The Office: Job Fair - VIDEO
I bring this up because I'm becoming scared that I might have lost perspective on The Office. I've sincerely loved every episode that has aired since its return from the break. Now, here's the question: is this because the writers spent the entire strike doing brain push-ups? Or is it because The Office is Charlie Sheen to my Kristy Swanson? My (glowing) review after the jump...
I think I've found something to criticize in this episode. I'm telling you now that a criticism is coming because this is going to be, for the most part, one of those breathless reviews that really bad movies quote in the advertisements (you know, "Fakey McLiar calls Made of Honor our generation's Seven Samurai"). Except instead of a fake writer who spent four days on a ridiculously lavish press junket, I'm a fake writer who just legitimately loves the show. If you hated tonight's episode, scroll down to the bottom of the page for the criticism.
Tonight's episode split the Dunder-Mifflin crew up into three groups: Jim, Andy and Kevin are taking a potential client on a golf outing; Michael, Pam, Oscar, and Darryl are attending a job fair at Pam's old high school; and Dwight, Angela and the rest of the gang are stuck back at the office.
Jim, after last week's surprise "formal warning," is doing something we haven't seen him do... well, ever. He's trying. The motivation is exactly what you'd expect it to be: he can't get fired because he's got marriage on the mind.
It made sense that Andy would come with him -- he is, after all, another salesman -- but I wasn't sure why Kevin came except maybe for his obvious golf skills. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I think that Andy and Kevin are great together and I really hope that the producers consider the two of them for the proposed spin-off (my idea is that we find out Andy is adopted, so he and Kevin move to New York City to try to find out more information about his mother's life there before she had him). Any excuse to see the two of them interacting again is a good one so far as I'm concerned.
Just a word here about Andy: he stole the show tonight. The blisters (from hitting 1200 golf balls in preparation of the outing), the quotes ("Getting my knot on!"), and the golf cart... if you didn't laugh at everything he did then I'm pretty sure you're a sentient robot who doesn't know what it means to be human. Get Geordi LaForge to put your emotion chip in and come get your Andy on.
Though the golf is fun (for us at least), Jim is making no headway at all with his potential client. Every approach he makes is rebuffed, with the client showing the kind of self-assured douchebaggery that only a guy who holds all the cards and knows it can muster. One of the things I've loved about this particular run of episodes is that the big bold humor -- like Andy's antics -- gets mixed so evenly with the small satirical strokes -- like Jim's client. I've never had to grit my way through a bogus golf game, but I have been in sales situations and tonight's episode was pitch perfect in capturing the ritualized dance of egos that goes on in them.
While Jim is golfing, Michael is leading his crew at the job fair. In typical Michael fashion, his presentation is completely off the mark. The one time that an over-the-top display would actually benefit Michael, he decides to go low-key. While other businesses have really fun booths with things like basketball to lure the kids in, all Michael has brought is a piece of paper. A single sheet of paper. With nothing on it. You'd figure the least he could would be to draw a circle on it (you know, for the kids), but no. Nothing.
Of course, this leads to no attention at all. The only nibble they get is from a somewhat nerdy kid named Justin. Michael, in perhaps the harshest moment of an otherwise lightweight episode, turns the kid down for not being "right" for Dunder-Mifflin. Michael tells Justin that someone as cool as him could easily be a "classy janitor" (which is just dying to be a commenter handle, isn't it?) When Justin leaves, Michael discovers that he has signed his name to the paper, which is a travesty: the paper was supposed to be a canvas to paint hopes and dreams on, now it's just a piece of paper. He dispatches Pam to get another sheet.
Pam goes to the old art room to get more paper and we're treated to an elegantly crafted piece of character work. While she's in there, she notices that there is a collection of student artwork on the wall and she muses that "Maybe it's still here...," referring to a piece she presumably drew but that she hasn't mentioned till now. She does a quick look over the wall and then dismisses the premise that it would be there as silly. It was maybe 15 seconds of screen time, but it carried with it more subtlety of character than a hundred episodes of a traditional sitcom.
(I told you, by the way: I drank the Kool-Aid. I'm selling all my possessions and moving to Scranton to spread the word. All hail Greg Daniels.)
The people left at the office are annoyed that Jim and Michael get to spend a day out, but they're stuck working. They figure since the manager and assistant manager aren't there, they might as well leave, which annoys the former acting assistant to the regional manager (or whatever Dwight is calling himself these days). He tries to put a stop to it and they show him exactly the amount of respect Dwight has earned: Stanley walks right out and the rest of the office leaves while he's in the bathroom.
The only one who stays is Angela. Without getting all gooey again about how well the quiet moments were handled tonight, let's just say this: the door to an Angela/Dwight rekindling is opened with a simple "bless you." It's a small concession from Angela, but it's enough to make you wonder what might be coming in next week's finale.
As Angela and Dwight are making their small peace, Jim makes a step towards his future: he actually closes the big client. He tries three times and all three times he's told no. He keeps at it though and unlike the Buffalo Bills, the fourth time is the charm.
This leads to a sweet moment where a delighted Jim gives Pam a celebratory kiss back at the office. It was lucky for both of them that Toby wasn't there (as it was, by any office standard, inappropriate), but Michael took it to be a symbol of what he loved about Dunder-Mifflin. His mood -- which had been darkened by his inability to attract not a single summer intern despite his great offer of, uh, no money or college credit -- is buoyed by the kiss. It showed someone like Jim, who is capable of doing anything, chooses to work there.
It's with that thought dancing in our heads that we're brought to the coda. Usually the 'after-the-last-commercial bit' is reserved for a throwaway gag, but tonight's episode, like Iron Man, saves some serious plot movement for the final scene. Pam stops by a graphic design firm and asks for an application. She doesn't have the requisite skills, but she's pointed in the right direction: if she wants to work in graphic design, the best move for her is to go to Philadelphia or New York.
So, at the exact moment that Jim is seen planning a future for him and Pam in Scranton, she's looking to get the hell out of there. Does anyone else smell the drama bacon? I get the feeling that those of you who aren't fans of the JAM drama aren't going to be happy next week. The rest of us? Well, as Christopher Walken might say: wowie wow wow.
(By the way, as a serious Mac fanatic, I had a hard time deciding what to look at in that final scene: the beautiful iMac or the beautiful Jenna Fischer. I chose Jenna, but only because of 500 million years of sexual evolution. Please don't tell Steve Jobs.)
I really do want to apologize for my fawning in this review. As I've stated, I fear that I'm losing perspective. If I was grading the last five episodes on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being any episode of Reba, 10 being "Casino Night"), I'd do so as follows: 10, 9, 9, 8, 10. That's a DiMaggio-like streak for any sitcom. So, I ask you, my valued and sometimes hurtfully, hurtfully honest readership: am I reviewing this right? Has it really been this good? Or have I spent two years studying every Office episode so closely for review that I can't see the forest for the paper-producing trees? As always, lemme know in the comments.
-- Creed apparently got all his work done "months ago." I think I speak for all humans everywhere when I say we want more Creed.
-- Pam: "I just drove twenty miles round trip back to the office to get Michael a single sheet of white paper. So.. I could have just had them fax it to me, I guess." Jim: "Oh, I like you." Yes, you do Jim, and so does every single other red-blooded American male, even the creepy television bloggers. In fact, I'd go so far to say especially the creepy television bloggers.
-- "I'm dating Barack Obama!"
-- I'll just say it again, Andy crashing the golf cart made me laugh like Cartman in "Cherokee Hair Tampons": I laughed so hard milk came out of my nose and I wasn't even drinking any.
-- It's apparently very hard to hide pregnancies on TV. Angela looks really, really pregnant to me. I can't believe we live in a world where George Lucas has the technology to make fully-realized unlikeable digital characters and we can't find a better way to hide Angela Kinsey's pregnancy. C'mon NBC, figure something out here.
-- The promised criticism: the fact that events tonight forced the unknown makers of the documentary to split into three groups, each with at least two cameras. We're to believe that a documentary about a paper company is able to maintain that kind of budget? Pssssshaw! (I know it's weak, but it's all I got.)
-- Finally, I'd like to apologize for my absence last week; I had a comedy show scheduled at the exact time I was due to watch The Office. I want to give out many props to my very talented colleague, Jason Hughes, for jumping in. I owe him some fluffy-fingering the next time I see him. Which, now that I think about it, doesn't really fit the definition that Darryl gave last week and, more, sounds incredibly dirty. Uh, maybe we should just stop here.
|Better (I noticed Jay had an eight in there, there are only tens when I watch The Office)||97 (11.0%)|
|It's been excellent; I agree with Jay!||392 (44.6%)|
|It's been good, sure, but as The Wolf said in Pulp Fiction, "Let's not suck each other's [CENSORED] just yet."||294 (33.5%)|
|I'm sorry, I gotta go with 'Meh.' I've been unmoved for five straight weeks.||83 (9.5%)|
|I hate The Office and everything it's been doing. I read these reviews simply to reconfirm my hate for the show!||12 (1.4%)|