get Toby to fight the battle for him. (Poor, pathetic Toby; he actually wanted Michael to be his friend, and was crushed when Michael told him off after the plan didn't work.) And you could see that he was genuinely hurt by the vehemence of Pam's reaction - not only the disgust that it's Michael Scott sleeping with her mom, but the thought that Pam doesn't care about him being happy. Michael, as we know, has few friends in this world - and most tend to be moms - but he thought he could count on Pam and Jim as two of those, and it messed him up, in a funny way, to have them so furious with him.

Much as I loved many parts of "Niagara," this was easily my favorite episode of the season so far, and possibly an "Office" all-timer.

Some other thoughts:

• The Dwight/Jim subplot with the bugged mallard was the perfect contrast to the main plot, because, as Jim points out in the note he writes to the camera crew, Dwight absolutely picked the wrong day to try screwing with him. The opera music added a nice Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd feel to the proceedings, and the payoff - Dwight was actually clever enough to use the mallard as a decoy, but insane enough to want to listen to eight hours of Jim talking about paper stock - was great, in that it gave Dwight some edge back. If Jim can always beat him, and, on top of that, if Jim is now blatantly Dwight's superior, then that relationship is too one-sided to be as funny as it once was. So Dwight needs to "win" every now and then.

• Speaking of Dwight, I didn't like that he was so pumped-up to see Michael do his Blind Guy McSqueezy character (which all the women in Michael's improv class understandably hate). The Michael Scott Paper Company arc seemed to signal a sea change between these two characters, with Dwight no longer hero-worshipping and sucking up to Michael; his reaction in the teaser seemed very much like the Dwight of a few seasons ago.

• The best part of last week's episode turned out to be a deleted subplot (up, as usual, at NBC.com and Hulu) about Erin's struggle to ingratiate herself in an office where everybody loved the previous receptionist. I like that there continues to be this weird tension between her and Pam, and that Erin seems to take Michael more seriously as a boss than Pam ever did.

• Is Creed crying at the aria because he's a musician and can appreciate beautiful music, or because it reminds him of a time when he was locked in solitary for three weeks?

• The "Frankie and Beans" running gag from Jim and Pam's honeymoon was a nice touch. It starts off as one of those inside jokes that's sweet for the people who understand it and obnoxious for those who weren't there, then became Jim's lifeline after Pam found out he knew about Michael and her mom before she did, and finally became funny for them again after Pam had a chance to calm down a little.

• Ryan Howard: Douchiest character in TV history? I feel like the fedora - and, particularly, his refusal to tell anyone where he got it, so that he can continue to be Cool Hat Guy - pushed him over the top, but I'm willing to listen to counter-arguments.

What did everybody else think?

71 comments:

Weck said...

Such a fantastic episode. My wife and I were laughing throughout, as opposed to a chuckle or two last week.

I loved that Stanley got the most animated we've ever seen him (with the possible exception of Pretzel Day) when Pam started chanting "No more meetings!"

Alan Sepinwall said...

Stanley had a couple of great reactions, Weck, including his double-take when Michael described himself as "sensual."

Bryan said...

Classic - a definite all timer I think. Pam's "who is it?" realization was terrific. I think everybody had a part in this one didn't they?

(as for Ryan - I haven't seen it yet - did the hat have any sort of connection to Basterds?)

Learning Juice said...

Great episode, there were a lot of laughs.

Stanley laughed pretty hard in the first Todd Packer episode, he also got pretty animated when Ryan was talking to his daughter in The Dundies.

purpletoonlink said...

I absolutely loved this episode - and it definitely made up for last weeks mediocre-fest.

I think Jim being pixellated when he realised Michael knew what car Pam's mum drove is my favourite Krasinski comedy moment. (Overall, it's gotta be the scene where he and Pam find out she's pregnant - in what I'm certain is Sacred Heart hospital.)

puddy77 said...

"That's messed up man." - Creed upon learning that Michael is sleeping with Pam's mom.
So there are some lines Creed won't cross. I died laughing at this!

filmcricket said...

The fedora was such a great touch, and I can't decide if it would have been better for no one to mention it or for the tag to have happened.

digamma said...

"with Dwight no longer hero-worshipping and sucking up to Michael;"

I guess that's what made it funny to me. Dwight genuinely finds Blind Guy McSqueezy hilarious.

I also loved Creed's righteous "come on, man" upon finding out about Michael and Pickle.

TL said...

Seriously, how good was Jenna Fischer in the scene in Michael's office when she went from wanting to hear gossip to realizing it was about her mom?

Alex said...

I guess Michael's lack of sense of boundaries really is his key deficiency... also the director did a great job of reaction shots during that pivotal meeting with Stanley and the receptionist

Chris said...

I agree, this episode was fantastic. The Office never really played this kind of tension and I was legitimately on edge throughout.

My only problem is that, we the audience truly like Michael, warts and all. I was genuinely sad when he said, "Well, what's so wrong with me?" Because it was pretty rare self-awareness on Michael's part. And after that, Pam's continued reaction could have been over the top. But they played it perfectly and even awknowledged that Pam might be going over the top.

Alan, in the first bullet point you wrote, "If Jim can always beat him, and, on top of that, if Jim is now blatantly Dwight's superior, then that relationship is two one-sided to be as funny as it once was."
Two should be too.

Awesome episode, and as always, awesome review.

Yet another anonymous said...

I generally like he Office a lot, though I wouldn't say it's my favorite comedy, but I haven't enjoyed an episode THIS much in a long time.

The writing was terrific, but it was all in the acting, and the fact that we've known these characters for so long, made all all the nuances so impactful. And this episode was all about nuances of expression and of reaction, with payoffs on things that have been building since the beginning of the show.

Even the small things worked - as you said, Alan, Erin, a character that I frankly wrote off when she came on board, added to the proceedings, with a small, yet story furthering role.

I hope they keep this momentum going.

(This is the first time I haven't erased the episode from the DVR, because I want to see it again this weekend.)

LA said...

I thought your jump teaser was going to be "as soon as I start dating her harder." I laughed my a$$ off on this one. All-time classic, for sure. Creed weeping over the beautiful aria absolutely killed me. So did Angela's bitchy glee over Pam's misery. Michael dating Pam's mother is going to be a rich comedy vein to tap.

Fett said...

Ryan is a magnificent douche bag, one of the most enjoyable jerks on TV in a long time.

I also thought this was one of their all-time best, especially as it gave every cast member at least one quality line or moment.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll have to give this episode another viewing because I have to say I didn't laugh at all last night.

srpad said...

Jim's reaction when Michael was able to name Pam's Mother's car literally made me clap my hands with laughter...loved this episode.

The entire atmosphere of the show seemed off kilter with Pam and Jim so out of sorts which I am sure was intential and made the episode even more entertaining.

One last point no one else has mentioned: you have to love smug, bitchy Angela.

srpad said...

Oh I forgot my one comic Book Guy momment. The joke about how their paper mill in South America(?) was poisoning people bugged me a bit because in a past episode they made another joke about how Dunder-Mifflin is basically a midddle man. They don't produce the paper; they just resell it. Still, just one geeky momment was outweighed by a lot of funny.

Q Ball said...

Great, great episode, but I thought Pam was overreacting to the extreme last night. I understand that her overreaction was part of the plot, but Pam's character has started to get bitchier and bitchier for some time now, and her insults at Michael in that meeting were a little too over the top for me.

christy said...

Loved it.

What I liked most about the fedora was that we caught glimpses of it long before it was commented on. I probably would have liked it better if it had continued to be unexplained. It really needs no explanation--Ryan is exactly the kind of dude to wear a fedora. Then again, Kelly asking him a "personal question" about his fedora was also funny in its own right.

There was a lot of great facial-only comedy from Stanley and all the background players. Stanley was really animated throughout the conference room scene, an awesome contrast to his usual indifference. Creed's reaction to the aria was hilarious, and Andy's was, as well. Very in character.

Yet another anonymous said...

Another thing: Dwight being upset that given Michael's new proclivity for dating Office mothers, he didn't choose Dwight's first. Heh.

I am trying to imagine Dwight's mother, and all I'm getting is Rainn Wilson in a wig, wearing some kind of denim/prairie dress contraption.

Bryan said...

but I thought Pam was overreacting to the extreme last night

I agree Pam was overreacting but she's pregnant - that comes with the territory. I think it's to the show's credit they aren't beating us over the head with it but Pam is still acting - and looking - the part. (

Bryan said...

speaking of Pam's reaction - loved her intial comment to Oscar when he said she was in a wheelchair and then her reaction.

LA said...

I am trying to imagine Dwight's mother, and all I'm getting is Rainn Wilson in a wig, wearing some kind of denim/prairie dress contraption.

I imagine the same thing except the fabric is burlap a la Lucy and Ethel.

Kent said...

Michael asking everyone what's so wrong with him finding happiness... totally manipulative. And effective. Seeing people's faces change and turn on Pam's decent into madness was very well done. Except of course for Keven who immediately went for the fist-bump.

I also laughed seeing Ryan wearing the hat in the conference room before they'd said anything about it. (Though it didn't look like a fedora to me.) One of the first times I've laughed at a Ryan bit in a long, long while.

The Michael/Jim lashing out at Toby was one of the best things they've done this season. I laughed so much.

Lastly, I love how they handled the network mandated inclusion of propaganda with Dwight's story of putting down hundreds of pets.

Matt said...

This could be the best Office episode ever. If not ever, at least in the past 50 years. When Oscar said his mother was in a wheel chair, I couldn't help but think "That really wouldn't stop Michael, would it?" And telling Pam in the conference that one day he might be her father and her boss, I'm surprised Pam didn't kill him where he stood. Pregnant women are crazy!

Anonymous said...

Pam over-reacting?? Imagine if your parents had just gone through a messy divorce and your mom hooked up with your boss at your wedding, who you really didn't even want there in the first place! Far from over-reacting. If I were in her shoes, I probably would have tried to strangle him, consequences be damned!

Henry said...

What a great episode after such a dud last week. I love that Pam reverted to the angry kid or teenager who's upset with her parents (I particularly loved when Pam screams at her mom into her phone and Jim is terrified to approach her with hot chocolate, then Michael scolds Pam for her mom in the conference room scene later), but that she was relatable because no one wants to see their boss get together with their mom. It's twisted, yet Michael seems to have no clue about this.

I still maintain Dwight's certifiably insane, though the whole thing about wanting to introduce Michael to his mom was hilarious to me (as was his freaked look at the camera when he found out he was sleeping with Pam's mom as he was doing the "blood gushing down" thing to Michael).

fuzzydunlop said...

The Office wins Thursday night by a mile. I wonder if wearing a fedora automatically makes you a douchebag...I'd like to buy one just so I can remove it in elevators when women are present, like Don Draper would.

LeeZy said...

I love how Michael took that call from Pam's mom in front of everybody... plus he already has a pet name for her.

I think Ryan's fedora might be a tease to the Webisode "Subtle Sexuality" series coming out soon... I don't know for sure, but it's a guess.

Christopher said...

Alan,

Ryan is definitely the douchiest character ever. (I can't decide which is worse -- if he's pocketing the $10 because she owed him $3, or if he's pocketing the $10 and reminding her that she still owes him $3.)

was "franks and beans" a reference to There's Something About Mary?

and I was hoping your jump tease would be "just as soon as my aunt blocks me on IM."

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a stellar episode -- I liked the fact that Pam overreacted a little, so we could feel a bit more sympathy to Michael. It seemed, at first, like the episode would be about "How much would it suck to be PAM!!?!?" and instead went for a more tender, but still funny, "How much it sucks to be Michael, and be reminded how alone you are."

I did think that, for all that, they should have acknowledged that a reasonable objection would be not that he's Michael, but that he's her boss, and THAT is what makes it inappropriate. It could have been noted by Toby or Oscar in a talking head - and that person could then immediately have concede that really, if it weren't Michael, nobody would mind.

Other than that small objection, I thought this was one of their best.

Larry McGillicuddy said...

FYI, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg mentioned in the Office commentary last season that only one of them was allowed to get Directing credit due to DGA rules, so this would likely be the 2nd time directing for both of them.

As for the episode itself, this one was terrific. I loved Jim's reactions in the break room - "Not now, Toby!" and "Then take a different way home man!" Also loved Creed tearing up Shawshank-style at Jim's choice of music.

MJM said...

I didn't like the episode at all. Pam was insufferable. I have lost all respect for that character. A few weeks she annoyed me when she listed off things in the office that should be banned during her pregnancy. And now she was acting completely unprofessional, even compared to Michael and Dwight. One of the worst episodes of the series.

Kirchhoff said...

One of the primary reasons I love this show is that the creators reward their long-time fans. Bits like Stanley's reactions in the conference room, Ryan's fedora, and Creed's weeping at the aria are far funnier if you've been watching from the beginning.

I'm also happily surprised at the development of Erin's character. She's as much of a freak as the rest of them, and that's starting to peek through. And Ellie Kemper is the cutest thing ever, please keep her on my TV, Office People.

The one aspect of this show that always makes me smirk is how they try to make Southern California look like northeastern Pennsylvania. They do about as good a job as they could, I suppose, but it usually doesn't work. For example, the scene where Jim brought Pam the hot chocolate, despite their coats and acting, it was obviously 90 degrees outside when that scene was shot.

starscream said...

Wow...I thought it was good, but that you all are seriously overrating it. Best episode ever? Come on.

Favorite part for me was also Creed crying. Amazing how well these writers know their characters.

Sharon said...

So happy to see that others are defending Pam's reaction. Over the top? Really? Seriously, think about it - your parents just got a divorce, you return from your honeymoon to find out that your boss is sleeping with one of your recently divorced parents. Your BOSS...I don't care how nice he/she may be - and while Michael is nice, he's MICHAEL - are you telling me none of you would be completely squicked out about it? If so, you are all far better, well-adjusted people than I am. Add the pregnancy hormones on top of that and, quite frankly, Michael's lucky she didn't toss him out a window.

tck said...

MJM...
Thank you. I completely agree with you. While I liked the subplots, especially the Dwight/Jim wooden duck–excuse me, mallard–I found Pam to be insufferable. I guess I just have a low threshold for selfish and childish behavior. While she had every right to be upset, she absolutely did not have the right to behave the way she did and it really bothered me. She was just plain mean.

Joseph said...

Jim's censored F-bomb when Michael starts describing her car is easily my favorite moment of the series.

Larry McGillicuddy said...

Since when have they ever been "professional"? I mean a large chunk of the memorable moments on this show have been when Jim and Pam have acted decidedly unprofessional and spent time pranking Dwight or generally wasting time at work. Why is this suddenly a problem now?

And to criticize Pam for the way she acted seems completely unfair. I mean, Michael Scott is dating her mother. She reacted about the same as I would've in the same situation.

Kensington said...

Jim lashing out at Toby was an inspired moment. Like in the the wedding episode where Jim asked Michael whether becoming a manager made you say stupid things, I love the idea that it also might make you become irrationally hostile to the HR guy.

Another great moment was Ryan pocketing the money for Kelly's mallard and then hitting her up for even more cash. What a douche!

LAprGuy said...

@tck -
I think that was the whole point: Pam's character has always been Michael's only supporter and cheerleader. That she reacted so passionately petulantly -- AS HIS DAUGHTER WOULD -- is why this worked so brilliantly. I felt that every exchange after she learned Michael was dating her mother was pure father-daughter interplay ... hilarious! (And too close to home!)

LAprGuy said...

(passionately AND petulantly)

Patrick Wynne said...

I dunno, I thought this wasn't one of their stronger episodes. It had several really funny moments, such as Creed crying at the aria or, perhaps the funniest moment of the episode, Jim's reaction to Michael knowing the color of Pam's mom's car.

But the Dwight subplot didn't work for me because it didn't really go anywhere. The payoff was that Dwight is crazy enough to listen to eight hours of tedious work-related talk? Like we didn't already know that after 5+ seasons. I would have preferred to see more of Jim trying to make Dwight act out National Treasure (or whatever it was he said). It was a good start when he called Andy into his office to make Dwight paranoid but it fizzled after that.

And Pam's anger was just too much. I can see her being upset but she was a real raging bitch to Michael. It just didn't seem in character for her, even given the revelation that Michael is shtupping her mother. I didn't buy it.

Peter Lynn said...

For once, NBC.com isn't blocking international viewers from watching the deleted scenes from the last two episodes of The Office, all of which feature Erin. Did Ellie Kemper hack the website to gain a bigger following?

Carolyn said...

I hate Ryan. That dude can leave the show ANY.TIME.

Also didn't like him in Inglourious Basterds where he looked oddly super clean next to everyone else. Somehow his character was the only one who had time to shower? Stood out like a sore thumb.

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful to have this forum to talk about my favorite TV. I used to visit a previously independent and now overrun by NBC/Bravo fansite where I do not understand in the least what their problem is. Pam is an evil b**** no matter what the circumstances. Truly bizarre.
I thought her response last night was delightful and appropriately over the top. It's MICHAEL. SCOTT.
Come on!

Henry said...

I'm watching the wedding episode again and with Pam being so nice and tolerant of Michael, one hopes that the new revelation that he's with Pam's mom and the accompanying tension between Pam and Michael will last throughout the season instead of lasting just a couple of episodes before re-establishing the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Easily the best of the season so far. It was almost hypnotic to watch Jim and Pam go nuts on the news (what a fantastic twist it was, kudos to the writer who said 'hey, why don't Michale sleep with Pam's mom?'), and just plain awesome. The portrayal of the emotions were real and understandable for all (Pam and Jim's shock and Michael's genuine hurt at their shock) were all really well written but also completely hilarious at the same time. And everyone rldr in the office were clicking in all the right

Imamarilyn said...

LAprguy, yes. It was a father/daughter thing with Pam and Michael. He called her by her first, middle and last name, just the way a parent does when correcting a child. He told her she needed to apologize to her mother. She told him he would never be her father. Absolutely petulant teenage girl. In the kitchen when she said she didn't care if he was happy or not, that was exactly what a kid would say to a parent.

Also Jim coming undone was fabulous. He is usually so calm and the whole thing just rattled him completely. I loved it when he said "It's all good." It showed how desperate he was to make everything ok.

Dan Jardine said...

Great episode, terrific bounce back from last week.

But I hafta say this: Jim is a great big pussy.

Anonymous said...

I think Pam's reaction was fitting, especially since I'm pretty sure in the episode where they all find out about Michael and Jan she says something along the lines of how can you, as a human being, come back from sleeping with Michael. And now, it's her mom.

Tom M said...

Like most people, I thought this was a great episode--particularly loved the Jim pixellation moment that people have talked about.

Obviously, going back to the end of "Niagara", we knew an episode with this theme was coming...and all I could think of was what a phenomenal ironic (Irony or tragedy? I always have that confusion that people have with that.) payoff this was to the offhand joke way back in Season 4's "Chair Model" when the staff has to submit blind date names for Michael, and Pam asks Jim who he was putting and Jim jokes "your mom."

As far as Pam's reaction to the situation...the fact that she didn't serve up her mom in "Chair Model" should've been an indication of how she'd react. I liked your point, Alan, about the sort of role reversal that went on regarding who seemed grounded and who seemed emotionally turbulent. To those who thought she was extreme or a b***h...we must've been watching a different show for the last 5+ years, because the way she handled it was really the ONLY believable way...there's no favorable reaction to Michael sleeping with your mom...at least not immediately. I wouldn't be surprised to see this as an arc where they, long-term, reach some kind of strange detente, but as far as just last night's ep, great television!

Imamarilyn said...

Michael thinking he could be Pam's father would make him the baby's grandfather! OMG! Remember how he was when Jan was pregnant? Too funny.

Yeah, Jim is afraid to stand up to Pam.

Michael G. said...

Very good episode. Jim's initial reaction was a highlight, as was the fedora. I wish they hadn't mentioned it at all, that would have been great.

Pam's happiness-to-dismay was well-played, but it reminded almost too much of a previous Office moment, something with Oscar. I think when Michael told his co-workers that he had sex in the office (probably with Holly) and it was on Oscar's desk.

actfourscreenplays said...

Alan, I know someone already mentioned "There's Something About Mary," but to confirm, yes, that's the origin of that joke. They appropriated it to fit the fact that they met a couple named Frank and Beni (sp.?). And for some reason I didn't find it as annoyingly cutesy-poo as their usual annoying cutesy-poo-ness.

And why am I the only guy who loved this week AND last week's "Mafia" ep.? Gabagool, people, gabagool! (no?)

I grabbed some nice screencaps because I'm good like that and I then inserted them into my kick-butt review, if you are so inspired to partake of my sweet meats...
http://wp.me/pCufw-7u

Cass said...

I had given up on The Office (found this season, in particular, to be boring) but after reading your review, I think I just might watch last night's episode!

Henry said...

A throwaway moment I liked: After Jim yells at Toby when he comes in, Toby walks away and sheepishly says, "What did I do?"

Henry said...

And I like when Jim jerks his head towards the mallard when he has his silent talking head.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this episode as well. I think Michael telling Jim that he was sleeping with Pam's Mom was one of the best scenes of the entire series. When Jim said, "You're messing with me", Michael replied with a confused, "About what?". Like he couldn't even fathom that this would be upsetting news to Jim and Pam. Great performances by Krasinski and Carrell.

I can't wait so see how this storyline plays out. I think its going to rival last season's great 'Michael Scott Paper Company' arc.

Michael G. said...

I remember what it was that Pam's reaction reminded me of. Or, I think I do: it wasn't Michael having sex in the office on Oscar's desk, it was Angela and Dwight.

Also, another good line from last night's episode: "Just take the parrot!"

KB said...

Ryan thinks he's Don Draper with that fedora but he ends up looking more like Frank Sinatra in Robin and the Seven Hoods. Pocketing the $10 was classic.

In the 80's Ryan would have been a bad imitation of Sonny Crockett.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody else think that the Ryan character has changed way too much from the early days of the series, as to strain credibility? In the first two (or three?) seasons of the show, Ryan was detached and bored, and he was a sympathetic character because he was this normal guy tossed into the daily circus that is Michael Scott's office. No way, for example, was that Ryan getting a ride to the office from his mother. He was the most normal person there. The new Ryan was funny at first because it was the way that that normal guy reacted to just a little taste of success, but it seems they've dragged the Ryan-as-douche gag on far, far too long at this point. Now he's wearing a Justin Timberlake fedora at work? The man who, in Season 2, said, "I don't want to be a 'guy' here. You know - Stanley's the crossword guy, etc., etc.'"

Thoughts anyone? Alan?

J. Hawes said...

Ryan gets extra douche points by responding to Pam's "Go ahead, sleep with everyone's moms!" with an overly offended, and barely noticeable "Woah, that's my mom you're talking about!" That was Ryan, right? He always has the best throwaway lines in the background of scenes. "Don't vaccinate it!"

JamesG said...

I was impressed with this episode from start to finish, and I am glad to see everyone generally agrees. This episode was The Office at its finest -- a great combination of comedy, drama, and awkwardness done in a more or less realistic way. I loved the moral ambiguity of the entire situation, as both Pam and Michael have good points and are able to sway the office workers back and forth during the course of the episode.

The ending scene with Michael walking to the elevator, alone and dejected, during Jim's voice over, is one of those dark yet effective scenes at creating real sympathy for his character (sort of reminded me of "Halloween" from S2). After all, it seems he presumably is quite happy with Pam's mom and now he's in a position where he either has to break up with her or alienate two of the people in the office he actually seems to have a good relationship with.

Other things I loved:

- When Michael explains how the women in his improv class hate Blind Guy McSqueezy, I can exactly picture their reaction and how his scenes would go.

- Everything about the Jim/Michael conversation was excellent, from Jim's expletive, to Michael describing how the seats go back, to Toby getting a dual lashing, to "THEN TAKE A DIFFERENT WAY HOME MAN." No way this could have been executed any better.

- Lost in the rest of the episode was how well Jim was able to balance his managerial duties, new obligations as a husband, and ongoing pranks on Dwight. I think he did quite well, all things considered.

- Lastly, Michael's winking at the camera when he hugs Toby is priceless. Did poor Toby really think Michael's new attitude towards him was genuine?

JamesG said...

One another thing -- what do you think the age difference between Michael and Pam's mother would be? I'm guessing Pam is supposed to be ~30 and Michael ~40, so I'd put Pam's mom in the ~55-60 range. Seems like a pretty big difference, but I could see Michael being okay with it.

Behan01 said...

I had the opposite reaction to this episode. I'm already sick of the whole "mockumentary" that has gone on way longer than reasonable, especially Jim using the reaction shot as a comedy crutch. Jim and Pam are just jerks. They act like they're above everyone else, and when Michael makes a connection with Pam's mom, they immediately get violently upset. They've always treated him with disdain, and I guess he deserved it because he's a complete goof. Still, this was over the top even for them. Learn some empathy, and get over your narcissism. You just aren't that funny. Frank and beans?

Jeff on Community did the exact opposite: he figured out that he needed to relate to the people at school rather than just make cheap jokes at their expense. Maybe he's more human than Jam, and it took him six less seasons to get there.

Imamarilyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Imamarilyn said...

Re: age difference between Michael and Pam's mom...Steve Carrell is 47 and Linda Purl is 54.

MikeS said...

A+ episode!

Like always with the Office, the best moments are the small details. Creed crying during the aria, Jim's reaction to realizing Michael was sleeping with his new mother-in-law, Jim jumping on Toby irrationally, Ryan brokering the sale of Dwight's duck and then pocketing the money.

I also liked Jim venting his frustration from the Pam/Michael situation by messing with Dwight, even though Dwight may have gained the upper hand...we'll see.

It was also fun to see Pam as irrationally angry and bitter to the point that she disrupted normal work activities, since she's usually the level head when office hijinks are at their worst.

Danny said...

J. Hawes said...
Ryan gets extra douche points by responding to Pam's "Go ahead, sleep with everyone's moms!" with an overly offended, and barely noticeable "Woah, that's my mom you're talking about!" That was Ryan, right? He always has the best throwaway lines in the background of scenes. "Don't vaccinate it!"


I took that as being Andy. I only watched the episode that once, but it fit Andys persona.

Diana said...

I also loved the "Gabbagool" episode too.
The "The Lover" episode was one laugh after another. I had to watch it twice as there was so much going on and it's so fast paced and I was cracking up from the jokes I was missing other jokes.