Review: 'The Office' - 'Sabre'
by Joel Keller, posted Feb 5th 2010 12:30AM
(S01E15) Why has this season of 'The Office' been so off-kilter? There have been promising episodes but very few that hit the mark. In fact, the only episode that can hold its own with classic 'Office' episodes is the Pam-Jim wedding, and I'm starting to fear that the show really is trying to figure out where to go from that high point.
And Jam may be the big problem here. They're not interesting anymore. But I'll get to them later.
So Dunder Mifflin is now owned by a company called Sabre. We don't quite know what they're all about except that they sell printers and they have a feisty CEO played by Kathy Bates. And in exchange for saving the branch's ass, they've asked for a few very reasonable changes. You'd think that even Michael Scott would embrace those changes. You'd be wrong.
Look, Michael can be petty, but sometimes it's amazing how truly petty he can be. He can't drink water out of tiny cups anymore? He was really willing to get fired over that? Oh, sure, Michael was bristling over the changes -- however small -- that Sabre was implementing on the office because he was used to it being his domain where he made the rules. But, jeez, you'd think even he'd see the wisdom of sacrificing Facebook access for, you know, having an actual job.
I'm wondering if Sabre (which Michael and the staff thought was pronounced "sab-ruh") is going to show their true nature over the next few episodes. Everything seems hunky-dory, with corporate-babble spewing videos starring Christian Slater and environmentally-friendly policies. But that Jo Bennett seems like a hard-ass, and she made sure her message to Michael about his complaints cut right through her Southern charm. It'll be interesting to explore, only if the company somehow either gets progressively more evil or Michael thinks they're getting more evil.
Here's the problem, though: it didn't come off very funny. Maybe because Michael's pettiness seemed idiotic in this case, mainly because he was just resistant to change. Even when he was scared straight by a visit to the depressed and pathetic David Wallace, that whole sequence looked more sad -- and scarily realistic, given this economy -- than funny. And it was wise of the writers to make even Michael see at that point what not having a job can do to even the seemingly most with-it corporate stooge.
So, on to Pam and Jim... what happened to them? They were the voices of reason in a nutty office. Now they're just another couple having problems signing their unborn child up for the best day care site in town. They're not making fun of the goings on at work, they're not progressing as a couple.
They're settled now, about to have a kid. Without their usual above-the-frayness, there's nothing to latch onto anymore. And there's especially no reason to care that Jim kiboshed his kid's chances simply because he walked in on the center's director going to the bathroom. That feels like a bad plot out of the last two years of 'Frasier,' not something you see on 'The Office.'
I'd usually give a "more fun stuff" list here, but there really there wasn't any, outside of Creed asking if the officemates can solve their re-packing-the-box problem by making everything smaller. Even Andy's fumbling attempts at trying to ask Erin out are getting old.
So, yes, it was a very dissatisfying episode, which is disappointing given the fact that we've gotten nothing but a clip show since early December. Episodes like this are happening more often, and it's making a lot of 'Office' fans wonder if the show's starting to make its fade to the finish.