‘The Office’ – ‘Viewing Party’: What’s the opposite of glee?

Senior Television Writer
11.12.10 87 Comments


A quick review of last night’s “The Office” coming up just as soon as I love sweaters (and wearing sweaters)…

Hoo-boy. That’s two dreadful episodes in a row for “The Office,” and if I hadn’t looked back over some of my earlier reviews to remember that I did quite like some of this season’s earlier episodes (Timothy Olyphant’s intro, or the Michael/Toby counseling show), I would be feeling really alarmed about this season right now.

“Viewing Party” was a slight improvement on “Christening,” in that it had a few funny moments, where “Christening” only had the one line from Toby to God. Here, I was amused by some of the stuff on the margins of the “Glee” viewing party, from Kelly’s anal, nitpicky “Glee” obsession (“Honestly, that show? It’s irresponsible”) to Creed reading Chinese to Oscar getting furious at Erin for not having used the DVR to record the episode to Kevin wanting a pig in a blanket in a blanket. And I thought Jenna Fischer was terrific in the Pam/Cece/Dwight subplot, though some of my appreciation definitely came from being the father of two kids who were problem sleepers as babies, and from having a heroic wife who stayed up with them.

But so, so much of the episode didn’t work. At all.

It wasn’t even that it was an uncomfortable viewing experience, of which the show has provided both good (Michael and Jan’s dinner party) and bad (Phyllis’ wedding) examples. It was, like “Christening,” just lifeless. There were long stretches where I wasn’t even sure what I was expected to be laughing at, and while the show has definitely done some great episodes that were light on jokes (season four’s “Money” is the one I usually point to, but there have been others), they worked because they were good character studies. This was just Michael being petulant and crabby for a whole episode, which is by far my least favorite Michael Scott flavor (I even prefer him when he’s being over-the-top and slapsticky).

Ellie Kemper and Steve Carell almost were able to save the episode in the closing moments with Erin’s reaction to Michael declaring that he’s not her father, and with Michael for once correctly reading someone else’s reaction, it came far too late in an episode that was more concerned with Andy vomit humor (and Andy’s mooning over Erin, which I lost interest in a very long time ago) and Michael trying to ruin everyone else’s fun because he wasn’t the center of attention.

What did everybody else think?

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