Friday, May 11, 2007

"Watch out for snakes!": The Office

Man, am I glad the rumored plan to expand The Office to an hourlong show fell through! As much as I like the show, these super-sized episodes of it almost never work. I liked Benihana Christmas all right, and I liked the Jim and Pam stuff in Casino Night, but most of the other super-sized episodes have just felt flabby, full of gags that were a little too wild and meandering plots that didn't go anywhere.

Thursday night's episode, sort of a necessary bridge episode between the rest of the season and what promises to be a finale that will change a number of things from who works where to which couples are paired up, was flabby, full of some good slapstick and sight gags but minus the cutting dialogue and goofiness that the show usually promises. Sure it was fun to see Andy float away in a sumo wrestling get-up, and it was funny to watch Jim, Dwight, Stanley and Andy choose teams, but the whole episode relied a little too much on some too wacky stuff (like Creed devouring a raw fish of all things or Michael asking Pam to warm up 800 hot dogs in 10 minutes).

(By the by, the quote up above was not the episode's funniest moment, but it did make me think of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and that's always a good thing in my book!)

Anyway, I liked that both Jim and Karen applied for the job that Michael was asked to apply for at the corporate level. Since both Michael and Jim are integral to the success of the show, it seems likely that Karen will get the promotion and become the new Jan or something, but it's nice to see Jim take action to improve his life as well. Dwight's sorrow over Michael's impending departure was all right, and Stanley tackling Jim in the sumo outfit was pretty funny too. But the whole thing just sort of meandered along finally ending at a firewalking sequence that wasn't terribly funny (Dwight falling on the hot coals was sort of tiring to watch).

I did like Dwight and Angela's discussion of sabotage (along with Dwight saying that if there was a group hug later, Angela should be near him), but it was one sparkly conversation in an episode that was, all told, sort of boring.

Finally, the Jim and Pam and Karen triangle moved forward an inch or so as Pam told everyone what she really thought after daring herself to run across the coals. I didn't buy that Pam would say all of this with Karen right there, but it was a well enough written speech (loved the little Pam-ish interruptions and digressions as she got uncomfortable but then forced herself to push forward). I don't buy that Pam's new honesty kick would let her overcome her politeness to tell Jim exactly what she thinks of him (or, rather, hint strongly at what she thinks of him), but, hey, at least we're moving forward.

The things I enjoyed the most in the episode were the employees of the office singing songs on the bus on the way to the beach. It felt like the sort of closely-observed moment the show pulls off when it's at its best, largely because it was just people having a good time (the show is always at its best when it feels this breezy). In some ways, I almost want to ask the writers to get their damn plot out of the show and just let me enjoy these characters. But, hey, at least we don't have to put up with an hourlong show that just wants to be a half hour next year.

Predictions for the finale?

1 comment:

Steven said...

How much of the 'super-sizedness' was taken up by the two very long bus sing-a-longs? I'm willing to bet that if you cut those out the episode wasn't much longer than a normal episode.

Also, it is very obvious that Karen will get the promotion. The show would not work if Pam, Jim, or Michael left the Scranton branch. Ultimately Pam and Jim have to get together, though one wonders how the show goes on from there.