Thursday, April 27, 2006

Urine town

This post will only be about "The Office." I may not get a chance to watch "The O.C." and "Earl" until the weekend. Since "Office" isn't really a show you can spoil, I'm going to leave this all on the main page (again, now that I can spoiler-protect posts, let me know if you'd like me to do it with everything, just with some shows, or never).

Last week, I mentioned seeing an advance copy of an an episode that made me feel like "The Office" had finally made The Leap from very good to great. That's next week's show, but last night's was so damn funny that I may have to reassess exactly when The Leap was made. It's been in reruns for so long. Maybe the Christmas episode? Or Booze Cruise? Valentine's Day?

I have a constantly-expanding list of Things That Are Always Funny (Al Pacino with a Cuban accent, Homer Simpson's whiny voice, the books of Carl Hiaasen), and to that I think we can add Rainn Wilson in a goofy hat. Dwight in the sheriff's uniform with the shiny boots was bad enough, but when he put on that Smokey hat, I just about died. And him carrying a coffee cup of his own urine around the office? Jim was right: this was the absolute worst day ever to be silenced by Jinx.

And speaking of which, this may have been my favorite Pam/Jim subplot to date. The pleasure she took in putting him in situations where he couldn't talk was great (though my recollection of the Jinx rules is that she also could have freed him by saying his name, or punching him in the arm once if he spoke on his own ), and his impression of Stanley was dead-on. (I'm assuming Krasinski does impressions of everybody off-camera, and they wrote it in.)

With "Arrested Development" gone, this is now the densest comedy on TV, and I feel like I need to go back and watch it again two or three times to make sure I catch everything. There was another squirm-inducing Angela/Dwight scene (two, actually, if you count the veiled birth control discussion in front of the other accountants), Creed identifying the marijuana by brand (of course, he would know; he's Creed Bratton), Ryan trying to get a job at the urine-testing lab so he can get the hell out of Dunder-Mifflin, and any scene with Kevin. (I've met Brian Baumgartner, and he's a really bright guy; his ability to do that dead-eyed stare is impressive.)

And in the midst of all the goofiness, there was room for some genuine heart that didn't in any way undercut the jokes: notably Dwight's look of disillusionment as he walked to the sheriff's station, and the final look shared between Jim and Pam. Can't say too much about the latter, since I've seen next week's show, but I can't wait to see what the hell Daniels and company try to pull off in the finale two weeks from now.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

What about the final line, where Jim is criticizing Dwight's relationship with Michael?
Wondering what the rewards in such a relationship could be, and completely missing the irony.

It's the most rewarding series for the faithful viewers since ARRESTED died (or until McNulty and his crew get back).

Nilbo said...

(I know I'm coming late to what have no doubt been dozens of conversations about "The Office", but bear with me - I'll try to be succinct.

I so wanted to hate this show when it first came on, having seen and utterly loved the original Gervais series. And when I tuned in the first episode of season one, I was totally vindicated, and from there on dismissed it and wouldn't watch. Yeah, talk about being in a catch-up situation.

I thank my kids, who persevered and got me to try it one more time. I finally did, this season, and good lord Jesus, don't you wish even half the stuff on TV was this good?

I LOVE that this series - like the Gervais series - is really slyly focussed on the love story and that all else serves that plot. I wonder if one in ten would describe this series as being a love story?

I agree about Dwight in a hat Always Being Funny - or as my daughter would put it: "Never Not Funny". But I would expand that to "Dwight being very serious about anything? Never Not Funny."

The killer moment in the night was the silent exchange between Pam and Jim after "You can tell me anything." Killer.

After your teases, I'm looking forward to next week even more than usual. I just pray that Pam and Jim never get together. Because that would end the series. And we just can't have that happen.

Laura Ingalls Wilder said...

My husband loves this show and I don't get it. Does that make me totally lame? There are just too many silent moments and I get uncomfortable and fidgity. Shoot, I know that this officially places me in the Have No Sense of Humor column, but I'm just being honest.

Tosy And Cosh said...

LIW - My wife doesn't care for teh show at all either. I wouldn't say it makes you (or her) lame--the fact is that this show requires the viewer to have a certain tolerance for squirm0inducing, uncomfortable humor. If you have that tolerance, it's a brilliant show. Without it, it's just uncomfortable to watch. Not a better/worse or smart/less-so judgement call, just a taste thing. I equate it to something like horro movies. If you have no taste for gore you won't like horror movies. If you do, you will.

highbrow said...

RE: Spoilers - Never do it! I LUFF spoilers! They don't actually spoil the show for me at all. They make me look even more forward to future eps!!

Anonymous said...

- Tim

Anonymous said...

"I want him to have all the urine he needs."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Really, who doesn't need as much urine as they can get?

And Laura, don't feel bad at all about not liking it. There are plenty of beloved shows that I just don't get or can't stand ("The Larry Sanders Show" comes immediately to mind), usually comedies that get by on making the audience uncomfortable, and yet I adore both versions of "The Office." You either go with it or you don't. And if you don't, that's okay.

Every time I write about this show in my column, I have this loyal reader who writes in to complain that he gave it yet another chance based on my latest rave, and he still can't stand it. I finally had to thank him for his unblinking faith in my opinion and then gently suggest he skip past any future reviews I write.

Anonymous said...

If it helps, I've been avoiding the show because it feels like I'd be cheating on the original, but I checked out this ep based on your review and loved it. They've gone in different directions with the characters, while staying true to the core of the whole thing. Pretty remarkable, really. Carrell is no Gervais, but everybody else is so good that I didn't really care.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love The Office, let me count the ways!!!

This week's episode was hilarious and as soon as it was over I ran upstairs to buy my Schrute bobblehead (c'mon June 10!).

My beloved husband got me Season One on DVD for Christmas this year and I can't wait for Season Two. My favorite episode was "The Dundies" - it's that episode (which thankfully repeated last week) that made me the obsessed fan that I am.

Alan Sepinwall said...

That's very cool, Jim. The first season was pretty good, but they had a problem writing for Carell, who too often came across as a bullying asshole instead of a clueless clown. (Ricky had the gift of always making you like him even as he was being horrible.) This year, they softened him up just a little (without ruining the joke), while also focusing more on the ensemble, including all of season one's glorified extras.

So, if you're feeling like a trip to the iTunes store for some episode downloads, start with season two.