the office recapping: pam’s replacement

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.

QUOTES

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.”

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