Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Office: So I guess now she'll have two toasters

Spoilers for "The Office" just as soon as someone tells me it's safe to look...

Wow. And here I thought Prison Mike was too cringeworthy. I had no idea what cringeworthy was. Wow. Just wow. During several scenes ("LADIES AND GENTLEMEN..." and the unwanted toast), I turned into Winona Ryder from "Heathers," closing my eyes and singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" at the top of my lungs so I wouldn't have to deal with what was unfolding in front of me.

Michael Scott was a little boy who never had any friends, never got any attention, never really learned any social skills beyond what he picked up on television. In the context of everything they've established about him over the seasons, do I believe he would make this big an ass of himself at Phyllis' wedding? Absolutely. Did I want to see it? No. It was too much, on too big a stage (the wedding videographer better have mad editing skills to make the film palatable for the happy couple), and Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) shoulda stepped in much sooner, six week vacation or no six week vacation. Michael saying, "This is bull(bleep)" was hilarious, and I even liked him pathetically pushing the empty wheelchair up the aisle, but everything after that went too far, for the show if not for Michael himself.

(Speaking of Phyllis' vacation, is this how Daniels and company are going to deal with the overstuffed supporting cast? Come up with different excuses for why one employee won't be in five or six episodes in a row? I guess Meredith goes to rehab next, followed by Creed serving some jail time, Stanley going into a diabetic coma on Pretzel Day, Kevin's band getting hired as the opening act for Sting's lute tour, etc.)

Outside of Michael being more appalling than usual, I had a few other problems with this episode, most of it dealing with poor Uncle Al. ("He has brown hair and dementia...") This is the second week in a row where Jim has pulled a prank that harmed more than its intended target. If anything, Michael was completely unaffected by the Ben Franklin gag, and here Jim had to know that Dwight was going to start hassling innocent wedding guests, even if he didn't realize it would result in a senile old man being tossed out into the street. The shot of Uncle Al wandering into traffic also crossed a line. I believe that the camera crew wouldn't interfere, but just from a comedy viewing perspective, the joke felt mean.

I'm sure the 'shippers are all rending their garments over Pam going home with Roy and Jim once again half-heartedly throwing himself into his relationship with Karen, but I thought everyone's behavior here rang true, and didn't just feel like yet another stall tactic in what we all assume is the eventual JAM Unification Project.

For me, though, the highlights of the episode were all little bits involving the supporting cast:
  • Stanley finally finding a use for the toaster he bought Pam and Roy (subject of a monologue delivered brilliantly by Leslie David Baker back in "Gay Witch Hunt"), only to get frustrated again when he realized Jim and Karen got the same thing;
  • Creed slipping his own card onto someone else's present (at first, I thought he was going to just steal gifts);
  • Kelly wearing white as "an emergency... (talking head) I look really good in white" (Appropos of nothing, I once attended a wedding where one of the bride's friends wore a floor-length white dress and went home that night with the bride's ex-boyfriend. Needless to say, she and the bride don't talk anymore);
  • Ryan slapping the bouquet out of Kelly's hands;
  • Toby's overjoyed, completely dorky reaction to having a hot date ("Toby! Yeah!," complete with weird cat-claw gesture);
  • Angela continuing her streak of totally uncalled-for insults of Phyllis with her "So white my eyes are burning" description of her/Pam's dress;
  • Kevin detailing Scrantonicity's other two gigs.
What did everybody else think?


SJ said...

Michael was a bit too over the top in this episode. Hilarious, cringe-worthy moments no doubt, but just a tad too unrealistic.

I loved the condition joke Jim played on Dwight...I think it's possible too.

velvetcannibal said...

Wow. Every time you've labeled an episode as too cringeworthy, it's been the one I've found funniest to date. I didn't mind so much Michael's "LADIES AND GENTLEMAN" because it was clear that it wouldn't have been as terrible if it weren't for his awful timing. The toast was what I expected from Michael. I don't know. I just loved the whole episode.

Loved the running gag of Pam's stolen wedding. Especially loved the quick cut after the P&R heart. "Pam & Roy." So funny.

I was impressed that they did get so much of the cast in there. There was even a shot of Oscar, though he didn't say anything. I'd love to see additional footage of Meredith slipping off with some guy from Vance refrigeration. The Ryan slap killed me. Probably my favorite part of the whole episode.

I guess I was okay with the Michael stuff because he did actually get thrown out of the wedding. He usually gets away with things to some degree. This time he was just booted. I do agree about the Uncle Al wandering in the street thing. I ended up thinking about the documentary crew that wasn't intervening to help him. Still, one of the strongest episodes in a while and way better than last week.

Mac said...

I actually had to leave the room during the speech, it was so cringe-worthy.

Anonymous said...

You see, I found Michael's behavior completely realistic, and I liked the fact that it made me almost unbearably uncomfortable. I like it when the show tries to cross the line of funny to be outright discomforting; simply being funny is too easy for these guys. I prefer cringing to outright laughter on this show It reminded me of some of the stuff Michael did in the first season.

Also, I liked the gag with the demented uncle. I love the way the show every once in a while goes to dark areas like that so casually like it were just another joke.

dc said...

Definitely agree - cringeworthy-iest. episode. ever. I was reflexively hitting my mute button whenever Michael came onscreen by about 1/3 of the way through the episode.

Ryan slapping the bouquet away was one of the top 10 moments of this season, imho. At the very least, it was definitely a laugh out loud moment for me. Toby's happiness and elation was also great. What was really great about those two moments, though, was that they followed immediately after Pam left with Roy, which allowed us 'shippers to momentarily rise from our despondent whimpering in the corner. The show does this kind of thing well - offsetting pain with comedy, and vice versa, quite quickly and sharply.

One thing I found interesting about this season is that towards the middle, there, every week, someone would have some comment along the lines of "best/my favorite/funniest episode ever." Someone different would be doing this every week, kinda hinting that the show was clicking on all cylinders. Recently, this trend seems to be replaced by a "most cringeworthy/most unwatchable because of Michael ever" comment from a different person each week. I suppose it's a show staple to have that tone, but I'll take greatness over dark jokes any day.

Anonymous said...

And now there are only six more episodes until late September.

Anonymous said...

dennis wilson: I'm pretty sure The Office got an extended order of 25 episodes for this season, so there should be more than six episodes left.

Anonymous said...

I agree on the uncomfortable excess of Michael's behavior. It's always been hard for me to watch other people make fools of themselves, and I had to pause the episode at least three times because he was so overboard.

It occurred to me that if this was the first episode of the show I watched, I probably wouldn't have continued. I still laughed at a lot of things, because the ensemble is great. But if I thought there was this much awkward in every single episode, I don't know that I would've given it a chance. I'm glad the ratio is not usually this heavily skewed.

Anonymous said...

I think I've reached a point where I can't watch Michael's shenanigans anymore. I fastforwarded through large chunks of the episode.

Adam said...

I missed the continuity on the toaster. Wow. I do love this show, but Michael was so cringe-worthy as to not resemble a human being.

Grimoald said...

You've talked about it before in that you don't really want the same levels of cringe-inducing material as you would with the British version, but that doesn't bother me.

Yes, I twice had to actually pause the show to gather myself before I could continue, but then I had to do that for the original too, and I love it. I guess is that I like that area of the brain being pushed as much as a general laugh.

I thought this was another fantastic episode, and I honestly can't remember whenever there was an episode that was simply very good.

Anonymous said...

I was cringing so much that I felt relieved when Bob Vance, of Vance Refrigeration, finally tossed him out of the wedding. But then Michael shouted the same thing on the way out that he did at his mother's wedding, and suddenly he was a pathetic little kid again, and I felt pity for him.

Anonymous said...

I liked the episode, but do think they went a little too far with Michael. The British version was always cringeworthy, but I always believed David Brent could be a real person and that someone might behave that way. Michael Scott not so much. He's just too over-the-top sometimes and I don't think a real person ever would have behaved that way at someone else's wedding. Those moments always take me out of the show because they just feel out of place and more "sitcomy" than this show needs to be.

I laughed at Uncle Al wandering the streets, though it did occur to me that maybe it was too mean. But once I realized the documentary crew was there I just assumed they'd never let anything really bad happen to him, so it was okay to laugh.

I also agree they're handling the Jam stuff really well. Around now is usually when it seems like a couple is artificially being kept apart. But I could totally see this situation playing out just like this in real life.

My favorite bits from the episode were definitely:
*the two toasters
*Phyllis's theft of Pam's wedding
*Kelly's "emergency" (mostly because everything Kelly says/does reminds me exactly of someone I know)
*Ryan's slapping the boquet away (I actually tivoed back and rewatched it immediately)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Something that occurred to me this morning: have we ever seen a Meredith talking head interview? I mean, ever?

K J Gillenwater said...

A little bit of Michael goes a long way, and they just had way too much of it in this episode. I would rather have spent time with some of the other office people who rarely get screen time. Lots of good opportunities for Kelly & Ryan interactions...and something with Meredith--it *was* an open bar!

I was NOT happy with the way the Jim/Pam thing worked out. I didn't expect a total make-out session on the dancefloor or anything, but I would have liked a little bit of awkward dancing or *something* between them. I also was really hoping someone unexpected would get totally drunk and do something completely out of character. Like Karen hitting on Roy when/if she saw Jim & Pam talking.


Not my favorite episode. Missed opportunity for greatness, in my opinion.

**My favorite part? The minister saying, "And do you Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration take Phyllis..."

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Michael stuff was too much. His character has been taken too far this season making him intolerable in too many areas. I fast forwarded through all his scenes after the wheel chair scene - it's too hard to watch Michael make everyone so miserable.

Unknown said...

Alan: I think I recall a Meredith talking head during the Take Your Kids To Work day, when she explained how her kid was suspended, and now she doesn't have to pay a sitter. But it's the only one I remember.

Darrell had one in the Casino Night episode, which was priceless, as he explained how he taught Michael some phrases to help with his inter-racial interactions.

Dinkin flicka.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a great episode and that Michael was VERY reminscent of David Brent in this one. I missed the Ryan bouquet slap since I was painting my living room wall while it was on, but will go back tonight and rewatch that scene so that I can see it.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Jim's prank going a little too far, being a little too mean. But it was worth it to see Dwight's excitement about keeping Micheal out of the wedding.

Anonymous said...

You know, Michael behaved unrealistically for a real person, but totally in character. I know they use the documentary setup and it's fairly realistic in terms of digetic noise and whatever, but I've found that I enjoy the show more now that I've stopped expecting it to be "realistic." Of course it's not realistic: Who would watch a reality television series about a paper company? It would get six episodes on PBS, tops, if it were real.

For me, one of the more heartbreaking moments was when Roy doesn't realize that the entire wedding is a ripped off from the one Pam planned, and she goes home with him anyway.

Unknown said... of the more heartbreaking moments was when Roy doesn't realize that the entire wedding is a ripped off from the one Pam planned, and she goes home with him anyway.

I thought Pam was swayed by Roy's apology about after he realized he hadn't helped her with their wedding planning. Between fessing up to not helping much and the dance, I was rooting more for New Roy rather than Same Old Jim.

Anonymous said...

I, too, felt the episode was a bit over the top. Amusing at parts, but not one of my faves.

By the way, did anyone catch the small, doll-house-sized refrigerator on top of the wedding cake next to the bride and groom statues? Hilarious.

Also, is it me or is Sting getting even richer than he already is thanks to NBC with both The Office and Studio 60 featuring his songs so prominently in recent weeks. In both cases, though, "Fields of Gold" was used quite effectively.

Anonymous said...

Meredith also had a talking head in which she said her New Year's resolution was not to drink...during the week. No idea what ep that was. She also had one that was cut in Gay Witch Hunt, something about Oscar being like all the other good gay ones.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Michael realize how awful his behavior was at the end? Wasn't that the reason he apologized to Phyllis? If so, it shows some growth.

Jim's joke was mean, but perhaps it was a representation about old habits dying hard and hurting a lot of people. After all, the pranks on Dwight, along with his denial of his true feelings for Pam, were common for him, and he's trying to continue that pattern. Perhaps he'll make one joke go too far while at the same time back himself into a corner while toying with the emotions of Pam. Just a thought.

floretbroccoli said...

I just love what they're doing with post-break-up Roy, particularly in this episode. He was SO proud of himself for remembering that the flowers matched the ones he got Pam for . . . the prom was it? But didn't remember that PAM had ordered those flowers or that they were the same ones planned for their wedding.

Finísima Persona said...

I spent 3 years working as a DJ, and I vouch that more than a few of the most cringe-inducing moments in the episode CAN (and often DO) happen. Of course, to have them all over the course of a single wedding does stretch credibility, but I doubt we watch The Office for its true grit and realism...

That being said, the episode was amazing. I, for one, enjoy Michael Scott's awkwardness and incredible lack of sense for what constitutes normal social behavior.

Ryan = brilliant
Scrantonicity = brilliant +1

dc said...

Meredith's talking head with the whole "not gonna drink anymore...during the week..." was from last year's Christmas Party.

Alan Sepinwall said...

LV, the cake-cutting bit doesn't even fit in with the chronology, since Michael was 86'ed during the toasts and not allowed back in until after Phyllis and Bob had already left. (Cake-cutting comes after the toasts.) Like the Diwali song from that episode, feels like a scene that was shot because they thought it was funny, even though it didn't belong in context.

Anonymous said...

I loved a lot about this episode - Kelly, Toby, Pam's chagrin at the stolen wedding. I thought we had approximately twice as much Michael as needed - the scene in Phyllis's dressing room bothered me the most. It wasn't so much cringeworthy as just creepy.

Sometimes I think there is a disconnect between the writers and viewers - they think Michael is funnier than he is and don't realize how hilarious the rest of the cast is. The proportions are off.