A review of "The Office" coming up just as soon as I taste a rainbow...
I've seen a lot of you complain a lot this season that "The Office" feels played-out, and/or that Jim and Pam (Pam especially) have become really smug and annoying. Though I haven't found season six to be as strong or consistent as season five was, "Sabre" was the first episode to really make me see the validity of either of those complaints. It was an episode that felt too reminiscent of a previous one (with Michael reacting to Sabre's new policies with only slightly more maturity than he took to Charles Miner), where most of the laughs came from relatively minor characters (David Wallace, Andy, Erin) and where I really disliked Jim and Pam for the first time, maybe, ever.
I was hoping when they announced that Dunder-Mifflin had been sold based on the strength of the branches, and of this branch in particular, that we might get a story arc where Michael was more or less left alone to wield his peculiar brand of managerial strategy. Instead, Sabre(*) comes in and starts dictating policy changes. I recognize that mergers and consolidations are a big part of corporate culture now, and lots of real-life Michaels and Creeds are being forced to learn a new set of rules after having years to get used to the old ones. But at the same time, the show has gone to this particular well an awful lot, notably with Ryan's brief corporate reign and then the Miner/Michael Scott Paper Company arc, and I'd rather see them try something different at this point.
(*) By the way, is there not a single hockey fan at Dunder-Mifflin Scranton? Perhaps one who's ever paid a visit to the company's Buffalo branch, where they have an NHL team whose name would have told them that it's not pronounced "SOB-ray"?
Still, there was some funny material in the main story, most of it taking place at the home of an unemployed David Wallace, now so lacking in direction and drive that he's happy for the first time in his life to see Michael Scott show up unannounced. Andy Buckley has mainly had to play the exasperated straight man to Michael since he first turned up in season two, and it was fun to watch him cut loose and play this pathetic creature shuffling around his house, coming up with terrible business ideas(**), jamming with his son on a "Suck-It" theme song, etc.
(**) When David proposed the idea for the Suck-It, my wife turned to me and said, "Every parent thinks that one up at some point or another. Then we realize it's stupid."
Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper continue to be adorable and funny as the oblivious, Bizarro World version of Jim and Pam. However, their overlapping confessions to the camera crew was one of two instances in this episode where I began to wonder about the consistency of that device. We saw in seasons past that the camera guys befriended Pam and weren't above interfering in the action a little (as they did by tipping Pam off to the Dwight/Angela secret romance), and I would have to think these guys would take pity on these two and clue them in in some way.
(The other documentary issue: if we assume that the film is something Dunder-Mifflin signed off on years ago, shouldn't it be an issue for new management? Even if it's a case where Gabe or Kathy Bates or someone does a double take and says something like, "Oh, yeah, that's part of the deal, too.")
As for Jim and Pam's daycare center interview, that's a kind of story I rarely like on any sitcom (even though I've faced childcare availability issues myself over the years), and this one struck a particularly flat note. When I find myself sympathizing with Joey Slotnick from "The Single Guy" over Pamela Morgan Beasley Halpert, something has gone seriously awry with the heart of the series, even if John Krasinski (who directed this one) can do a good Christian Slater impression.
Ah, well. At least it wasn't a clip show. And we do get one more new episode next week before yet another hiatus (this one due to the Olympics).
What did everybody else think?