The Office: Goodbye, Tobey
May 15, 2008

NBC, Thursdays at 9:00PM

Genre: Sitcom

Conceit: Its Funny Because Its Oh So True.

Meet the old boss, not at all like the new boss.  With Tobey moving to Costa Rica, Dunder Mifflin Infinity sends a new HR rep to DMIS.  Holly seems like she’s going to be an interesting addition to the crew.  And all it took for Michael to fall head over heels in love with her was her patronizing ribbing of Tobey.  He wanted to make her a mix.  Did anyone else laugh out loud when he told her he wanted to make a mix?  But, I can’t deny that seeing Michael try to impress her was fun.  And her reciprocating was even nicer.  Yoga.  Yoda.  Turns out she’s the best thing to happen to the company since World War II.  Excellent.  But Michael Scott just can’t have everything he wants, can he?  Is there any insult greater than finding out your ex went to a sperm bank WHILE you were together because she wanted to get pregnant but just not by you?  Wow.  And didn’t Michael’s hurt just seem so real?  Michael does “the right thing”, which is bizarre because it isn’t his kid, but is expected, because its Michael Scott.

I have to admit, the bit with Dwight telling Holly that Kevin was slow was pretty hilarious.  How it kept playing out was even more funny.  Kevin is seriously one of the best of the B-cast.  What did made me sad was when Holly decided to sit in on Tobey’s exit interview.  I’m pretty sure everyone wanted to see the “bruisin'” that Tobey was surely “cruisin’ for”.  

Jim Halpert.  Man, when you get a head of steam going, you just keep going with it.  He even left Ryan a voicemail saying that he won’t back down.  Unfortunately, Ryan had bigger problems as his failed website inevitably lead to fraud.  And arrest.  From temp, to executive, to jail.  The classic story.  Speaking of classic stories: Jam.  Pam’s going to school for the summer and Jim decides its time to propose.  And Pam even sees it coming.  The smiles on their faces right before he was going to ask.  Then Andy grabbed the mic.  He asked Angela to marry her, and she said “ok”.  Dwight’s admission that it was his own fault…killer.  This stopped Jim dead in his tracks.  And made Pam think that he was never going to ask.  Dang it!

And then there was the ending.  Could’ve never called that.

This show had a home run fourth season.  And I’m thoroughly excited to see the fifth season.  Exactly what a season finale should be.

Final Grade: A

The Office: Job Fair
May 8, 2008

NBC, Thursdays at 9:00PM

Genre: Sitcom

Conceit: Its Funny Because its Oh So True.

Ah, Michael Scott.  Man, I don’t know about you sometimes.  Tonight’s episode found Michael, Pam, Oscar, and Daryl heading to Pam’s old high school for a job fair.  Apparently Dunder Mifflin Infinity Scranton (hereby known as DMIS) needs a summer intern.  And Michael was looking for the best.  Not someone who’s meant to be a cashier or whatever other things Michael listed.  Besides Oscar’s great “Why wouldn’t you say that to her face” line while Michael was telling a kid what he really thought of Pam, this aspect of the episode was slightly a letdown.  Anytime Michael is out of the office, he really steps his embarrassment game up a notch.  “The Convention” was a perfect example of this.  However, this episode was just kind of gag after gag, none of which really landed.  Even Michael’s microphone moment, though it made me squirm, not in the funny way that I’m sure it was intended.

What saved this episode was the golf course.  In the wake of Ryan’s warning last week, Jim took the greens to stir up  new business.  And he brought Kevin and Andy with him.  This was just good stuff.  The Office rarely does physical gags.  But when they do use them, they use them well.  Andy’s golf cart crash actually made me laugh out loud.

But this was truly and Jam episode.  The only reason Jim was on this golf course was because he needs to succeed before he can actually give Pam that ring he has.  After his first overture with their golf partner was shot down, Jim had pretty much accepted it for what it was.  But then Pam called.  And Jim redoubled his efforts.  And weren’t you proud of him when he pulled through.  Last week I said that you can’t deny that Jim’s a slacker.  But you also can’t deny that you want to see him win.

We also saw Pam back in her old art room, looking disappointed when her old work was gone.  But more important was what happened right before the credits.  Pam was going to apply for a graphic design job before she found out she was very underqualified.  The only places she could get qualified are Philadelphia and New York.  And there, ladies and gentlemen, we have the conflict for the season finale and to fight over for the summer.  Pam wants to move forward with her life.  But if that means moving, can Jim afford to do it.  Or are we going to reverse season 3, where Pam is away while Jim is in the office alone?

Final Grade: A-

The Office: Did I Stutter
May 4, 2008

NBC, Thursdays at 9:00PM

Genre: Sitcom

Conceit: Its Funny Because Its Oh So True.

This episode could’ve been called “The One With All The Awkward Moments”.  The main awkward moment happened while Michael was trying to whip up excitement in the office about whipping up excitement in the office.  When Jim suggested an urban appeal, of course Michael turned to Stanley.  What was pretty standard fare became particularly awkward when Stanley clearly made his feelings of wanting to be left alone known.  Michael fled and tried to come up with a way to keep the peace.  In a brief season highlight, he consulted Daryl about what his “street life” taught him.  “Fluffy Fingers”.  Hilarious.  After a failed “fake firing”, Stanley tore into Michael with an uncharacteristic viciousness, and Michael responded by demanding everyone leave.  I was with Kevin when I thought Michael was really about to let go on Stanley.  But this is The Office, and he broke down in a whimper.  Eventually though, Michael did show a flash of the business man he is, telling Stanley he doesn’t need to respect him, but he has to treat him with respect in the office.

The other awkward moment stemmed from last week.  Ryan subtly mentioned that he knew Jim had spoken to Ryan’s boss about what doesn’t work with Dunder Mifflin Infinity’s website.  This week, Ryan and Tobey told Jim that his work has been substandard and he was warned.  Jim initially believed that this was Ryan’s payback (it probably is), but Ryan said he knows how much time Jim wastes around the office.  Tobey, seizing on this opportunity to take Pam’s love interest down a peg, agreed.  Here’s the thing: Does anyone think Ryan’s really wrong?  His motivation aside, did he say anything that isn’t true?  Jim’s a lovable underachiever, but that still makes him an underachiever.  Do we really expect him to want to work at that office forever (or for Pam to always be the secretary at the office?)?  This piece of story is surely going to play into that ring Jim’s had in his pocket.

Final Grade: A-

The Office: Night Out
April 25, 2008

NBC, Thursdays at 9:00PM

Genre: Sitcom

Conceit: Its Funny Because Its Oh So True.

This episode could’ve been called The Bizarro Office.  Up was Down; Left was Right; Dwight was Jim.

Because the Dunder Mifflin Infinity website was glitchy (and apparently allowed sexual predators to operate), the Scranton staff would have to come in on a Saturday to enter phone orders into the website.  Jim came up with the wise plan to stay an extra four hours on Friday night and bang it out, so they don’t have to come in Saturday.  Everyone loves him.  Jim forgets to tell the building security, who locks the parking lot closed with everyone in there.  Pam locks the office door behind her, locking everyone out of the officer.  Everyone hates Jim and Pam.  Pam also throws a football in Meredith’s face.  Everyone hates Pam (but I laughed out loud).

Meanwhile, a desperately lonely Michael heads to NYC with Dwight in tow to party it up with Ryan.  And Ryan was thrilled to see them.  And terribly nice.  Like I said, up was down.  We’d find out soon enough that Ryan has been, ahem, powdering his nose way too much.  His life isn’t as awesome as he makes it out to be.  And yet Dwight was actually fighting off a gorgeous blonde.  Left was right.

The only constant this night was Michael Scott.  This guy.  He couldn’t find a thing to eat in a grocery store.  Yet his naiveté was pretty strong tonight.  He can’t even tell when two different girls are not interested.  And when Ryan is crying out for help.  Ahh well.  Scott is as Scott does.

Final Grade: A 

The Office: The Chairmodel
April 18, 2008

NBC, Thursdays at 9:00PM

Genre: Sitcom

Conceit: Its Funny Because Its Oh So True.

Man the opening teaser itself was just hilarious on its own.  Especially Kevin sitting on the curb, broken down (though I’m sure the breakup with Stacey didn’t help; nor did Michael’s “You didn’t deserve her” comforting).  These background players don’t get enough credit.

This episode was about Michael moving on, after a less than stellar dinner party last week ended her relationship with Jan.  His plan?  Have everyone in the office right down the name of an available friend for him to try out.  (Kevin gets the award for the best gag: Wendy, a big, juicy Redhead)  Dwight, in classic Dwight mode, made it his life’s mission to find the office supply merchandise chairmodel that sent Michael into this need for love.  Only, she died and broke Michael’s heart.  So in pity, Pam suggests setting up Michael with her landlady, Margaret.  Oh Pamalamadingdong, why would you ever Michael Scott anyone?  It went how you expected: a combination of warm with absolute wrong, ending with Michael’s righteous indignation.  And further ending with Michael’s new plan: wait until next year’s catalogue comes out and find a new chairmodel.  Ahh, Michael.  At least it ended with classic Michael and Dwight.

Which leads to Pam and Jim upping the ante on their relationship.  Who would’ve thunk it?  Michael Scott ends up being the thing the reinforces our fate in Jam…or Pim.  Pam’s the classy girl we want her to be.  She won’t move in with someone who hasn’t proposed.  And Jim…man, that guy makes us look bad, doesn’t he?  By the way, his gag at the end…PRICELESS!

Meanwhile, construction at Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s neighbor, W.B. Jones, lead the employees to park in the satellite lot, which is apparently a fate worse than death.  So Kevin decides its time to bring together The Five Families; the organizations that share the office building.  This was great, if only to see each company’s commercial.  Come to think about it, this was truly a Kevin episode, which turns out to be a great thing.  Especially when Kevin wins one.

Oh, and “Bernard…Andy is me” did a dance at the end.  Which made up for not doing much the entire episode.

Final Grade: A