September 22nd, 2006
BEWARE OF SPOILERS! If you have not yet watched last night’s episode of “The Office,” do not read this post until you have done so (this means you, Porpoise!).
My trust in the writers of NBC’s “The Office” has not gone unrewarded. In last night’s season 3 premiere, our Dunder-Mifflin crew dealt with the Jim-Pam cliffhanger just as I hoped they would. Pam broke things off with Roy, but didn’t immediately jump into anything with Jim. Moreover, Jim took the proffered promotion and has been transferred to the Stamford branch, leaving everyone in the “oh, how adorably pitiful” situations we like to see them in.
I even felt sympathy for Roy when he brought Pam the frozen, uneaten wedding dinners and asked her, “Chicken or fish?” Now, if I feel sympathy for Roy, that’s some good writing.
Jim’s attempts to connect with his new, more uptight Stamford coworkers are so delightfully poignant: when he puts the Ed Helms character’s calculator in Jell-O, you know how much he misses fighting with his old deskmate, Dwight Schrute. His silent interaction with the camera crew, as he goes from amused, “yes, I put the calculator in Jell-O” pride to “don’t you dare let on that it was me” fear was priceless.
Entertainment Weekly now has a “TV Watch” going on “The Office,” which means that one of their staff comments on each week’s episode online. This week’s reviewer, Abby West, writes: “Why is it that Michael can say the most idiotic, prejudiced things, out a gay employee, insult his boss, and then, when someone rightly calls him out on it, make me feel sad for him? Steve Carell is a genius, that’s why. A genius, I say.”
I’m with West there. As far as I’m concerned, Steve Carell’s ability to inject obnoxious boss Michael Scott with pathos takes the NBC show beyond its BBC predecessor. The more sympathetic Michael emerged at the beginning of the second season, when the American show came into its own. The premiere of the second season in September 2005 also coincided with the aftermath of the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin: with audiences having responded so well to Carell’s sweetly pathetic character in that movie, the timing worked well for introducing a more sympathetic side of Michael. And it hasn’t gotten old.
Our guests assembled to watch “The Office” last night debated about when—not if—Jim will return to the Scranton branch. Dormouse predicts that it will be just in time for “sweeps” in November. We’ll see. Until then, we’ll glare at usurper Ryan, who has no right to sit at Jim’s desk!
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