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October 31, 2014

The Office: Baby Shower

by Jay Black, posted Oct 17th 2008 12:02AM
Ass-turd. Huhuhuhuh.(S05E03) You know, I hammered The Office pretty hard last year about its use of Michael. I was worried that Michael Scott was going the way of late-period Homer Simpson: from buffoonish but believable head bee guy, to too-stupid-to-function lesser bee guy.

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.

Other Stuff:

-- 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.

-- Ass-turd.

-- 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.

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Brent

I think the Jim and Pam stuff was just to show that long distance can be hard. I mean their whole relationship oftenr evolved around making jokes at the expense of people they both knew in the office, but he doesn't know her school friends and his stories about people at the office are being interrupted by her doing laundry. And then the end is just to show the magic is still there even if they are "out of synch" sometimes. I thought it was sweet.

I think this wasn't near as good as last week's episode, but it would have been hard to top that anyway.

http://tinyurl.com/5jd7jm - more thoughts

October 21 2008 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
slsteelers

I thought that Michael hugging Holly at the end was as natural as anything Michael has ever done. Yea it was kinda touching because Michael was so glad Jan was gone and he did the natural thing in Michaels mind and just hugged her. When Jan is around he is her monkey. When she is gone he can go back to being his own mixed up, thinks he's normal, Michael. The Office is hands down the best show on tv right now in my mind. There are so many characters that a half hour just isn't enough. There needs to be a spinoff with Creed as the star. Imagine Creed in Michaels position!!! And you thought Michael was bad!

October 20 2008 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

Jim and Pam? Lack of drama? Did you people even watch Season 2 and 3? Or maybe you have a different definition of drama than the rest of the world. Will they - won't they = drama. And oh was it some good drama. Much more entertaining than them being happily together, that's for sure. Admit it.

October 19 2008 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kate

I know I'm a few days late in posting my comment, but I don't like to watch the office unless I have no distractions. When Michael said that holding the baby left him feeling short-changed and looked at the camera as they cut to commercial, I got a little choked up. Kudos to the writers for allowing Michael to be real, not an extreme charicature of a meddling boss or a needy boyfriend. I even enjoyed the clips where he was holding other people's kids. I expected Michael to be doing something silly or stupid and the mothers trying to take their kids back. But it was a total surprise to see him acting so rationally and calm (although I suppose those could have been total strangers). The scene where Michael hugged Holly was nice too, but not as moving as the one with the baby.

October 18 2008 at 6:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andy

To anyone who's been in a long distance relationship, the end scene with Pam and Jim is a daily occurrence... and it can hurt.

October 17 2008 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katie

I too wish there was some kind of development with the "Dwandygela" plotline. This whole season cannot be one continuous series of Andy makes a cloying comment to Angela, Angela rubuffs him, and then hooks up with Dwight in the warehouse. Some development must be made other than a reference to the impending wedding.

Also, many people seem to be upset with the route the writers might be taking with the Jim/Pam plotline, but haven't we all been predicting a conflict of this sort for quite some time now?

It's not like Pam wanting to go to Art School was pulled out of thin air.

October 17 2008 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pasha

I love The Office but I really think the character of Dwight is getting way too over the top and out of hand. It's seems like they're tacking on these weird slapstick sequences for time constraints, which doesn't really make sense since they have so many deleted scenes. I hate to compare it to the British version but I can never picture Gareth doing half of what Dwight is up to.

October 17 2008 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jennifer

I dislike Pam and Jim, so i'm very grateful that they haven't been shoved down my throat this season. But like you, I see angst coming a mile away.

Andy is adorable and I think he deserves better. I think they're both in that relationship for the wrong reasons.

I want more Kelly/Ryan scenes please!

October 17 2008 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
monitorman

I think the Dwight - Angela liaisons have gone on far too long. It was a great twist to last season's finale, but now it has morphed into very mean-spirited behaviour.
Dwight made a comment last week about "cuckolding" by a "larger, superior male".
And Angela interviewed that she has a routine that let her "sleep at night", obviously in response to the question "How can you...?"
Andy has been an annoying jerk, but there's also something immature/childlike about his behaviour, which makes it hard to watch him being treated so poorly.

October 17 2008 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dan

i cant believe people liked the pam jim phone message scene. it was painful to watch. it was so fake and silly and trying so hard to be romantic. it was the worst moment in office history. sorry.. im normally not a hater

October 17 2008 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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