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July 25, 2014

The Office: Women's Appreciation

by Jay Black, posted May 3rd 2007 11:01PM
No Phyllis in this picture... coincidence? I think not...(S03E22) I'd have to go back and do a scientific study of previous Office episodes to be 100% sure, but it felt like the first 20 minutes of tonight's episode set some kind of cringe-per-minute record. It might seem odd coming from an Office fanatic, but I've never really enjoyed the cringe stuff as much as I've enjoyed the more subtle character moments.

I was happy, then, when the episode took a less cringey turn at the midway point. What disappointed me was that I felt, maybe for the first time, that there was some mishandling of the characters for plot purposes...

I'm gonna change things up and start with the bad first. I'd like you guys to videotape me while I'm doing it and then we'll go over it to try and improve my form.

Not so good this week: Characterization! Where did this problem with Jan and Michael come from? I have seen no evidence up to this point that Michael was unhappy in their relationship. If anything, he was constantly trying to push them to the next level. While you might make the argument that Michael would do that regardless of whether he was happy in the relationship or not, I think the writers at least owe us a bit of foreshadowing before dropping a bombshell on us.

Also, did anyone else think that the first Pam "confessional" where she talked about wishing Roy still worked at Dunder-Mifflin was a little odd? It was understandable at first, what with a "pervert" on the loose, but when she starting saying Roy would be especially mad if it were Jim doing the flashing, it took an awkward turn. I mean, I don't know much about women (seriously, the only thing I know about them is that they don't appreciate it when you make a "farty" noise when they bend over -- that's it), but it seems to me that even if a girl has a crush on a guy, she wouldn't equate him with a flasher at the office. It doesn't feel right for Pam to think of Jim that way (even if she does have his "penis on the brain" to quote Dwight) and The Office usually excels at making character's words and actions feel right.

(As a side note -- has there ever been this many instances of the word "penis" on a network TV show before? I thought they should have put up a counter like the South Park sh*t episode).

Final not-so-good thing: Ryan. I've always liked how cold he is to Kelly (God knows I've seen relationships where a girl will Pollyana her way through epic disinterest), but I was disappointed in him for his email to Karen. Come on Ryan! You've got a little cutie-pie on your hands who absolutely adores you despite the fact you haven't made a single sale yet! You should learn to appreciate her.

(Now would be a good time to mention to some of our commentators that yes, I know these are fictional characters who do not actually exist. While I thank you for reminding me of this fact every time I criticize what I consider weak characterization, I'd like to point out that if I have nothing critical to say, these reviews become little more than a weekly, "hey, you know what was great?" session, which I would assume would get boring real fast!)

Hey, you know what was great this episode?

1) Michael as the "girl" in the relationship. It was a minor thing, but it just killed me that he was happiest with Jan when he was scrapbooking. Also, despite the predictability of the school-girl joke, it was still very funny.

2) Pam's prank on Dwight. Everything about it, from Andy's reaction, to Jim's appreciation of it (now that's a character moment done right), to the mustache-on-the-mirror reveal was hilarious.

3) While we're at it: Dwight was fantastic this whole episode. I just don't understand it: how is it that when Michael goes too far over the top I don't like it, but when Dwight does it I think it's great? Is it that Michael's the boss? Could Rainn Wilson possibly be a better comedic actor than Steve Carell? Someone explain this to me, please.

4) The guys in the women's bathroom. Kevin: "We should do this more often." Tobey: "I think we spend the appropriate amount of time together."

5) Michael's reaction to the knowledge that it was Phyllis who was flashed. I always wonder about an actor or actress who is picked to play an "ugly" character. Do they read an ad for "ugly woman wanted" and say to themselves, "Hey, I'm an ugly woman! I'd be perfect for that role!" Seems kind of sad. Further, what does it do to someone's self esteem when their character's unattractiveness is pivotal to the plot? I'm sure network TV money buys a lot of therapy, but still, it's gotta hurt, right?

6) Karen and the green underwear she picked out for Jim. So sue me, I'm a pervert too.

7.) Michael's ongoing and obvious attraction to Pam.

And that leads me to the question of the week: Now, I know I'm going out on a pretty ridiculous limb here, but is it possible that the reason they broke Michael and Jan up this episode was they wanted to introduce Michael as a potential love interest for Pam? While it sounds crazy, it would explain the sudden break-up and Michael's constant references to Pam's being the hot girl at the office.

Before you shout "No!" at the top of your lungs and punch the computer screen as hard as you can, consider this: Pam is still stinging from her split from Roy. That, plus her turmoil over having to watch Jim date Karen leaves her very emotionally vulnerable. As any of my ex-girlfriends or past hook-ups can tell you, when a woman is emotionally vulnerable, she'll make some pretty dumb decisions regarding men. NBC is in for the long haul with The Office and they're going to need to keep Pam and Jim artificially apart for the entire run of the show. A season 4 "experiment" with Michael might be the answer...

Let me know your thoughts in the comments...

The number 4. It's less than 5, but more than 3. It's totally better than 2 and 1 too. A surprisingly weak handling of character combined with fewer laugh-out-loud moments than I'm used to forces me to give this episode 4 Creed number-twos out of 7.


(The Office - S03E22) How do you rate this episode?
1 - Worst9 (1.5%)
210 (1.7%)
331 (5.3%)
453 (9.1%)
5188 (32.2%)
6164 (28.1%)
7 - Best128 (22.0%)

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Alex

100% disagree with you on this one. I'd even go so far as to say that this is one of the best episodes of the show that I've ever seen.

May 11 2007 at 10:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hupp3l

I like your review, and while I may not agree with you on some of the stuff I like the way how you say what you didn't like about an episode and especially characterization.

The office is a smart show and they should think before doing even the slightest thing.

May 09 2007 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MikeD

I've never, ever read a review of anything that I disagreed with more in my life...I've never taken an "Intro to Sitcom Review" class before, but good lord, some people shouldn't get paid to do this...and then have the nerve to email someone personally about it. Use the boards like everyone else! It's your job, grow some tough skin or you're just not cut out for the "cut-throat world of sitcom review"

May 07 2007 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cheryl

Ifferun = creepy. Angry / confrontational / rude blog posters creep me out. Get a life.

I don't understand people who always think this show is spot-on and hilarious. It is often too broad and inconsistent, and does a poor job of balancing air time for minor characters. It's better than most other things on TV I grant you, but thinking it is above criticism demonstrates that you have low standards. I rarely laugh out loud when watching it.

Michael Scott and Dwight need to tone down the slapstick. I miss those rare moments when Dwight plays against character. I think this show needs to challenge itself to be more subversive and less over-the-top.

May 07 2007 at 1:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Genevieve

Right on, Victor! I completely agree that the show loses me when it crosses the line from satirical to completely unrealistic (the "finger in the fly" joke). The best moments are always the subtle ones.

May 06 2007 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RBear

I totally disagree with getting a different reviewer. I look forward to the Jay's review after each show!

May 05 2007 at 8:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Keli

I disagree with the reviewer as well. I've gotten used to Michael being cringeworthy, so it doesn't shock me anymore. Sure, the finger joke at the beginning was ridiculous and immature, but that's how Michael is half the time. Then he calls everyone into the conference room and accuses them of being immature about the situation.

It feels like the reviewer just watches this show for the jim/pam romance and doesn't appreciate the rest of the aspects of the show. Maybe TV squad should pick a different reviewer for this series?

May 05 2007 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
amy

Also gave it a 5.

I actually liked the Ryan bit, his not acknowledging/coldness towards Kelly is always gold.

The Phallus/Phyllis (and all the Dwight scenes) had me in tears.

May 05 2007 at 7:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Victor

I think one of the other problems this show is running into is that the characters are all always ON. The beauty of this show in the earlier days was that these characters were normal, boring people just like you have in every office, and then when something would occur to shake everyone out of their blandness, we'd get to see glimpses of something darker or more bizarre.

Now, EVERY time we see Creed, he has to do or say something wildly inappropriate, usually in a criminal way. EVERY time we see Meredith, she's being rude and/or drunk. EVERY time we see Kevin, he's got wide eyes as he realizes something goofy.

The only characters that are now allowed to have normal moments are Jim and Pam.

When EVERY line is the character's catch-phrase (or catch-behavior), it lessens the impact and gets old in a hurry.

If I wanted to watch a show where every character recited his well-timed and over-rehearsed punchline, I can watch "According to Jim" or "Still Standing".

The Office just needs to reel in the ridiculousness a few turns. Allow the characters to exist as normal people from time to time.

It needs a firmer grip ("Oh! That's what SHE said!")

May 05 2007 at 12:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thorn

My biggest lol this episode was Michael's tip of the hat to Wizard of Oz characters - Pam needs courage, Angela needs a heart and Kelly needs a brain.

May 04 2007 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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