‘The Office’ – ‘WUPHF.com’: Master of your domain name

Senior Television Writer
11.19.10 110 Comments


A review of last night’s “The Office” – which might be moving out of the regular blog rotation – coming up just as soon as I own a decommissioned lighthouse…

Sigh… I don’t know anymore. I just don’t know. After the last three episodes, we’re at the point where I’m dreading having to watch this show, let alone write about it.

And the thing is, the episodes before these three had some good things in them. I liked the Tim Olyphant intro episode, and much of the Halloween episode that followed. I enjoyed the button the show put on the Michael/Toby relationship in “Counseling,” and the nepotism plot from the premiere.

But isolated bits of humor aside (Toby’s lament to God in “Christening,” Stanley’s lighthouse fantasy here), these last three have been depressingly bad. It’s not just that they haven’t been especially funny, but that they’ve felt tired – either like everyone’s been doing the show too long and wants to do something else, or like everyone’s just marking time until Steve Carell goes and they figure out what the show is going to become. Everything is so low-energy (as opposed to effectively low-key episodes like, say, season five’s episode about the woman Michael met on the blood drive) that I just feel sad as I watch them.

A few specific complaints, and then I think my approach may be to wait for an episode that’s either better or at least more interesting in the way it doesn’t work before I do another write-up:

First, I get that part of the Michael Scott Farewell Tour is providing closure on his various relationships. With Toby in “Counseling,” it worked; with Ryan, it didn’t, because this current incarnation of the character is both so loathsome and such a cartoon that even Michael Scott wouldn’t have this big of a blindspot for him anymore. I understood Michael’s man-crush on him during the original temp days, and even in spots during Ryan’s reign of error at Dunder-Mifflin corporate, but the guy he’s been since the end of the Michael Scott Paper Company era is such a massive tool that I can’t stand watching Michael still be in thrall to him. Yes, the episode was about Pam making Michael realize this, but he shouldn’t have needed to, and the whole thing was uncomfortable.

Second, I now hate Jim. I completely, totally hate Jim. This bums me out. I think the idea of Jim rededicating himself to goofing off in light of the new Sabre commission cap (so much for “sales is king,” eh?), but this one didn’t work at all. I think there was a germ of a good idea here – the older, more mature and responsible Jim struggles to recreate his more carefree season two self – but what we mostly got was Jim wandering around aimlessly looking for something to do and then a prank on Gabe that wasn’t so much clever as simply time-consuming. And even though Gabe represents a kind of annoying corporate stooge it’s been my misfortune to know, I still find him a far more sympathetic victim than Dwight.

And third, the hay village gimmick was screaming out for some Mose Schrute. I get that Mike Schur doesn’t work on the show anymore, that “Parks and Rec” keeps him very busy and that he doesn’t like wearing the beard in the first place, but if you can’t have Mose wandering around the fringes of this thing – or, failing that, can’t get James Urbaniak to come back as Dwight’s friend Rolf – then don’t do it. Dwight needs someone to play off of, even if that someone is insane and/or doesn’t talk much. I was so disappointed by the Mose-less-ness that I couldn’t even feel happy to see Jack Coleman find post-“Heroes” employment as Angela’s new love interest.

What did everybody else think?

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