SPOILER ALERT: Actually, I don’t think anything in the post below constitutes a spoiler of last night’s Office, but if you’re leery of that sort of thing, skip it.
There are two kinds of Office episodes, the belly-laugh-funny episodes (e.g., “Business School,” particularly the slapstick scene with the bat) and the uncomfortable-and/or-touching episodes (Michael and Jan’s dinner party, e.g., or Michael’s breakup with Holly). Last night’s episode was one of the former, and while there’s nothing wrong with that—”Business School” remains one of my favorite Offices ever—it was a little too traditionally sitcommy to be a top-tier Office.
For starters, there was the A plot, the battle between Oscar and Pam over buying a copier or new chairs, which was essentially an update of the classic Brady Bunch scenario. There’s not anything inherently wrong with that; it just seemed like a setup for a different sitcom from The Office. Ditto Andy stepping in the cowpie in Dwight’s kitchen. I laughed, it just seemed a little out of place—the kind of rapid-fire gag you might see on, say, 30 Rock. (Also, I thought the B plot was going to advance the wedding plot in some way, but except for Andy getting to first base with his fiance, it seemed to leave things at status quo ante.)
Not that there wasn’t plenty that went right. Pretty much every confessional interview with Michael, for instance (“I love Burlington Coat Factory. You go in there with $645, you are literally a king”); the argument between Dwight and Angela over the “cow-butter sculpture of a cat,” which recalled the original feline-cide that led to their breakup; the fact that it was Oscar and Pam who differed on the surplus, again reminding us that the two rub each other the wrong way for some reason; Jim and Pam becoming temporary enemies…
Sigh. I find myself talking myself into liking the episode better as I write. Maybe I should let you take over. Have my critical faculties been damaged by my TiVo outage?