Friday, January 12, 2007

The Office: Duets

Spoilers for "The Office" just as soon as I ask my friend Long Tim to help straighten up my offive...

What a perfectly-constructed little episode. They've done funnier episodes than this one ("The Injury" and "Conflict Resolution," to name two), but the design of this one played out so well.

With the exception of Jim and Dwight, the sales teams paired up characters who haven't had much to do together in the past, and even with those first two, we got to see them in a new way: well-oiled selling machine. But what I especially loved was the falling-domino quality of the sales calls, how great the payoffs were to set-ups that I didn't even recognize as set-ups. I just assumed that Phyllis was trying to bond with Karen in an unfortunate way, that Happy Stanley made an appearance because Ryan was going to be doing all the work for him, that Dwight was being angry and random because he was stuck working with Jim. In taking notes on the episode, there were a bunch of lines that began with, "Ohhhh!" as I realized what was actually happening.

There were a few more serious developments. Dwight quits Dunder-Mifflin, in a sequence evoking his resignation as a volunteer deputy. Not sure how I feel about that one. If Pam didn't know all of the details of what Dwight did, she knew enough to be able to go to Michael and assure him that Dwight's New York trip had nothing to do with him. Plus, while I totally believe that Dwight would never reveal their secret love without Angela's permission, is Angela really so awful that she would cost Dwight his job to avoid becoming the next Ryan and Kelly? Okay, so maybe she is. I'm sure Dwight will wind up back at work soon -- and that Angela will unleash some kind of Biblical vengeance upon Andy -- but this was unsettling.

Meanwhile, Phyllis goes and outs the history of Jim and Pam to Karen -- and, worse, Jim tries to deny it. He gave it up pretty quickly once he realized she knew something, but that's still not a good sign for this relationship. Or maybe not. I need a ruling: if you're the Karen in this scenario, do you want to know this stuff? And if you're the Jim, are you trying to keep it a secret because you're still in love with Pam, or because you're trying to spare both women some awkwardness over a situation that no longer exists? I'm too jet-lagged to untie this particular knot.

Some lines/jokes of the week:
  • Ryan on Stanley: "I'm very flattered. I was his second choice after 'Pass.'"
  • Jim: "Oh, Young Jim... there's just so much I need to warn you about, and yet... I cannot."
  • Pam to Angela: "You seem so happy. I bet you wish you were like this all the time."
  • Jan on Dwight: "Where he was asked to state his business, he wrote, "Beeswax, None of Yours, Incorporated.'"
  • Dwight and Michael: "That's what she said." "Don't you dare!"
  • Andy: "Oompa-loompa, doopity-dawsome! Dwight is gone, which is totally awesome!"
  • Michael's computer: "Boobs!"
What did everybody else think?


Kristen said...

I've always assumed that Jim downplayed his attraction to Pam -- and now, to Karen, the "relationship" at all -- because he was embarrassed by it. He constantly was the one putting himself out there, and she constantly pushed him back. Not good for his ego, so he denies it was a big deal in order to save face. Understandable, imo.

And technically, he's right: nothing really DID happen, and then he left.

The silent moment of Karen and Phyllis in the car immediately after the salon stop had me HOWLING with laughter.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was one of the better episodes of the season and will watch it frequently, I think (The Office is my "go to" show when nothing else is on tv - I have episodes saved on all three Tivos for just that reason. Yes, I have three Tivos - shut up). I love the sales calls themselves - especially Michael and Andy's, because it showed once again that Michael really IS a good salesman and Andy kept messing it up because schmoozing Michael was more important than selling paper.

Anonymous said...

This was SUCH a great episode. So many terrific set-ups and payoffs. I think Jim's downplaying of the Pam thing was for both of the reasons you stated. I absolutely LOVE the Andy character. Honestly, even though Dwight has his funny moments, he's always felt the least real to me of all the characters. If they wanted to permanently replace him w/ Andy I probably wouldn't mind.

Another great line was Angela's "those are two people I hate more than anything in the world" about Ryan & Kelly. Seriously, a GREAT episode.

TL said...

"The silent moment of Karen and Phyllis in the car immediately after the salon stop had me HOWLING with laughter."....

....And "You can pay me back later for the makeover" was the capper.

Also, this episode was one more indication that Michael may be better at his job off screen than we're lead to believe from his antics on screen.

BF said...

Micahel should pay more attention when he watches "The Amazing Race". The gay team (Dwight & Jim) won season 4 while the firefighters (Michael & Andy) were basically kidnapped in Africa.

Another highlight was Angela trying to be sarcastic with Kevin.

The ending teaser, with Angela giving the stinkeye to Andy, was perfect. I can't wait for next week.

Lisa said...

>if you're the Karen in this scenario, >do you want to know this stuff?

YES! and Yes.

>And if you're the Jim, are you trying >to keep it a secret because you're >still in love with Pam, or because >you're trying to spare both women >some awkwardness...

A little of both at once, I think.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. Best episode I can remember since the one where Dwight went to Jan. Was that last season?

Seeing Angela's stinkeye definitely has me looking forward to seeing how this will all end. I mean, we all know that eventually all the Stamford staff will be gone, that Dwight will be back, the fun is seeing how we get there.

And yes, that includes getting rid of Karen. As much as I do believe she is more attractive, both physically and personality-wise than Pam (she has the most incredible smile), we all know that Jim will end up with Pam.

JMD said...

The writers are smart enough to know that if they ultimately pair Jim and Pam together, then the romantic tension that is such a staple of the show is gone forever. Ross and Rachel anyone? Jim played his cards and it didn't work out. Ultimately, that's much more satisfying (and perpetuates the tension and awkwardness). Besides, it looks like the show is prepping us for a possible reconciliation of Pam and her former fiancee, which will likely occur right before Karen vanishes from the scene, leaving Jim in exactly the same position he was previously.

Needless to say, another fine episode. I keep expecting some type of slump episode, but it never comes. So rare in TV.

Ted Frank said...

I think the consequence of the Jim & Karen conversation is that Karen just guilted Jim into another season of relationship; last week he was almost ready to break up before Pam heartbreakingly came to the rescue, and Phyllis just cemented things more.

The Jim/Pam problem is that we now know that they're both crazy for one another. So the only possible way to keep them apart is if they never have an honest conversation.

Ted Frank said...

NB also the "Amazing Race" reference and then the use of Amazing-Race-style cameras in the autos as teams were driving.

But that just made the loss of documentary focus in the car with Ed Helms and Michael all the more jarring, as the camera angle kept switching for reaction shots. Also unclear how the documentary cameras got into some of those sales calls.

Anonymous said...

fyi, I think Andy sabotaged the sales call on purpose, so that he could use the phrase "Schruted it", to cast further asperion upon Dwight. But that didn't work either, Michael was still mad at Andy for screwing it up.