Hola Amigos, I know it's been long as a camel's dong since I last rapped at ya, but I've been busier than a hooker at a Shriners convention. Besides, our television friends at The Office have been on vacation and I decided to celebrate my Summer break by writing for the entertainment section of a popular satirical newspaper and website. That seems to be working out pretty well so far. I only wish it afforded me more opportunities to watch/write about bad movies. What did you guys do?
The Officekateers were up to plenty of mischief this Summer as well. A little movie called The Rocker catapulted Rainn Wilson to cinematic super-stardom while John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer coasted on the blockbuster success of Leatherheads and The Promotion respectively. It's no exaggeration to say that everyone on The Office is now officially the biggest movie star in the world. How is that even possible? It isn't. Yet it's true all the same. I understand Craig Robinson went to some sort of yoga retreat this Summer or something. The police blotter didn't go into much detail.
When we last caught up with the gang at Dunder-Mifflin, Angela proved it was possible to bitchily accept a wedding proposal, in this case from amiable goober Andy. Jim put off proposing to Pam and Ryan fell from grace and was escorted out of Dunder-Mifflin's corporate headquarters by the holice. Michael Scott learned that his succubus of an ex was pregnant with somebody else's baby and embarked on a tentative flirtation with Holly, a pretty new HR representative played by Oscar-nominee Amy Ryan.
Criminy, for a second there I thought I was writing a week's worth of summaries for a daytime soap. I was a little weary when I read the plot description for tonight's episode, which found the gang going on a collective crash diet as part of a seemingly illegal HR stunt to improve wellness/unhealthy dieting and score bonus vacation days. It struck me as an awfully gimmicky, mildly desperate premise, but it played out beautifully.
In tonight's episode we learned exactly why Amy Ryan's seemingly sane new co-worker was attracted to Michael: she's a huge fucking dork herself, awkward and stumbling and unlucky in love. In the show's most annoyingly sitcommy development, Holly stumbles upon Michael giving ex Jan a foot rub in his office and assumed he was no longer interested in her, causing her to date Oscar's yoga instructor.
As today's episode opened, Pam was in New York taking classes, Ryan was back at work as a temp (ah, the cycle of life) after his very public shaming and Jim and Pam's long-distance relationship was experiencing rare turbulence. I actually kind of dug the pair's separation. I am on record as a Jim and Pam doubter. They just seemed too goddamned happy and in love, and I hate the idea of anybody being too happy, especially myself. Invisible cartoon hearts seemed to emanate from their pores every time they gazed adoringly into each other's eyes and their long-gestating romance threatened to grow fatally sappy.
That said, I thought separating them by a few hundred or thousand or million miles (me no good at geography) was a winning tactic. It broke up the ecstatic entity of JimandPam and forced them to assert their own winning personalities more. In other news, Angela expressed her profound ambivalence towards Andy by once again sneaking out for clandestine trysts with Dwight, who actually seemed borderline virile. Crazy!
The mass dieting predictably if entertainingly brought out the worst in people, creating a faintly Lord of The Flies vibe. Kelly's narcissism, insecurity and vanity led her to dive headfirst into a crazy fad diet/tapeworm-ingestion combination (never trust anything Creed proposes) that left her insane, edgy and looking damned good. Ryan, who initially managed to be arrogant even in his attempts at humility, was suddenly infatuated with Kelly. It remains to be seen whether Ryan's schadenfreuderiffic fall will humanize his character or make him even more of a dick.
Dwight tried to torture and confuse Phyllis into losing weight. True to form, Michael found new, maddening ways to fuck up his chances with Holly, Stanley reconnected with his younger, slimmer, more black powertastic younger self and Holly learned that Kevin wasn't mentally challenged after all.
It was an episode full of big laughs and neat little character moments, as well as a number of gags rooted in camera placement. Ah, but I'm leaving out the big moment, that glorious milestone where years and years of flirtation, meaningful glances and missed chances finally paid off in a surprisingly satisfying, genuinely surprising beauty of a scene where Jim proposed to Pam outside a truck stop in the pouring rain. I was shocked and delighted. The grunginess of the surroundings beautifully undercut the inherent sentimentality of the scene. I, a longtime Jim and Pam doubter, was instantly transformed into a Jim and Pam believer. They're so cute together! They're gonna have, like the cutest babies ever!
Andy continues to develop into a fascinatingly tragicomic character. Tonight, Andy reminded me a lot of Michael Scott in his strangely schoolgirlish ways, especially his contention that every boy grows up dreaming of his fairytale wedding. In true Office form, you're torn between laughing at him and feeling his pain, as Angela did next to nothing to hide her raging contempt for a guy clearly besotted with her. At least he's got that Cornell degree to fall back on. I also loved the idea that after enduring Angela's abuse and hatred with delusional good cheer, Andy found her insistence that his college a ca pella group not perform at the wedding to be a deal-breaker. Even a dope like Andy's gotta have his breaking point.
Will Dwight and Angela get back together? Will Michael and Holly stop fucking things up for themselves and each other and consummate their sweaty, clammy geek love? Tonight's episode kept the subplots buzzing. Unlike most hourlong episodes, it didn't feel padded and the capper with Toby in a hospital bed in Costa Rica was funny-sad but mostly pathetic. It's good to have the gang back. And it's good to have you guys back as well. How was it for you? Lastly, OMG, Jim and Pam got engaged! And it was adorable!
Grade: A- Stray Observations –The scene where Michael buys Holly's Counting Crows tickets just so he could tear them up as a nonsensical romantic gesture struck me as a little much. Clearly, the duo are tone-deaf socially but this seemed to be pushing it. –I didn't write down any especially choice dialogue. What were your favorite one-liners? –I found it deliciously ironic that Michael and Holly's intentionally awful honky rap was immediately followed by a prize-winning commercial for detergent with an equally awful rap that presumably was supposed to be funny. It was no certainly "Lazy Scranton" –I love Ryan's enemies list. It's positively Nixonian –Kelly kinda looked like a crackhead tonight. A sexy, sexy crackhead. Every woman in the world should go on a life-threatening crash diet –I officially recant that last stray observation. It was written by my goateed evil twin. That guy's a total douche. I think he has a boy-crush on Ryan –Entourage in Spanish! Genius! I love Entourage so much more as an Office running gag than as, you know, an increasingly shitty show. Incidentally, can you believe Piven beat Wilson again for Best Supporting Actor? That is some straight up bullshit. –Damn, we'll have to wait over a month for our 30 Rock fix