10
Feb
2012
The Office: Season 8, Episode 14
Special Project
Michael Richardson
Last week I managed to poison myself with some poorly-cooked dish and spent Friday in bed. I was not able to deliver a review of that week's Office. "It'll be ok," I told myself as my kidneys and pancreas seemingly did battle with a confederacy of my other organs, "I'll just pull double duty with next week's episode." And you know what - I'm glad I did. Because when taking these two episodes together, everything terrible in this season comes to the forefront.

I did not mind last week's episode. Rainn Wilson's finest moment on The Office was his breakdown after Angela left him permanently a few seasons ago. There was a recognizable emotional moment where Dwight seemed like a real person. I don't want to The Office to feature some weekly emotional crescendo - in fact, I've criticized it for that earlier in the season. But that part of the show serves as a good reminder that Dwight wasn't always such a jackass. And it explains why last week's suggestion that he has a child isn't as silly a twist as it might otherwise be. I've given a lot of shit to the writers this season who have been unable to craft any serious long-term stories or relationships on the show. Andy and Erin have been especially underwhelming, being addressed only when the story needs it. Angela's pregnancy has never been pointed to as a possible source of drama on this show, unless I missed some extraordinarily subtle clues. If it is a legitimate possibility that Dwight is the father of the child, I hope they planned for this earlier in the season rather than just throwing it against the wall in the hope that it sticks this week. Because there could be potentially a lot of ripe material from this storyline. The Office, it seems, could take this and run with it.

But they don't. After a brief mention in the beginning of the episode, the big twist of last week gets swept under the rug. And it's not like the episode wanted to focus on different characters - Dwight is the one under the spotlight again. Wouldn't his big news overshadow a great deal of his life now? Do the writers on this show even speak to one another in between writing episodes by themselves? Nope, he's going to Florida to assemble a team to open up a store. He does a funny dance to celebrate.

Instead of my traditional review, I'm just gonna list some of the gags in this week episode.

- Andy and Erin bond over frog facts. This is supposed to be quirky and awkward but it makes me think about the legal implications of an emotionally damaged man dating a developmentally stunted woman.

- Darryl mistakes a hat from his new love interest as an act of affection, even though she gave one to everyone in the warehouse. He is forced to give the gift he bought her to that creepy guy who works down there. He likes it in a creepy way, and Darryl looks all exasperated.

- Dwight is comically inept at picking out a crack team, but he is still kind of racist.

- There are no jokes about Jim and Pam, except for the joke the show played on all of us by turning their most fun, interesting character into boring assholes.

- At one point, Meredith asks why Cathy still works here, even though Pam is back. Self-referential humor is always good, but sometimes it's a bad idea to point out your gaping plot-holes.

Oh, how I wish that last joke was only a single, stupid line. But it turns out Cathy is our hook for this Florida trip plot. You see, she has fallen in love with Jim and wishes to break up his marriage in order to sleep with him. I know what you are thinking - who the flying fuck is Cathy? I know I was, and I watch this show every week. It's the dark-haired girl who was replacing Pam and had a total of maybe five lines all season. Way to foreshadow such a dramatic plot twist! We can definitely see why Jim would be tempted by her with her personality and characteristics, of which I'm sure she has several.

The Office was once a great show, but it's lost everything that made it great. It's not just Michael Scott leaving, though that made the show scramble to find it's footing. Last week's episode offered a glimmer of a plot line going forward, which this episode saw fit to throw away and create its own glimmer of a plot line going forward. The characters have fallen flat, the jokes are easy, the plot lines are nonsensical and any goodwill it has built up has been corrupted by an inherent laziness that has festered through this season. It's not going to make a comeback.


Grade: D

Miscellaneous:
The team is going to Florida to brainstorm ideas for this store, yet all the members are from the Scranton branch. Who is reading these scripts before they are committed to film? Why not brainstorm in Scranton, then send one person down. Perhaps one who is not clinically insane.


Tags: The Office
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