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December 21, 2014

Review: The Office - Double Date

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 6th 2009 9:01AM
The Office: Double Date
(S06E09)
There was so much comedic potential in this week's episode, that I ended up coming away from this one unsatisfied. It played out as essentially two mini-episodes, and while the second one was better than the first, neither was particularly funny.

Michael Scott is always funnier when he produces cringe-worthy moments via his cluelessness. Cruelty just doesn't suit him well, and the only time it really works for him is when he's dressing down Dwight. What I was expecting to see during his and Helaine's double date with Pam and Jim was some blissful obliviousness on Michael's part and seething anger on Pam's part. What we got was a Michael that was about as cruel as he's been to anyone in quite some time.

What did Michael expect when he started dating Helaine? It's one thing to have a tryst with an attractive older woman that somehow reminds you of that employee you have a crush on. It's another thing to enter into a relationship with her. Michael still has some immaturely-drawn visions of what his life is supposed to be like, and it's amazing to me that he never realized that being in a relationship with a 58-year-old might limit that. Maybe with his poor adding skills he thought Helaine was only in her forties. Not sure.

But the way he dumped Helaine, sitting at her birthday lunch with Pam and Jim, was especially cruel. Though I will admit being interrupted by a waiter right in the middle of his talk on fertility was funny, mainly because he just had to finish his thought no matter how embarrassing it was.

I never understood why, when Pam took so much trouble to avoid going on the birthday lunch, that she actually brightened up during the meal. Was she putting on a brave face? Being super-nice in order to mock Michael? Or was she truly touched that Michael's awkward teenage charms -- that scrapbook sounds like it was written and put together by someone in middle school -- was making her mother happy? There was so much more potential for anger and hurt feelings and discomfort to be broadcast across the table from Pam to Michael, but it never materialized.

As for the other mini-episode -- Pam hitting Michael in exchange for a raise and for retribution -- it was just silly. It seemed tacked on a bit. The humor of the story was definitely more lively than what I saw during the double date; Toby showing Pam how to put her weight behind her punch, Kelly talking about Pam's "crazy pregnancy strength," Meredith checking the men's room toilet to see if the seat was still warm. It was more of an integrated Office story, which is why it worked. The payoff wasn't so great, and I felt as unsatisfied as Pam did after she hauled off and slapped Michael for saying Helaine came on to him.

More fun stuff:

  • There isn't much to say about the Andy-Dwight polite-off. Nothing much in the way of funny there, and the fact that this was done just as a way to get people to lobby for Jim's dismissal made it even more unfunny.
  • It feels like Kelly and Ryan have become the comic relief couple now, with Ryan's "exposure in the workplace" photos and the "Subtle Sexuality" side project keeping them together. It was funny to see the camera around Ryan's neck when he and Kelly came into Michael's office. What were they doing right before that?
  • "Something's up. That paper was never supposed to arrive." Creed never has more than one or two lines per episode, but they're usually the funniest.
  • Interesting that the cheese Dwight got with the bagels wasn't cream cheese. So he goes all the way to New York to get bagels at H&H but just has a bag of what looks like cheddar cheese. Maybe it was made on his farm.
  • Nice job by Linda Purl as the about-to-be-dumped Helaine. And thanks again to her for being on our podcast this week.

[You can see clips and free episodes from our friends at SlashControl.]

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Derick Brown

Reading this feels less like a critique of the episode and more like a list of how you'd like to have written it.

I mean I guess it's well within your right, but I just feel like questioning how characters react is just undermining the writers. Reviews usually talk about the performances of the actors and how well things are cut and timed. Deciding how a character would react to a situation like Pam being charmed by Michael's juvenile style seems like you're trying to change how the writers envision her. It seemed perfectly reasonable for her to change her mind.

November 08 2009 at 3:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pamela Black

well, don't forget that michael had not one but TWO vasectomies when he was with Jan, which tells me that 1) having kids isn't his be all and end all in life-obviously he will go without it if it suits him and 2) after not one but TWO vasectomies, he's probably no more (and maybe even less-given modern medical technology) fertile than Helene.

personally, i think italy, snowboarding, triathlon-ing and kids were just his way of rationalizing what he was doing-trying to make it sound better than he's just freaking out over dating a 'grandma'--

which is completely hypocritical on his part, since I'm going to estimate his age as at least around 45-since we are in the 6th season-and 45 is plenty old enough for him to be a 'grandpa'

November 07 2009 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CC

The way I saw it, Pam was starting to realize how happy Michael made her mom and that's why she started to warm up to the idea of them dating. My sis thought that Pam was purposefully trying to break them up (hence bringing up how old Helene was, etc) - but I think it depends on each viewer's interpretation.

I don't think Michael was particularly cruel. Naturally, dumping someone on his/her birthday is awful, but I think he has a very impulsive behavior. He couldn't sit there, knowing full well that she was 58 and thus at a different point in her life than him in his, and be the doting boyfriend that he has been. I'm basically the same way - you just can't pretend like everything is fine when (in your mind), it's not. And perhaps he thought it would be better to end it right then and there, rather than dragging it out until later. Why prolong the inevitable?

I think Michael didn't realize how old she was (even though Pam is what - at least 30?) because he can be oblivious. Here is a woman that actually wants to be with him! He was close to freaking out already when he calculated her age to be 54.

November 06 2009 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

"I never understood why, when Pam took so much trouble to avoid going on the birthday lunch, that she actually brightened up during the meal."

When Michael realized how old Pam's mother was, he started to freak out. Jim and Pam noticed this. Michael freaking out was what made Pam brighten up.

Then when Pam realized Michael was going to break up with her mom, she tried to stop it by making Michael see how happy he made her mom.

That's how I saw it anyway.

November 06 2009 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BugKiller

Michael is clueless, but those few times when his cluelessness makes him as cruel as he was last night, that just kind of goes against the work Steve Carrel has put into making Michael Scott likeable despite his cluelessness.

Remember that great speach he made a few episodes ago about what was so wrong with him, and why he's actually a good guy who deserves happiness? Well, a lot of earnestness is undone by what happened last night.

What Michael did to Helene wasn't a very Michael Scott thing to do... it was TOO cruel.

It was kind of a David Brent thing to do, though.

November 06 2009 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peanut

Linda Purl dated the Fonz. Michael could do much worse.

November 06 2009 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Peanut's comment
bsgfan2003



I felt she ruined The Fonz!

November 06 2009 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rich

She dated Richie too, about nine years earlier.

November 06 2009 at 8:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jesse

Wasn't Pams mother in season 2 and wasn't she played by a different actress?

November 06 2009 at 10:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

Steve Carrell is 47, and the "40 Year Old Virgin" movie was a few years ago. So I think Michael is actually in his mid-40s. Making her about 10 years older than him, which is not much of a difference. I think the problem is that Michael is about 14 years old emotionally, and he still sees himself that way.

November 06 2009 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bill

I agree Joel. So much potential here. But the episode was very weak. I think it was a mistake to end the Michael-Helaine relationship so soon. There was some comedic gold in that relationship that was yet to be explored.

http://tvnewsandnotes.blogspot.com/

November 06 2009 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
beanspants1

if you are still wondering, I'm pretty sure that Pam was genuinely taken by Michael's kindness and thoughtfulness towards her mother, and that's why she wasn't so happy with him breaking it off in such a manner. But then the breakup re-affirmed that Pam was right all along, which pissed her off even more to the point of blows.

And Michael was confused by her age. I assume Michael is around 40, and probably thought she was mid to late 40's. That's still pretty old if you are worried about fertility without expensive treatments, but not around 18 years of difference.

November 06 2009 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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