Friday, May 11, 2007

The Office: Fire, walk with me

Spoilers for "The Office" coming right up...

Way to go, Pammy! Oh, wait, I forgot I'm not supposed to call you Pammy. Anyway, not only did you finally find the courage to confront the office in general and Jim in particular about how lonely you've been this season, but you saved what had until that point been one of this season's weaker episodes.

The early scenes had promise: Meredith accidentally flashing the camera, Toby's look of despair at the news that he would miss Pam in a bikini (not that any of us saw that) and the cross-cutting between him alone in the office and the group singalong of "The Gambler," Kevin's declaration that "I just want to sit on the beach and eat hot dogs. That's all I've ever wanted," etc.

But once we got to Lake Scranton and Michael started doing the world's worst Jeff Probst impersonation, the humor got very strained (with brief exceptions like Stanley's speech, Oscar's contemplation of heterosexuality, Dwight failing to tell The Aristocrats joke, or Team Voldemort's chant). I just kept waiting for Phyllis to pull Michael aside and do her "Don't think, just tell me who you want to replace you" trick so he could say "Jim" and we could all move on to something else.

But then came Pam's speech, and I'm sure every Jam'ers heart grew two times as big after hearing that bit of courage. A very nice moment for Jenna Fischer, and something that needed to happen already. I'm not ready to lose Karen yet, even though I imagine she's a shoo-in for the corporate job, but I miss Pam and Jim having fun, too, whether or not they ever really try dating.

What did everybody else think? And do any of you know all the words to the "Flintstones" theme's second verse?


David J. Loehr said...

Some day,
Maybe Fred will win the fight,
Then that cat will stay out for the night.

And then it reprises the end. It was in my head all night.

Old Man Snap said...

"Or you can sit in the back of the bus."

Random shot of Creed noodling?

Both had me laughing, loudly. Almost maniacally.

I'm becoming more and more smitten with this show, and I've completely let go of my BBC-leaning snobbery.

A couple of friends and I watch The Office as a lead-in to Grey's, and more and more we're apt to leave The Office on the TV until the end -- but last night, we missed Pam's speech.


Anonymous said...

It was kinda weak. I liked Oscar's bit, though. I think the Pam stuff was pretty good but I do like Karen and wish she'd stick around longer.

We all know how the Brit show ended, but how long can this stay good? There are signs of strain already andthere is another season and more to come. I just wonder if the concept of the show is going to overload the burden of the whole show. If they're smart, they'll call it a day sooner then later.

Abbie said...

I guess Jan collapsed in on herself like a dying star. Boo. Is that really the last of Melora Hardin? I guess I assumed that the "corporate job" was Jan's job.

Really, not even the bits you mentioned worked for me, except the Stanley stuff. I was happy to see more Meredith, though.

I don't know if I buy that Pam feels ignored by the office. Sure, they didn't come to her art show, but I feel like she is usually at the center of the office's attention, so I'm not sure I felt like that worked.

You know who would be GREAT for the corporate job? Toby. (If Karen doesn't get it, which of course would make sense.)

Carl said...

I agree with Anonymous from two posts above. There are definite signs of strain and going-through-the-motions.

Those of us who read previews of the episode prior to its airing knew that Pam was going to do *something* at Beach-day -- and I'm glad that it was a tempered speech, rather than a drunken rant that ends with an awkward Jim, an awkward Pam and a glaring Karen.

I'm hoping the writers tone down the melodrama over the summer and can refocus on what The Office is supposed to be -- a workplace comedy. When the 5-second talking head clips of Kevin, Creed and Stanley are the only good things in the last few episodes, you know there's a problem.

Anonymous said...


I must really have a different mindset on how I judge television shows.

I laughed the whole episode-- which means good tv to me.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who was distracted by the obviousness of the fake hot coals effect? You could see the coals sliding on the glowing mat underneath.

K J Gillenwater said...

This episode really disappointed me. The only things I liked was Stanley finding some fire in his belly about the hot dog contest and the sumo wrestling, Creed catching the fish and then eating it (raw?), and Toby's reaction when he found out he'd miss Pam in a 2-piece.

Pam's speech just did not fit in at all. The character they've created would not confess in front of the whole office how she felt about Jim. Now, she might have confronted him one-on-one somewhere, that I could believe. But not in front of a bonfire when she hadn't even been drinking.

Plus, where was Karen's reaction to all this? They didn't show her sitting next to Jim. I think that was a vital shot that they missed.

I was really disappointed to think they wasted this episode in May sweeps month and leading up to the finale.

**By the way, I think there was a real missed opportunity for humor. I have been waiting for them to mention, even off-handedly, that Roy is now working for Bob Vance. Oh, well.

Old Man Snap said...


I have great respect for you as a TV writer and critic. I have a question for you, that said.

What is your take on viewers views on the world and how they take them out on TV shows? There seems to be a tremendous amount of backlash against what have been the it shows (Grey's, today's posts on The Office, etc.).

Is there a correlation with worldly frustration (war, gas prices, weather, ourselves) and how we take it out on our favorite shows?

Anonymous said...

The scene with the clan singing the "Flinstones" theme on the bus, complete with the final "WILLMAAAA!" was lifted right out of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," one of my favorite comedies. Do you think that scene was a homage or a "hope nobody notices" steal?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

The "Flintstones" scene felt like the Diwali song -- something the cast, rather than the characters, did.

Anonymous said...

Alan: I *adore* your post title!I was a huge Twin Peaks fan back in the day.

Abbie: I have to disagree with you. I think Pam was very hurt about the art show. I think most people there do ignore her on a regular basis. I say this b/c I was a corporate receptionist for over 8 years. I was the most ignored person in the building even when people were right in front of my desk sometimes. No, i don't have an axe to grind about that old job. It's just how I know she's being truthful. I believe the receptionist is *actually* one of a company's most important positions, but is treated lower than the worst.

Kristin: I really believed in Pam's speech. Just like the coal walk it was something she had to force herself to do in front of the entire group b/c she's trying to develop a spine. She's smart; she knows everyone there knows about the Jim and Pam saga. She knows most people notice how weird it all is between them.

As for Karen, they actually did show her briefly towards the end of the speech. She's in a reclining patio chair to the left of Jim (what we see.) It's very hard to determine what emotion she was feeling as the shot was so short, but I imagine she was gobsmacked, fearful and angry. If you recorded it go back and give a look-see. :)

Old Man Snap: I'm not sure why, but I did sense the backlash vibe, too. Sometimes it can seem a little scary. I'll be very curious to see what Alan has to say back to your question.

Anonymous said...

The bit with Andy floating away while he tried to get Angela to find help, and then seeing him in the background while Michael wondered where he was--I was doubled over laughing.

I loved this episode.

Bobman said...

You know who would be GREAT for the corporate job? Toby. (If Karen doesn't get it, which of course would make sense.)

Toby's an HR guy, not a manager-type.

Anonymous said...

This is minor, but I loved how Michael wore a Sandals t-shirt towards the beginning and had a Sandals hat on towards the end of the episode. It's just one of those small details that makes this show great.

Abbie said...

jennifer j,

Of course I agree that receptionists around the world are treated shabbily, and I agree that Pam has the right to feel hurt that no one came to her art show.

However, on this show, we have not seen anything (other than the art show) to suggest that Pam is ignored by the other staff members. In fact, since in most episodes, she is playing a major role in the activities, I feel it's true to say that she is often at or near the center of attention.

So I was calling out the writers on the decision to play that card in Pam's speech.

Anonymous said...

I thought the episode was expertly directed by Harold Ramis (lots of depth-of-perspective and background/foreground framing of jokes) and contained a beautiful narrative structure in keeping Pam on the margins of the story for most of it's length until almost subliminally she comes to the center. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

When did they sing The Flintstones theme? On my TV they sang "The Gambler" on the bus.

Anonymous said...

I liked this ep, I like this show, but I've said it before, they need to be careful about making the show too dramatic, or the gags too absurd. Dwight crawling in the coals was hilarious, but also ridiculous. Andy floating away was similarly hilarious yet not believable.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on maybe no more Melora. The sexiest piece of ass on the show and maybe one of the more down to earth (REAL) characters on a show that is quickly becoming strained and more unbelievable as the eps go by. I miss her already. At one time, I could believe Michael was a sales savant who rose to be the boss, but more and more, he is coming across as a barely function retard.

Anonymous said...

One of the weakest episodes of the season? Try one of the weakest episodes of the SERIES.

I only laughed twice.

And the Pam rant at the end was lame, lame, lame. Completely out of character.

Jason Snell said...

I guess I don't understand what people are looking for on "The Office." I thought this episode was really funny and a nice change of pace.

Unknown said...

a fine narrative and some great callbacks to previous episodes, but yes, one of the weaker episodes of the season - seemed better at pushing the story forward than providing actual enjoyment.

My favorite moment, though? The sabotage conversation. I am flipping for Angela as I get more tired of Meredith, which I think is just a one-trick pony.

Anonymous said...

"Super-sizing" hasn't benefitted The Office any more than it did Morgan Spurlock. The script was (just) okay, but Director Harold Ramis needed to pick up the pace and suck out more of the slack.

The picnic gags were probably too big for a show this nuanced in the first place, but I don't agree that The Office is running out of fuel creatively. It's just late in a long season on a demanding production.

Anonymous said...

Well I laughed my ass off watching this episode...except the end of course - I had tears in my eyes! I can closely relate to what Pam is going through. The whole Pam and Jim thing really hits home with me. I'm glad she finally said something to Jim...but I'm not sure that was the best time or place for it. I think she's going to be sorry for saying all that later. I'm curious as to what will happen next!

TL said...

When did they sing The Flintstones theme?

Did this happen after the commercial right before the end credits? Both my DVRs cut out right after Pam's speech.

The Franchise said...

I don’t know about you but I don’t like it when the episodes are so Michael heavy. Obviously Michael is great I just like it when the show humanizes him a little bit. In this episode he was just mean; it works better when we see glimpses of the kind Michael. This episode was reminiscent of Phyllis’s wedding where his actions were very cringe worthy. Great Andy episode though.

Anonymous said...

Michael ticks me off every episode so I almost (almost) loved when Pam said maybe she should have his job as much as her coming clean with Jim. I would've liked a little more reaction on his face, but I get it, he was shocked. Hey, and Stanley rocks. He makes me laugh every episode. But I was really surprised he was gullible to believe he'd get the job by winning the competition. Would Michael even really have a say on who got the position??