Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Survivor Man" Review

All play and no work makes Survivor Man a dull episode.

Okay, so it wasn't THAT dull (it's The Office; it's never bad), but it was certainly my least favorite of the season. Too much time was spent with Michael out in the wilderness and not enough on the good birthday fun going on inside the office.

The episode did have its moments, though.

For starters, I enjoyed Dwight's hidden weaponry. All that stuff was great.

Dwight: People say, "Oh, it's dangerous to keep weapons in the home or the work place." Well I say, "It's better to be hurt by someone you know accidentally, than by a stranger on purpose."

And all the birthday stuff with Jim was fun, too. I loved that Pam was having fun with the idea of Jim being assertive and "shaking things up a bit." Too cute.

Jim's notion of having a communal birthday party didn't even sound like a good idea to me. I was definitely on the side of the other employees. Anything to get me out of actually having to do work.

Kevin: Yeah, I work hard all day. I like knowing that there's going to be a break. Most days I just sit and wait for the break.

Right on, Kev.

Even practical-minded Oscar didn't like the idea.

I also loved that, during his one day in power, Jim slowly evolved into a more Michael-like position. It kind of gives you an idea of how Michael became the character that he is.

After all, it's gotta be tougher than one might think to try and play moderator to an office full of picky employees. You can't please 'em all. Although, I think Jim's social skills would carry him further than Michael...or at least make him a more tolerable boss (and a cute a one at that).

Jim: Yup, Phyllis called me Michael. And I will always and forever be haunted by that fact.

Some of the scenes with Michael in the woods were fun and some fell flat. I did like the pants tent scene. (I'm embarrassed to say I didn't get the joke until earlier this week when someone mentioned it online. My mind just didn't go there for some reason, but obviously I think it's hilarious now).

Michael: Well if you take a look at this, I tented my pants. I've made myself a nice pants tent shelter.

The mushroom scene was pretty awesome, too.

Dwight: I will let harm befall him. I will even let him die. But I will never let him lose his dignity.

But the scene that really MADE this episode for me was the bonding moment between Jim and Michael at the very end. That was so adorably funny. Jim confesses his birthday mistake and Michael admits to having tried it himself at one point in the past. (Okay, actually this whole conversation is totally worth posting and it says it much better than I ever could. So here goes):

Jim: You did do it?
Michael: Uh huh. Yeah, just wait. Ten years, you'll figure it out.
Jim: Well, I don't think I'll be here in ten years.
Michael: That's what I said... That's what she said.
Jim: That's what who said?
Michael: I never know. I just say it. I say stuff like that, you know, to lighten the tension...When things sort of get hard.
Jim: That's what she said.
Michael: Hey! Nice. Really good. Bravo, my young ward.

For that scene alone, I can't dislike this episode. I don't know about you, but it certainly left me satisfied and smiling.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Branch Wars" Review & WGA Strike

Silly string and a ‘Finer Things Club’ in one episode? The irony behind these little absurdities proved to be rather irresistible indeed.

When I initially saw the promos for Branch Wars I have to say that I was not too thrilled to see Jim, Dwight, and Michael sporting fake mustaches and warehouse uniforms. “How far can they take this without it being completely ridiculous?” I thought. Then I saw the episode.

If it weren’t for Jim’s level-headed disapproval of Michael and Dwight’s cockamamie scheme to “panty raid” the Utica branch, this episode would have been a little too over-the-top, but thanks to attentive writing by Mindy Kaling and clever directing by Joss Whedon the scenes remained somewhat grounded and were delightfully thrilling to watch.

In no other TV show will you hear hilarious lines such as Dwight’s “You’re making me spray!” and “I think I cut my penis on the lid!” and have it be completely believable and true to character. I love that Dwight thought absolutely nothing of setting off actual bombs at the Utica branch and that it only took Michael 10 seconds to approve of the notion, as well.

Jim’s attempts to avoid being implemented in the ordeal all together were pretty hilarious, too; especially when they involved Karen. In fact, my favorite line came from Michael in the scene where Jim tries to duck out of sight in the car while Karen is a few yards away.

Michael: Take her to a motel. Make love to her, Jim…Just climb on top of her and think about Stanley. …Jim, if this is it for me, promise me something. Host the Dundies?

(See how Mindy slipped in a reference from one of her own episodes?).

The scene with Karen and Jim near the end was so enjoyably awkward. I felt bad for both of them, actually (well, more so for Jim, but…). He reacted rather boyishly to her confrontational interrogation and kept accidentally putting his foot in his mouth.

For example:

Karen: Thank you so much for coming to Utica, and breaking my copier, and telling me how well things are going in your relationship. Really, thank you.
Jim: [slinking out of the room] Alright, you are welcome.

(I loved the way Jim slipped out of the room at the end).

I also loved that the whole purpose for these futile shenanigans ended up being due to a failed bluff by Stanley to earn more money. Brilliant.

Pam’s ‘Finer Things Club’ was also great fun (and what a great opportunity for Toby, eh)? I loved the montage of Pam, Toby, and Oscar dressed in different outfits and eating themed food to the various books they had been reading each month. The French berets were the best. Did you notice they were eating crepes?

Andy trying to get into the club was painfully fun, as well. The deleted scenes show that Pam, Oscar, and Toby decided to put him on a wait list, which seemed to please Andy to no end. (Also in that scene, did you notice that Pam was using the same teapot that Jim gave her in the Christmas episode from season 2)?

I loved Pam’s pity-invite of Jim to the ‘Finer Things Club’ and I loved even more that Jim fouled up his opportunity by putting on an Irish accent for “Angela’s Ashes” and then not even bothering to read the book; calling the somber novel a “fun read”. The disdain on Toby’s face at that line was terrific.

Toby: What was fun about it for you? Was it the death of the twins?
Jim: No, that wasn't fun.

In any case, I’m sure Toby is none too pleased to have Jim pry his way into the club he had so happily shared with Pam. Oh, and Pam shaking her head in disapproval at Jim and mouthing the words “I’m Sorry” to Oscar was great.

Overall, I’d say it was an amusingly fun episode, which seems to be a forte of Mindy Kaling’s. (Think of episodes she wrote like The Dundies and Diwali). We need these silly episodes every now and again. They help lighten the mood of the show. After all, Office hi jinks are always fun as long as they come in small doses.

As we all know, the WGA (writer's guild) is on strike. Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson have not shown up for work this week (as they are members of WGA) along with producer Greg Daniels. The writers will not cross the picket line. Here is a picture of writer Gene Stupnitsky (who has graciously replied to a couple of my MySpace messages) and Ed Helms picketing, courtesy of ricksterbot: Click here for the image.

I support this strike 100%, but I can't say that I'm happy the show has been put on hold. Greg and Rainn said the episode that was scheduled to shoot this week was the best episode either of them have ever read for the entire series. So that's a little sad and frustrating because I'm so anxious to see it. But who knows how long this strike will last?

The WGA Strike of 1988 lasted about 6 months and cost the industry $500 million dollars (source). If we have a repeat of that this time around, Season 4 of The Office may well be over come Thanksgiving Thursday when we run out of episodes. In the meantime, there are two episodes that have already been produced and are scheduled to air; this week's "Survivor Man" and next week's "The Deposition".

So lets keep our fingers crossed for a positive outcome for the WGA and hope that it wall all end soon. VERY soon.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

"The People Person's Paper People"

Even though last week's 'Local Ad' was not one of my favorite episodes, I did enjoy it more the second time around. It's safe to say that it is certainly a very endearing episode.

Andy not knowing the -Kit Kat- part of "Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar," was too funny. I loved all the things he came up with to fill in that space; such as, "Break me off a piece of that: applesauce, Chrysler car, football cream, lumber tar, Snickers bar, Grey Poupon, NutraSweet, and (my personal favorite) Poison Gas.

In the end, Andy settled on "Break me off a piece of that Fancy Feast."

"It's the cat food! NAILED IT."

This moment was also hilarious:

"I kind of know what it's like to be in commercials. My nickname in high school used to be Kool-Aid Man."

And this moment:

"I find the mystery genre disgusting. I hate being titillated."

The second version of Daryl's jingle "The People Person's Paper People" was terrific. Those moments were a lot of fun.

But my favorite moment from this episode?

"Oh D. Oh D!!!!"

That was awesome. That got the loudest laugh of the night from me.

Dwight's avatar was pretty comical, too. It gave me an odd mixture of feelings that lie somewhere between amusement and pity.

Jim's little insecurities in this episode were really sweet. I loved his embarrassment at Pam's discovery of 'Philly Jim'; his avatar. That was rather charming.

And I know I'm being a cliche fan girl here, but how adorable is he?

I also really enjoyed the moment at Poor Richards when the waiter started to hit on Pam and Jim quickly put his arm around her to make it obvious she was taken. (I know. I'm sappy. I can't help it. I could actually go on for ages about how he seemed a little unsure of himself when Pam didn't go home with him and how he got her breakfast the next morning, etc). What a cutey.

And who would have thought that Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin ad would be so much better than the professional one? His was great! Everyone got in on the action and, for the first time, seemed to really enjoy one of Michael's video concoctions.

So, the more I think about it, the more I like this episode. Sometimes it's the shows I have the least enthusiasm for at first that end up being my favorites. Diwali was a prime example. It wasn't an episode that I clung to at first, but now it's one of my favorites of season 3. There's something really sweet about it and Local Ad almost shares the same sort of sentiment to me. So...we'll see.

Anyhow, stay tuned for tonight's episode "Branch Wars" where Karen Fillipelli makes a return appearance as she tries to steal Stanley from the Scranton branch!