A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I whack some moles...
After a couple of episodes that finally recaptured the tone of the series but didn't bring a lot of laughs, the B.J. Novak-scripted "Happy Hour" was more of a mixed bag: very funny and/or on-model in parts, and then incredibly stupid in others.
Take, for instance, the use of Kevin. Kevin standing behind the windows making sex gestures and giggling while Andy and Erin talk about wanting to keep their obvious relationship a secret? Very very funny, and something Kevin would absolutely do. But Kevin repeatedly crying like a baby to make Pam lactate? Gross and weird and something where Jim and/or Pam would have slugged him the second time for sure, if not the first.
For that matter, I rolled my eyes at an awful lot of the Andy and Erin material. There comes a point where writing this relationship as Jim & Pam 2: The Dumbening stops being sweet and starts being, well, stupid, and I think we reached it here. Just because PB&J tried, and ultimately failed, to keep their romance a secret doesn't mean that these two have to automatically try the same gambit. Go somewhere else with it, please.
And yet the larger atmosphere of the Happy Hour night - and the idea that Oscar's attempt to ask out Matt the warehouse guy would lead to a really fun night for most of the office and warehouse staff - was really well-done and had a lot of nice moments for most of the ensemble. Darryl's new office is already paying dividends, as the "you can be gay with Matt but be straight with me" scene was a very dry, funny exchange between Darryl and Oscar. We finally got to see why Pam's friend Isabel might actually be into Dwight (she's a lot like him, just prettier), and we got some nice small moments like Phyllis's explanation of why she wears low-cut tops on nights out and Ryan and Kelly trying to concentrate on Dance Dance Revolution. And, of course, Oscar acknowledging Darryl's point that Matt isn't the right guy for him and then immediately running off to pathetically shoot hoops with Matt was a pathetic but believably funny moment.
As for Michael Scott as Date Mike? Another mixed bag. I get the joke - that when Michael's not trying to be charming and funny, he actually is charming and funny, and that his belief in himself as a performer always sabotages him - but Date Mike, like Prison Mike and some other alter egos before him, was just so over-the-top that it was painful to watch. And given that Michael was having some success with Pam's friend, and that Jim and Pam wanted to make this fix-up work, and that Michael has on occasion in the past been willing to listen to Jim's advice, I just didn't buy that Jim wouldn't have pulled him aside and been a lot blunter and more forceful about how badly Michael was screwing up what had been going so well only moments earlier. All the Date Mike shenanigans were a build-up to Michael forging a better connection with the bar manager (played by Amy Pietz), but I find less is always much, much more with Michael at his zaniest.
Overall, though, I'd say the good outweighed the bad in this one, but just barely.
What did everybody else think?