By: Joe Finch
Maura Tierney, best known for her role as Dr. Abby Lockhart on ER, guest starred this week as Robert California’s wife, Susan. Unfortunately, even with her presence on set, the show still flat lined.
As usual, Robert continued his cat and mouse game with Andy, only this time, made the mistake of getting his wife tangled up in his lunacy. After initially ordering Andy not to hire Mrs. California under any circumstances, Robert then jumbled Andy’s mind with mixed signals, which ultimately led Andy to erroneously hiring her. With the bickering between Andy and Robert being so annoyingly overdone, it was sometimes hard to remember that Susan, not Andy, was Robert’s wife. Although there were no laughs provided from this trio, the groundwork for a potential tryst between Andy and the boss’s wife was laid (pun intended).
While the work triangle played out in the office, Dwight continued his entrepreneurial ways by opening “Dwight Schrute’s Gym for Muscles.” After renovating the gym (according to Darryl, the original setup looked like something out of Saw 5), Darryl agreed to join. With Dwight acting as his personal trainer, we learned that Darryl’s sudden fitness motivation was Val (from the warehouse, not Kilmer). Interestingly enough, this was the same woman that Gabe fell for in previous episodes.
The saving grace for laughs, and perhaps the funniest moment of the season, was Jim’s attempted escape from Dunder Mifflin headquarters. Realizing that he was about to be called into the conference room to settle Andy and Robert’s dispute, Jim ran out of the building, and right for his car. However, Robert’s call down to security foiled his getaway plan, as the gates closed as he tried to pull away. Totally out of character, Jim left his car unattended (and unlocked), and made his way up the fire escape, knowing that he was being chased down. Upon reaching the roof, he was greeted by Creed, who was casually operating a mechanical toy helicopter.
If it weren’t for that last scene, this could have potentially been the dullest episode of the entire eight seasons. They did take strides with the plot, if in fact something is brewing in the extramarital affair department. Also, we are in store for a Darryl/Gabe clash, which should make for great comedy. However, the writers used to find ways to setup storylines while still intertwining humor. These days, they sacrifice one for the other. If you want character progression, you can’t have slapstick, and vice versa.
Maybe this was the real reason Jim was trying so hard to escape.
Darryl – “I used to say I wanted to live long enough to see a black president. I didn’t realize how easy that would be. So now, I want to live to see a really, really gay president. Or a super model president. I wanna see all the different kinds of presidents.”
Dwight – “It’s the second easiest job in the world (sales). Being a mom.”
Darryl – “Uh, no, this is not a gym. This is like a scene out of Saw 5.”
Andy – “Let me beat around the bush for a second.”
Jim – “No, I don’t think we should be trying to make this place unpleasant. I think we should let this place crush her spirit by itself. It knows what it’s doing.”
Robert – “I should head out. Get to the ATM before the homeless man sets up camp for the night.”
Darryl – “It’s Lejon Brames.”
Dwight – “Well, how do you think the Fonz got so cool? He stretched his pelvic bowl.”
By: Joe Finch
Barring some fantastic quips and a couple of hilarious scenes, this week’s episode of The Office was sluggish enough to make a Gettysburg tour seem more exciting.
In yet another episode heavily dominated by Andy and his insecurities, he continues to try and convince people of his leadership by taking some of the “troops” on a field trip to Gettysburg. After delivering a long winded speech comparing war to paper sales, we are finally treated to some comic relief when Gabe is mistaken for Abraham Lincoln (which isn’t the first time). Gabe embraces his new role as the former President, and delivers a hysterical performance, tying his own suffering into the monologue.
While half the staff holds down the fort back in Scranton, Robert stops in and gives them an impromptu challenge to come up with new ideas, and adds that they should feel free to “get weird with it.” Well, that they do. Ryan comes up with an idea to invest in origami, the next big Japanese craze to hit America since sushi. Stanley underwhelms Robert with his idea of women’s paper, even after attempting to play the race card with it. The only idea that invigorates Robert comes from a very unlikely source—Kevin. Kevin’s analysis of cookie placement in the vending machine spurs Robert to shift the focus of their product line, and credits Kevin with the concept. However, Robert also learns about Kevin’s Big Mac idea (take one ingredient a day out of a Big Mac and save it, so that by week’s end you have a free Big Mac), and realizes his cookie pitch was not a metaphor, it was literally a cookie concern.
Back over at Gettysburg, Dwight adamantly insists that Schrute Farms was a bloodier battlefield, only to find out from a historian that Schrute Farms was a refuge site for dandies and dreamers. Meanwhile, Andy grows frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm shown by his underlings, and vents his frustrations to Jim and Darryl.
The show’s saving grace was incorporating the entire cast into the mix. Although it was mostly a toxic combination of Andy and Robert again, it had enough cameo shots to ease the pain. However, the pity party for Andy needs to stop. If the writers want us to move on from the Michael Scott era, then stop reminding us week after week that Andy is the new manager. Just let him be the boss and go about running the company.
Also, it is still so unclear what the developing storylines of the season are, if there are any at all. After last week’s episode, there was potential for a growing plot involving Jim’s health, which wasn’t addressed at all in this episode. Some sitcoms can get away with never really developing a lingering story, but The Office doesn’t have this luxury, considering they have had developing sagas for eight seasons.
The show has really been picking up lately in the comedic department, but came to a screeching halt with this episode. Then again, this should surprise no one, considering the writers chose “Gettysburg” as the optimal location to draw laughs.
Andy – “I can’t force you to go. You’re not my slaves. Thanks to Gettysburg.”
Ryan – “Robert, you got your sheep. You got your black sheep. And I’m not even a sheep. I’m on the freaking moon.”
Jim – “Of course we’re not tourists. We’re just people that aren’t from here that are taking a tour.”
Dwight – “Mad props to Gettysburg.”
Ryan – “Origami—it’s the sushi of paper.”
Stanley – “Paper for women. Pink, scented, and silky soft. Now, you can watch the game, and she can write a letter to her sister.”
Ryan – “Okay, we are now on a planet where Kevin is the most creative person around, and I am just some good looking guy.
Gabe – (performing as Abe Lincoln) “Perhaps a trip to the theater will enlighten my spirits.”
Phyllis – “All I had for breakfast was oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, orange juice and toast—two poached eggs and half a sandwich on the bus.”
Jim – “I’m wearing a very pink hat. I’ve been getting weird looks all day because I’m pretty sure ‘DM Does GB’ means something sexual.”
By: Joe Finch
Andy’s mom is dead. Robert plays the harmonica. Dwight intentionally grabs Jim’s penis. Yep, The Office is getting good again.
For the second consecutive week, the writers got it right. They placed less emphasis on Robert and Andy, and shifted their focus more heavily on Jim, Pam, and Dwight. They’ve also added some potentially developing storylines, which were non-existent up until this point.
Erin sets the tone early with a hysterical yet morbid opening scene, as she bursts into Andy’s office and informs him that his mother is dead due to a horrific bus accident (Andy initially requested that Erin barge into his meeting to tell him that he has an important call on the line).
Andy, Darryl and Kevin are having a jam session in the warehouse together, until it is broken up by Robert’s surprise visit. When Robert reveals that he is a harmonica player, the band (Kevin and the Zits, as Kevin refers to them) relishes the thought of rocking out with their boss. That is, until Robert invites his former band to play with them, and shuts out The Zits. This part of the show fell flat on laughs, but Robert playing an instrument meant he wasn’t speaking, which is music to everyone’s ears.
Meanwhile, up in the office, Pam is training her maternity leave apprentice, who happens to be a hot younger woman. As Pam wrestles with her pregnancy insecurities, she also battles Jim in a test of wits, to try and get him to admit he thinks the new girl is attractive. When she finally turns to Dwight for help, the ridiculousness ensues. After a few failed attempts to catch Jim lying, Dwight resorts to intentionally falling (and feeling) on Jim’s crotch area while he sits with the replacement, in hopes of discovering that Jim has an erection. When flaccid results show up, the only logical thing left to do (according to Dwight and Pam, surprisingly) is to have Jim take a makeshift lie detector test using a blood pressure machine. Although they find no evidence to suggest that Jim is lying, Jim does discover that he has dangerously high blood pressure, which could very well be a plot that thickens as the show moves along.
So far, there really hasn’t been a gripping story to follow week after week. Sure, Andy’s progression as manager and his rocky relationship with Erin is something to monitor, but no character really has a compelling saga. Although this is a comedy, it is refreshing to see a new topic being addressed, as opposed to another relationship issue. There have been a few episodes dedicated to health (Kevin’s skin cancer, Meredith’s rabies, etc), but nothing of this magnitude, so very curious to see how this plays out.
It is worth noting that the last two episodes have really picked up the pace of this sluggish season, and it is no coincidence that both shows were primarily centered on Jim and Dwight. These two are this decade’s Chandler and Joey. Whenever they are on screen together, their banter is sure to please. They have been goofing on each other from the start, and it truly never gets old. They both find new ways to always torture each other, all while having this weird camaraderie.
It appears that the producers are going back to their roots in a lot of ways, yet breaking new ground by delving into difficult topics such as health. Also, it appears that there will be a new fresh face to the cast, with Pam’s fill-in, Cathy. Pam may need to be replaced for a while, but the producers may have righted the ship and secured their jobs after all.
Erin – “Your mother is dead. She’s dead. She was hit by a bus.”
Gabe – “That’s the best way to land a hot girlfriend. You just get her hooked on blow.”
Toby – “You know what would be the hottest thing ever? A pregnant Helen Mirren.”
Dwight – “I don’t see what’s so ugly about him. He has the broad face of a brewer.”
Creed – “How’d I get this long triangle?”
Dwight – “I’m sorry. I fell down, Mr. Balance.”
Dwight – “Does your husband have very soft erections. Cause if not, I just grabbed a very soft penis for nothing.”
Dwight – “Aww, stop shoving me. Stop grabbing my penis. Grow up.”