The Office: Weight Loss (season premiere)
What about you guys? Did you flurj your friends at The Office? Well, everything is a-okay now. Your fictional friends from Dunder-Mifflin are back, and your good buddy Jay (quite possibly fictional, we're working it out in therapy) is back reviewing every episode mere seconds after it's aired! So, sit back, relax, and sharpen your commenting fingers! On to the review!
What's changed from last season? Well, not much: Jim is still not engaged to Pam, Michael is still crushing hard on Holly (and still somehow involved with Candle Jan and her sperm-donor baby), and Angela is still boinking Dwight while Andy contorts himself like Reed Richards to accommodate her every ludicrous demand.
Things move pretty quickly from there, though. Using the clever framing device of a weight-loss contest set over the course of the summer, we're shown the eight weeks we missed in a single hour.
First, Pam heads off to art school (at the Pratt Institute, where I'll be performing this coming Oct. 2nd -- I'll be sure to let you know if they're offering a Pam Beasley tour) and tries to keep up a long-distance relationship with Jim. We're shown a few glimpses at the difficulty in doing this: Pam kicking Jim out of her dorm room to counsel a girl over stolen soy milk, Michael hijacking their video-chat, and Pam getting a new set of artsy friends.
It was this last point that made me nervous. I think we all predicted last season that this was the obvious direction to go: Pam goes to art school, and drama is created when she meets the motivated, artsy-fartsy version of Jim. When Pam started talking to that chunky guy with the goofy hair, I immediately figured out the next twelve-episode arc. I mean, that had to be why he was introduced, right!? (Not to mention the fact that if Pam starts falling for him, it would give hope to the legion of fat, doofy guys -- like me! -- who have crushes on Jenna Fischer. We're talking a brilliant ratings ploy).
Greg Daniels, you magnificent bastard, you had something else up your sleeve! No wonder they call you "The Desert Fox!" More on that surprise in a bit.
Second, Michael is trying hard to keep Jim's advice about trying to be friends with Holly before making a move on her. This is incredibly difficult for him as it seems that she is his Imzadi; it's obvious to anyone that they belong together. As Michael plays it cool, though, Holly starts up a relationship with Oscar's yoga instructor.
I need a ruling from the commenters on this one. I think that Jim is absolutely, 100% wrong in advising Michael to become friends first. I mean, it worked out for him and Pam, but only after three seasons of verging-on-melodrama angst and a broken barroom mirror. I'm enjoying the awkward sexual tension between Michael and Holly -- for now -- but I'm not sure I can sit through another unrequited love storyline.
Third, Angela and Dwight are having sex right under Andy's nose. Well, not literally, as something that hot could only be shown on Spanish HBO. It seems that every time Andy brings up the wedding, it gets Angela horny for Dwight, and the two of them rush off to the loading dock to make a little Amish nookie. Andy's never-ending devotion to her starts winning her over, however, and she actually begins to warm to the idea of a wedding.
...Until, of course, Andy insists that his college a cappella "Here Comes Treble" perform at the wedding, act collectively as his best man, and crash with the newlywed couple for three weeks following the ceremony. After bending over backwards for every single one of Angela's demands, he says this is a deal-breaker. Angela's response? Beep Dwight for a little more loading-dock beeping.
We end with a huge surprise: Jim proposes to Pam at a rest stop. I think I speak for all thirtysomething men watching when I say, "Well, I did not see that coming." Also, I think I speak for all middle school girls when I say: "OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Seriously, what a great and unexpected move! Do it on the season opener after our baiting us with an episode of red-herrings about a possible art-school schism. I loved that it wasn't perfect or overly romantic. It was emblematic of what this show does best: capturing real moments between characters we love.
If this is what they pull out in the season opener, I can't wait to see what the rest of the season will bring.
-- Kelly: Creed sold me a tape worm. Creed: That wasn't a tape worm.
-- Ryan's back! I'm feeling ambivalent about this; on the one hand, it's nice to see him down a peg or three (and pining for Kelly), but on the other hand, it doesn't feel quite right that he's back as a receptionist. It feels a little forced.
-- I brought this up last season, but it's worth mentioning again: I think we need to see Daryl put a smack-down on Ryan for his collective sins against Kelly. C'mon November sweeps, don't let me down!
-- I still think the hour episodes are long by about fifteen minutes. I felt a little "meh" in the middle tonight, with the kickass surprise ending coming in and saving things Mariano Rivera style. I love The Office like my wife loves me: in short, neatly packaged doses.
-- The reveal to Holly that Kevin was not mentally challenged is another example of what makes The Office great. It took one of the funniest moments of last season, carried it over to this year's opener, then, in a quick, public revelation, went from funny to incredibly uncomfortable. The look on Kevin's face -- a mixture of sadness and bland, droopiness that really does look mentally challenged -- was textbook Office. Well played, sir.
-- Dwight actually owns a beeper? Did he buy it from Dennis Duffy, you think?
-- In honor of tonight's slim-waisted theme, I'm gonna keep this review lean and mean as well. As always, pick up my considerable slack in the comments!