Saturday, September 27, 2008

you have to agree with me!

thursday's episode of the office was a return to form. written by the emmy nominated gene stupnitsky and lee eisenberg, it was a first in the show's history: we saw the 8 weeks of summer as dunder mifflin scranton participated in a company wide weight loss competition. it picked up pretty much where we left off in may.

casey texted me "i'm watching it now. eastern time bitch!" at 6.10. at 6.18 "good, not great". i decided to start ignoring him. the episode did seem to get off to a slow start or seemed a bit off, despite still being funny, but i think i just had to get used to the different format and thus the inherently different pacing. i have to say that they handled the different format very gracefully, it retained a classic office feel, harking back to season 2. i was a fan of season 4 but admittedly it had a different feeling. they took more risks and pushed plots further really developing the characters. this episode, while incorporating these elements, felt like classic office.

following a last meal of various food fountains, which dwight and his handy aerosol can helpfully destroyed the leftovers of, the office heads down to the warehouse to weigh in. dwight, the eternal strategist, is trying some last minute tactics "one more bite of eclair each. hold it in your mouth if you can't swallow." even we fill in the "that's what she said" so it's no wonder jim is surprised by michael's restraint in front of holly. "really, nothing?" the staff weighs in at 2,336 lbs and darryl delivers another gem "y'all need to learn some portion control". i am not used to the pace yet but quips keep coming, a steady undertone of subtle but sharp humor. michael realizes "pamcake" is on the scale skewing the results so she steps off, 2,210. after a loooong pause kevin proclaims "pam, you weigh 226 lbs?" i love how long it takes kevin to get the wrong answer. holly, still under the misconception that kevin is mentally challenged (way to make your new co-worker feel not welcome or liked, dwight), tries to be encouraging "almost, kevin". i love pam's awkwardness and self-consciousness in this moment. "not almost, though, holly. i mean, not - not close to 200..." holly, oblivious to pam's protestations, tries to further reassure kev "math is hard". i love her firm and friendly kindergarten teacher voice. pam is sweating under the imagined lights of scrutiny "just, we'll just keep going". and so the contest begins.

pam says her goodbyes which range from the unemotional with dwight "if i don't see you again, goodbye. wait, actually, i'll see you when you give me the fax confirmation so, never mind.", to the misguided poetry and thwarted kisses of michael "the last word is 'seagulls'", and heads off for the 2-1-2. we are thrown a bone with jim's TH about he and pam discussing the proposal; that they talked about it and are waiting until they're together to avoid a long engagement, and that he is comfortable enough with the situation to joke "something in her past, i guess. i'm not really sure of the whole story, but something about a guy who used to work here...". its gonna be okay you guys.

meanwhile other engagements are full speed ahead. and i don't just mean the marrying kind. andy is gun-ho with the wedding planning and angela, who's tolerance of andy rivals jan's of michael, is just stonewalling andy, in part to delay the inevitable i think and in part because she just cannot dignify his ramblings with a response.
"how do you feel about maine?" angela looks at her phone as she dials. unfazed, he bounds off enthusiastically "i'm on it". as dwight’s pager (always funny) goes off, we discover that andy is also oblivious to angela's clandestine encounters. we all remember the pregnant (pun terrible, and forced, and intended) silence that followed phyllis' discovery at the end of last season's finale? i don't really know who to root for, it reminds me of pam's take on the andy/angela pairing last season "i couldn't do that to dwight. or angela. or andy". that pretty much sums it up for me. i do love dwight's chin bump after they emerge and angela can barely make it out of frame. i love overconfident dwight.

meanwhile the rest of the office is burning calories in their own ways; kelly is extreme dieting with the cleanse, stanley is taking the stairs to attain his own personal weight loss goals and dwight is providing healthy alternatives in the vending machine. dwight hammering a nectarine into one of the vending machine slots defines priceless. post yoga in the conference room, michael is cleaning himself with a paper towel at the sink "ah, they moved the shower" and tries to engage jim on his way to the bathroom in a lively discussion about the quality of holly's butt. jim attempts to derail this clearly inappropriate conversation encouraging michael to share what he has learned about holly while taking things slow (per jim's advice from last season). it is sweet; michael has clearly been talking and listening to holly but, much like that h.r. badonkadonk, the horny 15-yr-old in michael just won't quit. jim attempts to extract himself as the conversation nosedives again "i thought you had to pee?"

being inappropriate may not damage michael's chances all that much, as holly tells oscar that she is a lesbian in response to his description of the handsome single teacher of his bikram class. oscar is excited to share that he is gay and holly back peddles explaining she was just making a stupid joke. "what's the joke?". as she continues to shove her foot into her mouth it really could be michael having this interaction. oh my, for reals they are a perfect match. jim has come to the same conclusion at the second weigh in, where scranton is off to a great start having lost 31 lbs, "i can't believe i'm saying this, but michael is actually killing it with holly. and i think i know why. it's because holly is KIND of a major dork." still not sure, well how about they do a little rap. okay, you on board with the dork theory now? great. i cannot get over how well written the character of holly is, that they have created a woman who is perfect for michael and yet cute and endearing, but still misunderstood.
as jim muses over michael's office love, his lady small fish is in the big apple realizing that she has shown up in the wrong class. even if that was the right class, the pretentious zap chancery "joke" would have caused me to walk out. no lady, you are not boring me, just causing me to vomit in my mouth, you understand. it is cute to see ol' pammy sheepishly take her seat again, you can take the girl out of reception but...

after seeing how beautiful jan is, and the seeming hold she has over michael, holly decides to take up oscar on his matchmaking offer. it is so clever and funny to see how the writers have parlayed competitive, cutthroat, corporate jan into a preggers, suburban candle-maker. it's like she is way to aggressive for her chosen field. candle-making, dude. chillax. fresh off her first sighting of hurricane jan, holly is ready to have another bubble burst. after angela attacks kevin for his ineptitude, believing "a g.d. monkey could do it" (why is the abbreviation of mild curse words so funny? can someone please explain it to me?), holly makes a confused and painfully sincere attempt to come to kevin's defense, revealing her misperception of his less-is-more attitude towards thinking. "wait, back up. do you think that i am retarded?" i love that in this inflamed moment of outrage at angela's perceived insensitivity, holly still takes a moment to build up kevin "but he's doing a super job here". "oh, holly, that is very offensive" - true but luckily you are playing to a crowd that has seen far worse before, if that's any comfort. and the awkwardness of michael is definitely more endearing on a woman, especially one as foxy as amy ryan.

angela’s smirking chastising of holly seems to have emboldened her sense of moral self-righteousness because, after andy presents the following deposits he’s made, and will subsequently lose for the following reasons:

hot-air balloons over napa valley ...... dangerous
world-famous walt disney's epcot center ...... tacky
scuba-diving wedding in the bahamas ...... sharks
wilkes-barre marriott ballroom c ...... haunted

and she seeks comfort in the arms of her doughy love machine, angela is unflinching in her response “ i have a nice comforter and several cozy pillows. i usually read a chapter of a book, and it’s lights out by 8.30. that’s how i sleep at night.”

dwight continues to be unmoved by pam’s departure and registers annoyance as jim attempts a laptop video chat with “the girl”. oblivious in the way only an overly excitable man-child can be, michael high-jacks the laptop, solicits the group hello i am sure pam had been eagerly awaiting since she “called” (is this the appropriate term here? does this count as “calling”?) and heads over to pam’s old haunt. i love how pam handles michael even through cyberspace “can you put me down? i’m getting a little nauseous.” i love even more how michael appears to be unaware that ronnie can hear him bitch to pam about how she has “the nerve” to just plonk down and answer phones. “oh, calm down, weirdo. it's just a joke. she's such a weirdo!!” she is kind of though.

the fallout from phyllis’ revealing (yes again, pun, guilty) discovery last season is that she now heads up the party planning committee. holly wants a fruit-plate but phyllis thinks it’s whorish. i wish. i love you phyllis but this was a party planning committee meeting and nobody’s moral character was called into question. i miss those days already. michael agrees with holly, and scoffs at the notion that collectively losing one pound deserves the reward of cake. and it doesn’t, michael is actually right and it is revealed that he actually gets what this competition is all about. he calls a meeting to talk about the need to take the competition seriously because it is about being healthy and losing weight and it’s the only way for everyone in the office to live forever. well, one other way. “cryogenics, beer me five.” so everyone agrees to lose 5 pounds “angela, can i put you down for 10” and along with jim’s 65 the office is back on track. and just when things were getting painful between angela and andy (cringe-ogenics, beer me five) angela is moved enough by andy’s confession that he would marry her anywhere to stand up dwight. bonus: we get to see dwight sans shirt.

poor rice-a-ronnie, jim was at least open to her eventually being a part of his life at dunder mifflin “i don't really know ronnie. but i have a feeling i will get to know her very well over the next few years, and eventually declare my love for her.” but come on “does anyone wanna dance?” clearly not, ronnie. michael was right about you. you’re on your own. as for jim, he is busy sexiling the documentary crew from pam’s dorm room. meow.

the dancing was only the tip of the iceberg, phyllis is throwing a renegade party in the warehouse complete with stanley’s favorite cake (in which he is not interested). holly and michael and dwight are adorable as the kids left out. it is clearly more wounding that they weren’t invited and michael, who is an ideas machine this episode, suggests they have a rival mini-golf party. holly can’t go, she has a date, so with his rival party ruined michael goes to break things up. this doesn’t go WAY too far so dwight decides to fix that by kicking stanley’s cake all over everyone. “happy birthday, stanley”. oh, you showed him.

this review is in syndication. too much happened, i cannot make this one post. your eyes will fall out of your head. which would be terrible and really really gross. so this recap/review has been divided up into the proverbial "2 half hours". but don't worry, they are airing back to back.

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