‘The Office’ – ‘Costume Contest’: Let’s hear it for the rational consumer!

Senior Television Writer
10.28.10 80 Comments


A review of tonight’s “The Office” coming up just as soon as I discuss the extremes of the human physique…

“Costume Contest” was an episode with a lot to like – too much, really. There was so much going on, so many little stories and running gags for so many characters, that I think it would have worked much better as a one-hour episode.

We got off to a terrific start with the “Is there no limit to what he won’t notice?” teaser with Stanley (Kevin-as-Phyllis was my favorite. followed by Pam’s mustache), then set up some promising ideas based on previous characterization: Jim is too-cool-for-school about Halloween, Oscar refuses to get excited about things that don’t make rational sense, Michael is both afraid of Darryl and desperate for his respect and friendship, etc.

But things got so busy, so quickly, that the Michael/Darryl/Gabe storyline never quite clicked (outside of occasional moments like Michael asking “What is taking someone from behind?” or Michael making Kevin cry, which was a great bit for Brian Baumgartner). And the various bits about the supporting cast and their costumes felt like they deserved more time. I have to assume there was an Andy/Meredith scene that got left on the cutting room floor, for instance, and I was surprised they brought back Todd Packer without at any point addressing the professional conflict with Danny.

The storyline that worked the best was the Jim/Pam/Danny situation. It was the right mix of weird and uncomfortable – what good was going to come from those questions? – and Jim’s decision to put on the silly costume, and to bring in CC as Swee’Pea(*), was the perfect way for him to buck up Pam after Danny’s “she seemed a little dorky” comment so obviously deflated her.

(*) Any Popeye fans out there who can explain to me exactly what Swee’Pea’s relationship is supposed to be to Olive and/or Popeye? That always puzzled me. Was Olive a single mom? Is Swee’Pea the illegitimate child Popeye refuses to claim? Just a random baby?

Again, lots of fine little moments – the line about “Walter Bernard Hall” explaining so much about Andy’s time at Cornell, or the reasons for Oscar winning the costume contest – but the whole didn’t really come together.

What did everybody else think?

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