‘The Office’ – ‘Cover-Up’: Schrute, P.I.

Senior Television Writer
05.07.10 31 Comments


A review of last night’s “The Office” coming up just as soon as I don’t trust egg whites…

Like a lot of recent “Office” episodes, “Cover-Up” started off with a strong pre-credits sequence (here with Jim and Pam learning Morse code to get back at Dwight for his jokes about pregnancy weight), then meandered through the rest of a half-hour that had some promising story ideas that were never quite there.

We’ve established by now that most of the staff will indulge Michael using company time on his quest for love, for instance, but how do you put Gabe in the conference room with everyone and not have him comment on same way about what’s going on? It was implied last week that he’s largely powerless in this job, and perhaps in recognition of that he’s given up on being Jo Bennett’s eyes and ears. But if we’re again in a situation where the Scranton branch is owned by a company that disapproves of Michael’s time-wasting and yet does nothing about it, why did we even bother to bring in Sabre?

And the idea of Pam as Michael’s relationship guru runs into trouble when you think about what he did to her mom, which came up here during the mayonnaise and black olives scene, then was shrugged off because it got in the way of the story. Also, the underlying theme of the story – that Michael alway sabotages his relationships – isn’t exactly true. Yes, he tried to take things with Carol too far, and too fast, and he didn’t think things through with Pam’s mom. But Jan ultimately contributed just as much to the toxicity of that relationship as Michael did, and the only thing Michael did wrong in the relationship with Holly was letting David Wallace find out about it, which he would have sooner or later, anyway. We’ve seen Michael screw things up at an earlier stage (see the recent appearance of Date Mike – and shouldn’t the events of that episode also have taken Pam out of the Michael-coaching business?), but once he gets serious with someone, he’s as apt to do well as to screw things up. So a lot of the characterization in this one didn’t quite ring true.

Dwight run amok is always hit-or-miss for me, as it was even during this episode. Dwight being both gross and a bad exerciser while trying to seduce Donna was a little too much, but I loved him in both the Morse Code sequence and then in the tag where he took over the spin class and tried to save his classmates from rape.

As for the Darryl/Andy subplot, it’s nice to have Craig Robinson in the mix again, and to see Darryl trying to punk another oblivious office staffer(*). But the story ultimately felt as sloppy and improvised as the web of lies Darryl kept trying to spin about the Sabre conspiracy.

(*) Last week, when I wrote about the possibility of the show trying to continue without Steve Carell, someone suggested that the way to do that is not to promote Jim or Pam to run the branch, but to promote Andy. And while the Darryl/Andy pairing wasn’t nearly as funny as some vintage Darryl/Michael pranking, the dynamic was similar enough – and Andy has the Michael Scott-ian mix of cluelessness and sweetness – that I’m starting to see how that might work. Of course, I’d want the writing to be a lot stronger than it’s been for most of this season.

What did everybody else think?

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