Friday, April 13, 2007

The Office: Hey, I should have been nicer to Michael

Spoilers for "The Office" coming up just as soon as I reshuffle my Netflix queue...

Well, that one felt like vintage season two "Office," didn't it? I mean, the Michael plot is the sort of thing they can and have done this year (see his behavior throughout "The Convict"), but what really elevated the episode was the betting subplot, which evoked vintage Jim subplots like the Office Olympics and his fire drill games.

I know there's been some unhappiness with this season's lack of Jim and Pam interaction, but I think the larger issue has been Jim's minimal interaction with everybody. He has his one on one stuff with Dwight and Karen and Andy, but his promotion and his discomfort with being sent back to this place after his escape to the paradise of Stamford has isolated him from the office staff at large. He now views this as an actual career and not just a place where he's marking time, so he's backed away from his role as office cruise director. And I didn't realize how much I missed that stuff until he did it again.

It helped that so many of the bets were hysterical, particularly Kelly explaining Netflix to Ryan and all the proposition bets attached to that ("she named six romantic comedies"), and Creed (both actor and character) taking a big bite out of what looked like a real potato. Also helping: an apparent thaw in the Jim/Karen/Pam triangle, to the point where Pam could be a full-fledged participant and also compliment Karen on her plus-one strategy on the jellybean bet. (Kevin then splashed some cold water on the moment with his references to how much time Jim used to spend at that desk, but not too much.) I know that in real life, John Krasinski and Brian Baumgartner (who plays Kevin) have a hardcore video football rivalry going; I wonder if this whole subplot spun out of that?

Felt odd to have two Michael vs. Darryl episodes in a row, but it's a great dynamic, especially since the writers have decided that Darryl will openly disrespect Michael whenever possible. (Plus, hearing Craig Robinson say "shenanigans" made my night.) Michael's defense of his own tough existence was deluded brilliance ("I worked at a warehouse. Men's Wearhouse. I was a greeter"), as was his insistence on running through the suicide script ("Dwight, you ignorant slut!") a second time once the warehouse guys showed up. (Jim: "Well, you know, the first performance was a little off, but I felt they really hit their stride with the second show.")

A very, very strong episode. Some other random thoughts:
  • Was Creed pissing in the bushes, or in the mooncastle?
  • Unshun/Reshun shouldn't have been funny for as long as it was, but it was.
  • Did you catch "Drew" referring to Jim by his name (instead of "Big Tuna") for maybe the first time ever?
  • Brilliant setup/payoff: Michael fearing that, if the watermelon hit Stanley's car, it was a hate crime, followed by the two-second button before the credits where Stanley finds the watermelon.
  • I was waiting for someone to remind Michael about Jan. Boy, the shine came off that relationship pretty quickly, didn't it?
  • And the great thing about Daryl's final reason for not jumping is that it was a compliment, an insult and absolutely true at the same time. ("It takes courage just to be you, to get out of bed every single day, knowing full well you gotta be you... I couldn't do it. I ain't that strong, and I ain't that brave.")
What did everybody else think?


Unknown said...

Excellent point about Jim, Alan. Like you, I hadn't realized how much I missed Jim goofing off around the office and being the "leader" of the office. Not leader in the sense of the boss, but the leader who everyone trusts and wants to be around. Hopefully the show can keep that part of Jim around.
Overall it was a hilarious show. "If John Cougar Melloncamp ever wins an Oscar, I'm going to be rich." Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Darryl convincing Michael not to jump was the BEST insult/compliment I have ever heard. We had to rewind and watch it several more times to absorb that he really said it, and Michael really took it as a compliment. Genius!

K J Gillenwater said...

I also found the shun/re-shun to be very, very funny and well orchestrated.

And how Michael found the 'accident' that caused Darryl to break his ankle to be so funny.

The only thing I could wish for more of, are episodes that don't revolve solely around Michael. I would love to see more with the other characters. Ryan & Kelly's dysfunctional relationship always makes me crack up...but we only get a minute or two every week. I'd also love to see more Phyllis & Bob Vance, Stanley, Creed, etc.

I mean how many seminars can they run through? Diversity Day, Discrimination, and now Safety...The characters actually doing their jobs could be a goldmine of humor. I would love to go on more sales calls with Dwight!

Anonymous said...

Kelly explaining Netflix had me on the floor. So did Michael's comment about getting a lawyer if it was Stanley's car.

But I had trouble believing Michael would think he could jump onto a trampoline or bounce house and be okay. I kept expecting him to end up throwing a doll over the edge to scare everyone instead.

Abbie said...

The Stanley set-up and payoff has had me in giggle fits since last night. Standing there and staring at his car at the end... hilarious.

I like the seminars because they evoke so many jobs I've had and their annual requirements to go through these things, year after year. They've doled them out regularly since the beginning of the series, as if they wrote the whole list of possibilities down and made a conscious effort to only do a few of them every season.

BF said...

Guess I was the only one who thought Jim was being an unreasonable jackass for refusing to call Andy/Drew by his new name. Yeah, they sparred in the past, but A/D seems to be making a legitmate attempt to change his life. A "good guy" like Jim would normally respect that, at least until "old" Andy came out of hibernation.

On the fun side: Patrice O'Neal attacking Kelly and Ryan taking the his side.

AndyW said...

Really? I didn't like this episode. The betting thing was funny, but the Darryl-Michael scenes just felt uncomfortable. Particularly the opening scene in the warehouse: It wasn't funny. The episode sort of creaked along instead of flowing.
And there was no payoff at the end. In a typical "Office" plot, Dwight would end up jumping off the roof, or something like that.
"30 Rock" was funnier, but not on its A-game, either.

Anonymous said...

BF! I totally agree. In the context of the show it just seemed like Jim was being an ass and purposefully rude. Granted Andy/Drew doesn't really deserve any politeness but Jim's antics never really feel malicious, as this one did. I feel like there's a talking head of Jim somewhere explaining himself that didn't air.

"Anything that warms you." - Toby is still the best.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like it.

Maybe I was expecting too much, with this being Ed Helm's first episode back and all. I expected him to have more of a presence, but he really added nothing.

Also, office safety is something we all have to go through in the workplace, and I expected a brilliant parody of it (something along the lines of Conflict Resolution). No dice. There was so much potential and I felt the show didn't live up to it.

The betting storyline, to me, was funnier on paper. Maybe I've worked in an office too long, but people really do make those kinds of bets. It felt a little stale, like something I'd seen (in real life, and on other TV shows) a million times before.

I did enjoy Jim being the leader, but it seemed to rehash Office Olympics (which was way funnier).

The Michael-Daryl stuff also felt like a rehash since we just saw a similar storyline last week.

I can't believe I disagree so much with everyone, but I really thought this was one of the weakest episodes of season 3. The only bit that truly had me laughing was Stanley's stunned expression at the very end.

LE said...

I thought the execution of the betting storyline was brilliant. Since lately the episodes have focused primarily on Michael, it was nice to see rest of the office, and the bonding that they were doing.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't the funnist episode ever, but at least it was educational. Until Michael climbed up on that roof, I never knew Scranton was surrounded by mountains.

Anonymous said...

Count me as one who was disappointed. Not as funny as it could have been, as it should have been. Only laughed out loud once, with Kelly's Netflix.

ortho said...

I was disappointed that Michael didn't jump. Jim would make a great, new office boss.

Anonymous said...

"The Office" doesn't have too many weak moments and this was an excellent episode. The Kelly-Netflix thing was hilarious and Jim's acknowledgement of Michael's rehearsed suicide...hilarious.

Not the best episode of the year, but really good.

The Franchise said...

You made a great point about this being a vintage season 2 episode. I loved the cold open (Has there been a show that has done a better job with their cold opens than The A few months back I did a post about the top 10 Dwight moments from deleted content and I thought the number one moment was the deleted cold open from Conflict Resolution. If you haven't seen it you got to check it out.