Has "The Office" jumped the Schrute?
It's a question I recently posed in our Weekend entertainment section, and admittedly, was a transparent attempt to get someone to defend a show that has taken a lot of heat on this blog since its post-strike return. Adam conceded that he was more fired up than Rev. Jeremiah Wright at a conspiracy convention when he wrote a caps-laden post implying that last week's "Night Out" was so bad it could potentially be responsible for global war and infanticide. Hey, the dude is passionate about his TV. You don't even want to know how violent he became when I told him ABC cancelled "Cavemen" ...
Anyway, an astute commenter named Daniel brought up an excellent point today (and really impressed me by using the word 'apogee,' thereby confirming that Channel Surfing indeed has the smartest readership of all the Press-Gazette's blogs.) Maybe we're being too hard on "The Office." I mean, we're still watching, right? It's still pretty funny, right? We don't want to turn into one of those parents who continually breaks down his or her child's self-esteem by chiding them for getting an A-minus on a test because it wasn't good enough by "our" lofty standards. Look at how that type of behavior affected Anthony Michael Hall in "The Breakfast Club." It was just a ceramic elephant lamp! LET IT GO, BRIAN! LET IT GO!
OK, what I'm really trying to say is that last night's "Office" was hilarious. I loved every minute of it and won't write a single negative word for the rest of this post. I know some viewers have a love-hate relationship with Dwight, but c'mon, Rainn Wilson was in peak form last night -- the apogee of hilarity, if you will. His manipulation of Andy in the car sale. DO IT! The emergency chart and pathetic power grab from Michael. DO IT! The "awesome" and "highly comical" Mad-Libs adjectives he used to enthusiastically describe his "clever" and "devious" one-upsmanship of Angela love thief/ex-Xterra owner Mr. Bernard.
Let's see, what else was there? Glasses Pam was a nice, subtle touch. Darryl's "fluffy fingers" and "Newsies" references came out of left field. Creed's requisite creepy comment -- unfortunately aimed at Pam's "Beesleys" -- killed. And even when "Did I Stutter?' -- see why I referenced "The Breakfast Club" earlier? C'mon people, stay with these pop-culture references -- took a slightly serious turn, the tag-team of Scarface Ryan and Not-Destined-For-Costa-Rica-Just-Yet Toby didn't come off as heavy handed in their attempt at petty revenge on Jim -- he of Chronic Time Waste Disease.
And gosh darnitt, I even found some long-lost sympathy for Michael in the end -- especially after he butchered joke after classic joke in the kind of slow-developing gag the show usually saves for its extras. Simple. Effective. Funny.
Bottom line: if Michael getting the hard truth about his incompetence is the kind of "dark humor" this show strives for, well, then I'm all aboard. That's how you turn pain and displeasure into comedy gold.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org
Labels: favorites, The Office