Friday, January 30, 2009

Sepinwall on TV: 'The Office' Super Bowl episode review

In today's column, I preview "The Office" episode that's going to air after the Super Bowl:
For a long time, I was disappointed that NBC chose "The Office" as the show to air after the Super Bowl. That's in no way a slight on "The Office," which has been on an amazing sustained run, dating to when it returned from the writers' strike last spring.

It's just that it's in its fifth season and likely as popular as it's ever going to be. It doesn't really need the added exposure, whereas NBC has two other wonderful, underperforming comedies in "Chuck" (which has a nifty 3-D episode airing Monday) and "30 Rock" (which, next week, guest-stars Jon Hamm from "Mad Men") that could use whatever long-term boost -- if one still exists -- comes from getting such a gigantic lead-in audience.

Then I watched the first five minutes of the post-Super Bowl "Office" episode, titled "Stress Relief," and all doubt disappeared. "Chuck" and "30 Rock" are both brilliant and deserve bigger ratings than they get now, but this is the right episode for the biggest stage television has left. At a time when we all desperately need something to laugh at, this is an hour of concentrated, explosive, 180-proof comedy.
To read the full thing, click here.


RichC said...

I just saw the most recent promo, which appears to show most of Dwight's "fire drill". I'm in tears. It's so funny.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until Sunday!

Unknown said...


I wasn't sure where to mention this (or if to email it to your Star Ledger address) but here's some good news from the Middleblog:

Sigh. If it only included a second season.

Zac F. said...

From the few promos that I've seen, this episode looks hilarious. I was laughing for a good 30 seconds straight when they showed what happens to the cat during the fire drill. :)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, let's not have any further discussion of the ads for this, which sound like they show way more than they probably should.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen the ads at all. Can't wait for Sunday to see my Steelers kick so much butt and then a kick butt ep of this show. I'm there, Alan!

Anonymous said...

I stopped reading the column after "I going to try to make him cry". I might skip a superbowl party and just watch it at home so i can watch the show afterward.

Anonymous said...


I loved the review and am looking forward even more to this episode (I'm even setting my DVR to record the two shows set for after the episode just to be safe).
But...I have to ask, what was so disastrous about that FRIENDS post-SB episode, besides that grotesque monkey's unwated return? I wouldn't say it was GREAT per se, but I also think a truly catastrophic show would not have kept a large fan base through 8 1/2more seasons of highly-rated episodes. Plus, inasmuch as JCVD's story sucked and Chris Isaak appeared to be asleep during his plot, both Brooke Shields' and Julia Roberts' ones were actually funny.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It was disastrous because it led directly to the creation of "Suddenly Susan."

And, really, other than maybe the Julia Roberts story (and even there, only the scene where Joey and Ross find Chandler naked in the bathroom), it's a pretty terrible episode, one of the worst ones outside of those last few, running-on-fumes seasons.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Your review is the polar opposite of Bianculli's, especially as regards the opening sequence, in his view a "Keystone Office Kops" ploy intended to misrepresent the show to newbie Super Bowl viewers:

The show opens with an extended slapstick sequence, in which Dwight starts an actual office fire, and inflicts a panic, in order to mount a lesson-learning fire drill. So much time and effort goes into this opening, hoping to please and hold the action-loving football crowd, that The Office begins by presenting itself as something it's not.

I don't want to stir the pudding, but: response?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't want to stir the pudding, but: response?

I have two:

1)It made me laugh hysterically, and funny covers for everything else.

2)The show has quite a history of slapstick, from Jim spraying Dwight and Michael with water on the way to the hospital to Michael hitting Meredith with his car to the bat flying through the office, to Michael chasing Meredith through the rehab center parking lot. It's one of several colors in the show's palette, and the Super Bowl episode uses a bunch of different colors.

drat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
drat said...

to bastardize a time tested quip, "i cut to a commercial and an episode of the office broke out."


Anonymous said...

Alan, you cannot be serious. I believe this was one of the worst 'Office' episodes to date. What a poor, poor showing for such a high rating spot. Just awful.