The Office: Baby Shower
This season seems to be committed to undoing last year's damage. The Michael/Holly storyline has been sweet, surprising, and funny. Further, it's allowed for Michael's character to have some breathing room; giving him his "own" Pam seems to have freed the writers from making Michael so ridiculous that you feel he's less like a mid-manager from Scranton as much as he is a well-meaning sprite from the dimension Ergo.
Now, let's just hope that they don't ruin all that progress by giving Dwight something unbelievable to do like spending the episode destroying a $1200 stroller. Oh, wait...
Tonight's episode was surprisingly strong. I say "surprisingly" because it was yet another episode with Pam doing the fourth-season Three's Company Chrissy Snow routine and only appearing for a few minutes each week via phone. I always assumed that the heart of the show was Jim and Pam (PB&J and all that), and that Michael was the comedy. Tonight's episode showed that Michael could be both.
When crazed whackadoodle Jan showed up and Michael reverted back to the beaten little man we remember from the "Dinner Party" episode, I figured it was going to be another par-for-the course water-treader. We all knew what was going to happen, right? Things like Jan doing something...
1. ..incredibly hurtful (like have the baby and not tell him). Check.
2. ..selfish (like stick the baby with Michael and go take a nap). Check.
3. ..off kilter and weird (like singing "Son of a Preacher Man" at her baby shower). Check.
4. ...jealous and controlling (like telling Michael not to date Holly). Check and double check.
Except that just when we were all ready to give this episode a B- for a solid but nothing special effort, Michael has a Jerry Maguire level epiphany, reverses course from what we expect him to do, and in sixty short seconds every person in America (who doesn't watch CSI or like baseball) is doing an internal "awwww..."
Michael and Holly's long hug was a great moment, organically built on what's come before. Watching a moment like that on TV -- so funny, true-to-life, and touching -- is like eating a Peanut Butter Cup Perfection from Cold Stone Creamery: you feel lucky that you live in a world where something like this exists, and for a brief second all is right with the universe.
Is it wrong to call a solid B- that gets wrapped in one single moment of awesomeness a stellar episode? Probably, but I'm going to anyway.
-- Sorry if I made too much of the Dwight thing in my before-the-jump tease. It really wasn't all that bad, just a bit much from him. I don't think the episode needed it. Dwight's a wacky guy, but I don't think he's a "destroy somebody else's property because $1200 seems too expensive for a stroller" wacky.
-- Man did they ever save a great moment for the end stinger. Pam and Jim calling each other and leaving messages at the same time was a beautifully crafted little piece that showed how hard it is for them to be apart while reminding us how much they belong together. A big screen romantic comedy would use something like this as a centerpiece, The Office uses it as a throwaway. Wowsa.
-- At the same time, though, is anybody else worried that we're headed down the road of more Jim and Pam angst? Yeah, me too. Here, Office writers, let my good friend Zack Mayo from An Officer and a Gentleman express my feelings about a long plotline with Pam and Jim growing apart: "DON'T YOU DO IT! DON'T!" Thanks Zack.
-- "...and that makes Michael... delusional."
-- My wife today expressed how sad she was Angela is cheating on Andy. I gotta admit, the two of them looked an awful like a cute couple when they were dressing up little Ass-turd in the horn of plenty. I mean, I want Dwight to get some (God knows he needs it), but I really like Andy. Where do you guys stand on this?
-- And, uh, yes, I know that I spent a lot of this review complimenting a comedy for its romantic moments. Maybe I have a pituitary disorder, but I love those elements of The Office. I can understand other people not enjoying them, however. Where do you guys stand on it? Too much? Just the right amount? Or do you want it to go full-on General Hospital?
As always, explain to me why I shouldn't be head of the Party Planning Committee in the comments.