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July 23, 2014

The Office: Beach Games

by Jay Black, posted May 10th 2007 11:02PM
Where are the safety mittens?(S03E23) After last week's comment massacre, I was hoping to be able to come on and give this episode a glowing review that would turn the comments from "I wish Jay would die of some sort of exotic fish poisoning" to "thank you for re-affirming why I watch this show by providing a series of highlights from tonight's episode, plus a 7 rating... if you ever need a kidney, email me."

So which is it? More vitriolic bile or an army of willing organ donors? The answer, as always, after the jump...

I really enjoyed this episode a lot. I thought that it was a bit more low key than some of the previous episodes (hilarious sumo outfits not withstanding) and that suited me just fine. I thought that Michael's ridiculousness, always a difficult balancing act, was reigned-in to just this side of believable where it belongs. I thought that it was filled with a great assortment of gags, both character-based and farcical. I thought this episode was headed towards "classic" status and that writing my review tonight would be as easy as it is to get a glimpse of Meredith's breasts.

But...

Did anyone buy Pam's speech at the end of the episode!? If she had stopped with "Why didn't you come to my art show?", it would have been fine. When she pushed the Jim issue, though, the speech (and the episode along with it) took a turn for the worse. I had four major problems with it:

1) I just don't see Pam, flush with post-fire-walking endorphins or not, as being the kind of person to confront Jim so publicly regarding her feelings. Not because those feelings are invalid, but because talking about those things in front of everyone is impolite and incredibly disrespectful of Karen. Pam is not an impolite person. I realize that for the purposes of the story those things needed to be said to Jim and ultimately heard by Karen, but having Pam do it in an wildly out of character speech just smacks of sloppy writing.

2) For those of us who enjoy The Office for the soap opera as well as the comedy, what Pam said should have been a break-through moment. Think back to when Jim announced his feelings for Pam at the end of last season; it was so perfectly heartbreaking and real that I think my wife almost blew-up the TiVo re-watching it all summer. Tonight's speech, even though it was a season in coming, just felt forced. Do you think anyone will be using this moment as romantic methadone for the next three months? I didn't think so.

3) My internet nit-picky moment: walking on coals is not an accomplishment. Check out this site to see how it's done and why it's not a big deal.

And now, if you'll allow me to "Creed"-up a notch...

4) You cannot tell Toby in the beginning part of the episode that you'll be "wearing a two-piece" at the lake and then NOT WEAR A TWO-PIECE! I'm sorry, but that speech should have been given in a bikini. For the love of all that's right and natural in the world, that bikini was owed to me and the millions of Jenna Fischer addicts all over the multiverse. I will now stick an unbent paper-clip in my eye.

As always, I'm curious to hear your opinions on the speech. Did it seem natural to you? Am I over-thinking it (like usual)?

That being said, there was a lot to love in this episode:

1) Andy floating in a sumo-suit. Best single image of the year.

2) Stanley's brief flirtation with butt-kissing. "I can't do this anymore. I'll be in the van."

3) The look on Karen's face during Pam's speech. My wife, so much in tune with girl faces, gave this interpretation of the look she was giving Pam: "Back off, Bitch."

4) Dwight yelling at Ryan during the egg-walk.

5) "Like Amanda Bynes?" "Whose Amanda Bynes?" "She's from What a Girl Wants." "Oh, I love that movie." Just a priceless character interaction between two pop-culture-soaked dunderheads.

6) The sing-alongs. I have to say that these are probably my favorite Office moments of the year. Though the second choice of songs was either a rip-off or an homage (if there's a difference) to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, it didn't matter. I'm a sucker for sing-alongs and when you watch a bunch of characters who you've grown to love come together to sing one on a bus... well, that's the height of artistic triumph so far as I'm concerned.

Does thinking that a sing-along represents the "height of artistic triumph" disqualify me from ever writing seriously about anything ever again? Probably, but I don't care. I'm downloading The Gambler as we speak (legally, even!)

Question of the week: If you worked at Dunder-Mifflin and could pick one boss, who would it be and why? Extra points if you don't go with the obvious answer (Jim).

Is six the right number? It's just so hard to review anything without feeling judgmental.A potential first-ballot hall-of-fame-episode marred by a Ricky-Henderson-passing-Lou-Brock level bad speech means that I have to give this episode 6 Creed-Killed Fish out of 7.


(The Office - S03E23) How do you rate this episode?
1 - Worst3 (0.6%)
27 (1.4%)
313 (2.6%)
433 (6.6%)
589 (17.8%)
6183 (36.5%)
7 - Best173 (34.5%)

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hupp3l

I have to ALMOST agree with you on the pam declaration. thing is though that as she kept talking she ran out of words, you could see this was spontanious.

Did you guys see jims face on the bus when they drove home...I can't wait for the next episode.

I have to say the egg in spoon race made the episode for me. especially andy and kelly "I think I am near the big rock..." Andy: "No what are you doing..no!(in high pitched almost scream)"

May 15 2007 at 1:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brad

yeah, Pam's speech and coal walk was brilliant. They've done a fantastic job at developing Pam this season and Jenna Fischer has rocked it. Give that girl an Emmy.

May 12 2007 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris Lucas

Wouldn't Dwight need major medical attention after laying down in hot coals?

I know it's a TV show,, but it seemed he bounced back like nothing happened.

May 11 2007 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dapete

Seems to me that Karen is going to get the job...putting Jim in the wrong relationship.

May 11 2007 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michele

I agree - Pam's speech was totally out of character. When did she have this "I'm trying to be more honest" metamorphosis? Wouldn't she have at least been nice enough to publicly thank Oscar and Michael for attending her art show even while being angry with the others?

I'm sure I'm alone in this, but I actually think that Jim and Karen make a better couple. Karen's a fox.

May 11 2007 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

Pick someone new? But... I want Michael to stay! :(
He really breaks my heart sometimes, like the kids asking him why he doesn't have a wife and family in last season's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, and him just saying "... I guess it just never happened...". Also, him singing to himself in Phyllis' Wedding, and him coming to Pam's art show and saying that he's really proud of her in Business School. Yes, he can go way too far sometimes, but 9 times out of 10, he has good intentions.
I liked Pam's speech, and her walk on coals. I was really proud of her, and I want to see how things will go from here. I also loved the terrified look on Jim's face.
The cute and funny stuff...
*Poor hat-wearing Toby being left at the office. Yes, I wanted to see Pam in a two-peice too.
*The Sing-A-Longs. Even Angela joined in.
*"If Michael organizes a group hug, you stand next to me."
*Andy. Sumo suit. Lake.
*Voldemort! Voldemort! Voldemort!
*Michael believing that there is a "Point-Gold Star-Thumbs Up" conversion chart.
*Creed going all Gollum and eating a raw lake fish. And his hat too.
*I actually though Jim leading Karen into the water was cute; he was doing it playfully.
*"There's already a twist, you're carrying an egg on a spoon."
*Stanley is terrifying. Again, Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.
*Dwight on the hot coals was fun too.

I really enjoyed it. After the darkness and intensity that was Supernatural, I needed a pick me up.

May 11 2007 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Midnight Penguin

to jmalcom about the coals -- Michael made some comment when walking away from the coals about how he wasted 85 dollars or something like that. I took that to mean he paid the guy that we vaguely saw making the bonfire flames and then the guy also spread out the coals and set the whole thing up. I thought it was funny that Michael wouldn't have farmed out the job to Pam, since he farmed out the heating up 800 hot dogs thing to her as well.

No one else commented on how she managed to heat them all up - or how funny it was that Michael picked 800 so that everyone, if they were a championship hot dog eater, would each have enough to eat for the record. I thought that was one of the most classic Michael-isms of the season.

May 11 2007 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kevin

"Now he is a dick. It bothered me a few weeks ago when Pam went to him to comfort him and offer affection and he just “whatevered” her off. We are to believe that this guy used to have depth and suddenly shallowed up and became a dick. "

Whoa there. I have to disagree. I don't really know what he's done to deserve that. As he told Michael at the convention, he put himself out there twice to her, and twice she rejected him. So he distanced himself from her. This became especially important after Karen found out about their past and he admitted that he still had feelings for her. They can't be "just friends" to Jim. If he's around her, he's going to feel something towards her. And that would be completely disrespecting Karen and that relationship.

And after all that past history came out, you could tell that Jim was thinking about persuing Pam because he admitted to Karen(and probably himself) that he was still in love with Pam. But them, boom, she starts seeing Roy. His talking head: "I am REALLY glad I'm with Karen." It wasn't that she was seeing someone; it was that she was seeing ROY. Someone who he and she both know is completely wrong for her. He was possibly about to throw his relationship away for someone who still makes the same stupid mistakes.

I'm pretty sure the "whatevered her off" you talked about was after he was attacked by Roy. This was something directly caused by Pam. And not because she told Roy the truth, but because she got back together with him in the first place. I think he was still pretty mad/disappointed in her about that.

I think all of his actions have been very reasonable and justifiable.

May 11 2007 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RBear

I have loved every episode and every character - but this one, this one was just okay for me.

It had its moments - but I did not buy the whole Pam thing at the end of the episode. It would have worked better if it were a one-on-one talk. And what about Karen, who has been nothing but awesome, that was a slap in the face to her.

Spot on Jay - another great review!


May 11 2007 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eeeeradicator!

Yes, it's well documented that walking on coals is no real feat, given the low surface heat conductivity of the materials that are generally used. However, I think the point is/was the psychological effort involved: regardless of whether you know it's possible, it's still scary. Like bungee jumping, for instance. I might know that this cord and harness will keep me safe, but it's still kind of hard to convince myself to step off the edge.
Pam stepped off the edge, both with the coals and with her speech (which I did buy, with some minor reservations). I was breathless, just as I was during the end of Casino Night - not for the speech, but for the coals. At that moment, FNB became a reality, not just so much lip service. I loved that moment, just before she crossed over.

May 11 2007 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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