Review: ‘The Office’ – ‘Couples Discount’

A quick review of last night’s “The Office” coming up just as soon as we go outside to play catch…

“Couples Discount” was a fairly unpleasant episode to sit through – except, that is, in those moments when I began to wonder if the entire episode was a stealth commentary on what a terrible drag Andy has become on the show. Certainly, there were enough references to how much better things had gone during his absence, and to how much everybody used to like him once upon a time, that it’s plausible to believe that Greg Daniels and company are aware of how the character has come across for quite some time now and have decided to make that part of the show.

The problem with that, though, is that it happened while reintroducing Andy himself as a significant part of the show, and I imagine we’re being set up for a story arc where Andy tries to redeem himself. On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine the character as presented here continuing as a regular character on the show – Michael Scott could be oblivious and insensitive and difficult to deal with, but he never sucked all the air out of the room the way Andy did. On the other, I’m not sure I’d trust even Greg Daniels to salvage Andy – particularly since it was on Daniels’ watch that Andy went on the horrible boat trip. I understand it was necessary to let Ed Helms make six more “Hangover” sequels, but it took the bad situation of a character who was floundering as the hero of the show and made it worse by making him unlikable rather than just bland. Given how relatively well things went during Helms’ absence – and how little the “Hangover” halo effect has helped the show’s ratings – I wish someone had been willing to say, “You know what, Ed? Thanks for the time, but I think it’s probably best for all involved if Andy stays on the boat.”

As for Jim and Pam, I was heartened for about 5 seconds at the mention of Brian’s wife and the group friendship, until I realized that we were being set up to learn that the two of them had split, which was fueling Brian’s feelings for Pam. I actually thought the scene where Pam insisted that Jim stay so they could have their fight, Valentine’s Day or not, was a good one – it felt real and mature in the way that couple fights on TV rarely do, and it illustrated how effectively the show could probably deal with Halpert-Beasley marital strife without requiring a third party. But we’re clearly not done with Brian’s crush on Pam yet, and he’s an unnecessary intruder at this late date.

What did everybody else think? Were you at least relieved that Erin dumped Andy and got him in trouble with David, or would you rather Helms was off in movie-land for good?