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October 13, 2015

The Office: Chairmodel - VIDEO

by Jay Black, posted Apr 18th 2008 12:39AM
Kevin(S04E10) Hey Pam will you... wait for me one second while I tie my shoe?

For everything that happened this week -- a return to form for those of you who were upset that the previous two episodes strayed from the confines of Dunder-Mifflin -- I believe it's that question (and Pam's reaction to it) that will set up the conflict over the remaining episodes of the season. I'm about as good at reading female facial signals as Rain Man, but even I could tell that Pam's face during the "proposal" wasn't exactly filled with the kind of joy you'd expect it would be. Maybe the producers are just giving us a red herring and Pam's reaction tonight will be the equivalent of Lost's four-toed statue (interesting for a blip, then forgotten about) or maybe things are not all that well in JAM-land.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about the rest of the episode first...

After last week's "most uncomfortable dinner party in the history of the universe," Michael and Jan are officially broken up. This, of course, is calamity for Michael, whose biological clock is ticking louder than Marissa Tomei's in My Cousin Vinnie. He wants kids while he's "still young enough to play catch with them" -- just the idea of Michael Scott playing catch with a young child makes me want to call Scranton Child Services -- and as such he needs a lady.

This is going through his head at the same time he needs to pick out a new chair for himself. Pam is desperate for him to make his choice as she'll inherit his old chair (her description of why she wants it -- the "whoosh" sound it makes when you lower it -- will soon be a part of my new book, 6000 Reasons Why Jenna Fischer is the Cutest Woman on Earth: A fascinating look at one man's battle with Los Angeles county restraining orders).

Michael has become obsessed with the model in the chair catalog, though, and instead of making his choice, he is inspired by her to declare to the office that he wants to be set up on a date. This is met with the usual enthusiasm (Stanley can't think of a single person he hates enough to set up with Michael) as well as results in the usual actionable HR violations from Michael. My favorite? Trying to get Phyllis to admit her potential set-up was fat: "I'm just asking if she would capsize a rowboat." I hereby nominate "capsizing a rowboat" to become 2008's new euphemism for packing on a few extra pounds.

I've been a vocal critic of the Michael Scott episodes this season because whenever we have a Michael-centric plot, it seems to give the writers license to bend all the laws of reasonable behavior. As a fan of the show, I often fear that one day we'll be talking about how The Office was great until that one fifth season episode where Michael decided to knife fight a monkey because Jim dared him to. B.J. Novak, however, found the right balance tonight, grounding Michael's increasingly obvious sociopathy in a believable reality. This was exactly what we'd expect from Michael following a break-up.

While Michael deals with his broken heart, Kevin and Andy are left to figure out the parking crisis gripping the rest of the office. See, W.B. Jones are renovating their offices and the construction vehicles are taking up many of the usual spaces at the Scranton Business Park. This is forcing people to park in a satellite lot, which means, of course, that they have to walk.

I loved this B-Story! What more could you want? You had Bob Vance (of Vance Refrigeration). You had Andy and Kevin working together (a team with more comic potential than Turtle and Johnny Drama, if you ask me). You had a sweet Godfather reference. And you had it ending with Andy breakdancing by himself in the parking lot. You can't call yourself an Office fan if you didn't enjoy all of that.

The eye for detail we saw in this sequence could single-handedly serve as a counter-point to anyone who says that all people in Hollywood are out of touch with mainstream America. It was so dead-on in capturing the kind of small business owners who populate an office park, so perfect a satire of the kind of trivial problems that office workers blow-up into world-threatening catastrophes, that you have to think that at least some of the writers spent some time at a real office. Either that or they "majored in life experience" at Harvard, like the writers on Itchy and Scratchy. Regardless, it was pitch-perfect.

Dwight promises Michael to track down the chair model for him ('I swear, she will bear your fruit"), only to find out that she died in a car accident. Michael is so heartbroken that Pam is finally moved to set him up with a real prospect: her landlady. A quick coffee-date is made, and Michael is off to meet her.

Now, a lot of you said that last week's episode turned the uncomfortable-comedy screws so tight that you were almost unable to enjoy it. While I agree that last week had its share of painful-to-watch moments, I contend that Michael's reaction to seeing who Pam had set him up with -- a stunningly plain woman -- outdoes the entirety of the dinner party when it comes to discomfort. Seriously, I had to pause the TiVo and wait for the the scene to play out a little bit, just so I could fast-forward through it.

I felt so bad I even felt bad for the woman playing the landlady. Could you imagine that ad in the back of Variety? "NBC is looking for an actress for their popular late night comedy, The Office. Needs to be attractive enough that female friends upon hearing that you're single will make that sound women make (you know kind of like 'awwwwww', but trying to hold the pity back) and then say, 'you're too pretty to be single!' BUT, also needs to be UNattractive enough that when the men with whom you have blind dates actually SEE you, they are visibly disappointed." I mean, who reads that and is excited that it describes them? So, so uncomfortable.

It's the disastrous date that leads to the situation I talked about at the beginning of this review: Pam and Jim and marriage. Jim quips that after the date, Pam is going to need a new place to live and he, of course, offers his place. She tells him that she doesn't want to live with anyone until she's engaged (which is either quaintly old-fashioned or another a painful reminder of the breakdown in young-people's morals, depending on your point of view), which leads to some awkward marriage talk.

I say "awkward" not because of the content of the conversation: that was actually pretty sweet. My wife hasn't seen this episode yet, but I imagine that when she watches Jim smile and say that his proposal is going to "Kick your ass, Beasley," her crush on John Krasinski will grow so powerful that it will actually gain sentience and apply for U.S. citizenship.

No, it was awkward for little reasons: Pam's fading smile at the end of the conversation, her look of consternation during the "fake proposal," the fact that Jim bought the ring "a week after they started dating," which is right up there with "I think the stripper really likes me" on the list of "Top 10 Things your Friend Tells You that Makes You Think He's about to Get Hurt." It's entirely possible that I'm reading too much into this -- I've certainly done that before -- but did anyone else get the sense that a happy wedding without any drama is not in the cards for Pam and Jim?

We end the episode at the cemetery, with Michael and Dwight paying their final respects to the chair model by way of a ridiculously chomped-up version of "American Pie." It was wonderful, but watching it got me mad at NBC. See, if you TiVo The Office normally (without padding in a few extra minutes at the end of the episode's recording time), you would have missed the very funny "American Pie" sequence. I understand that programming a network in this day and age is increasingly complicated, but is pissing off the people who TiVo your episodes really the right way to go? The running time of each episode is 22 minutes; there's no reason why it can't fit in the neat little half-hour block that my TiVo says it's going to fit in. C'mon NBC, do the right thing here.

Other stuff:

-- We really need more Creed! I am desperate to know what he means to do with two chairs and why a third one seems integral to his plans. Consider the gauntlet thrown: Creed needs his own spin-off!

-- How great was Toby's face when Michael declared to the office that he "needed to get laid"?

-- The Five Families of Scranton Business Park: There's Michael Scott, Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration), Paul Faust (they call him "Cool Guy Paul"), W. B. Jones (Grade A badass), and Bill Cress (super old and really mean). If that's not a crew to rival the Corleones, the Tattaglias, the Barzinis, the Cuneos, and the Straccis, then I don't know what is.

-- It was nice to see Kevin win one. Really, it was.

-- A banner day for Michael's unwitting gay-bashing: "My little Oscar-Meyer Weiner... Lover" and referring to Oscar's homosexuality as a "condition."

-- This is our third Michael-centric plot in a row. Coincidence? Or do you think the producers might be doing anything they can to keep Steve Carell from jumping ship at the end of his contact?

Tonight's episode was solid, if a peg or two lower than the brilliance of the two episodes that preceded it. What's your take on it? As always, tell me how wrong I am in the comments!

How do you think Pam feels about getting married to Jim?
Oh, she obviously wants it!316 (27.6%)
She doesn't KNOW she wants it yet, but she wants it.354 (31.0%)
I don't think she even knows what she wants.347 (30.4%)
She doesn't want it.36 (3.1%)
Are you stupid? She wants ME!90 (7.9%)

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I thought Pam seemed hesitant because by saying that she doesn't want to move in until she's engaged, she's pushing Jim to define their relationship. I thought it was internal conflict, not awkwardness about how she feels about Jim.

April 19 2008 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't think Pam's face was reluctance at being proposed to. Moreso the fact that Jim seems to make everything a joke (Finer Things Club - Angela's Ashes) and she doesn't want to a) let on that it's affecting her and b) make too many jokes because of how her previous engagement went.

April 19 2008 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

skim - I caught that same thing. She had Jan's eyes for sure. Very creepy.

I also noticed the thumbnail thing.

April 19 2008 at 8:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the chair model was a Photoshop combination of Jan and Pam. Jan's eyes and Pam's smile.

April 18 2008 at 8:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They run their shows 2 minutes longer just to mess up our dvr schedules. It's to try to keep you from changing to another channel to record something else. I just manually program mine if they do that and miss that little 30 second scene at the end. Whoever is in charge of that at the networks are ASSHOLES and they need to stop dicking us around! It just pisses us off even more towards you stupid ignorant ASSHOLES at the networks!

April 18 2008 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know how your Tivo works, but with my Comcast DVR I can set the recording to continue past the half hour mark. I do that with all of my recordings just so we don't miss anything (even Good Eats recordings). I would recommend doing that to everybody who has a DVR especially as NBC is known to do some wierd scheduling occasionally.

It was good to see Kevin win a little victory when he has had so many things fall apart.

I think it's funny that the date was supposedly so plain looking. It made me think of how different characters look in a show after it's been on for several seasons. If you watch season 1 for the Office or Grey's Anatomy you can see a big difference in how the characters look. They start to become more "Hollywood". If this was season 1 of the Office I don't think we would have noticed anything in regards to her looks.

Did you actually end up watching that scene? If not you missed a great line "You're like talking to the old lady on the bus."

April 18 2008 at 6:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought this episode was excellent. I watched it in the computer lab and had to suppress the laughter when Michael exposed Phyllis's plan to set him up with a fat girl. Oh, and since I'm sort of new to The Office this episode has officially made me LOVE Jim. I couldn't help mouthing "I love you so much" to the screen. He is just soooo sweet and funny. Ok...I just needed to gush out my girly feelings :)

April 18 2008 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I definitely interpreted Pam's reaction as her fear that she will end up in another Roy situation with no engagement or no end to the engagement.

April 18 2008 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why can't the office just let jim and pam be happy and have a good relationship? the show has plenty going on for it - and jim and pam asa happy couple even have good storylines - that it would still do very well. don't shows realize yet that viewers enjoy seeing good, normal relationships on television (example: The Dubios family on Medium)?? i'm going to be so upset if they think they can only keep an audience if there is jim and pam drama. they don't need it.

April 18 2008 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really hope they end up okay, Jim has loved Pam for many years and it's okay that he bought the ring right when they started dating because he has known for years that she's the woman for him. After all, he basically stayed in Scranton simply to be with her. I can see Pam being scared simply because of her whole Roy situation, but Jim is such a great guy and she'd be making a big mistake not accepting his proposal. This episode was awesome and will definitely be in my personal top 5. The 5 Families part was hilarious (Kevin is a great character), I loved the whole set-up scene despite its painful feelings, I always love Jim/Pam storylines and any time Creed gets a chance to shine is alright with me. Great episode!

April 18 2008 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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