Friday, January 25, 2013

WE JUST WANT TO SEE HOW YOU END UP:  That's what the off screen camera crew on The Office said when we heard from them for the first time earlier this season (in the context of Jim and Pam asking about why the crew stuck around Scranton so long), and it's also a pretty accurate reason of why the remaining audience is watching.  We haven't talked about the show in a while, and 90% of last night's episode followed the standard pattern of an amusing cold open basically unrelated to the episode's plot and the remainder of the episode returning to wells of diminishing revenue (Dwight is a Jackass, Andy/Erin/Pete love triangle, basically anything to do with Nellie, even if pairing her with Toby is kind of inspired). 

That said, the final few minutes of the episode, in which Pam finally has a breakdown about Jim being in Philly and we see the camera crew for the first time were tonally jarring, really well performed by Krasinski (getting to play against his nice guy image for once) and Fischer, and made me wonder if The Office might actually have a downbeat ending.  It was particularly shattering after a 30 Rock in which things moved rapidly towards an implausibly happy ending for everyone.  We'll see where they go with this (the cast and producers' statements indicate that this is a big milestone on the way to the end), but I'm in it to the end.


  1. If this gambit of theirs was a hail-mary to give the last season relevance, it worked, because I've been very excited for this development, and like you, I never stopped watching and will continue to until the end. I root for Jam, but it would be nice for there to be stakes in the final lap.

  2. Marsha5:52 PM

    I'm in until the end too, though they haven't really earned that. If this show were not part of the Thursday night block that I tape as a single unit (because otherwise I miss the excellent tags on Community, P&R, and 30Rock), I might have stopped by now. The show is unfunny and painful to watch most of the time - if I'm watching a sitcom solely for its dramatic elements, something is wrong.

    I reserve judgment on the intrusion of the crew until I see where they go with it.

    No comment by anyone on Meredith's wig?!

  3. isaac_spaceman6:04 PM

    A couple of things. First, this is not the British Office. It is sentimental to its core. So we may not know the details of how everything works out, we know that ultimately it will work out, and it probably will involve some kind of grand gesture.

    Second, for a show that is so sentimental, it is awfully cavalier about infidelity. I can't think of this ever occurring in any other character-based (as opposed to joke-based) network comedy. Angela cheated on Andy with Dwight. She cheated on the Senator with Dwight. The Senator cheated on her with Oscar. The show's foundational conflict was the Jim-Pam lets-not-call-it-a-courtship within the shadow of the Pam-Roy engagement. All of those involved either a marriage or an engagement; they don't even include the weird set of arcs for Ellie Kemper's Erin, who fell in delayed-gratification love with Andy, then abruptly dumped him, then re-fell in love with Andy while dating Gabe, and now is falling for Pete while supposedly dating Andy. And the show is really ambivalent about whether to play these scenes for laughs (Oscar's anxiety, Angela's revenge plan), for pathos (the look Angela gives Oscar when she figures it out, which might have been the dramatic high point of the series), or for both (the ugliness of Dwight's preening).

    Anyway, I raise this because there was something unsettling about Brian The Handsome Sound Guy rushing through the fourth wall to comfort Pam. I guess I feel like another ugly love triangle in this season of endless ugly love triangles would be one too many. It's Scranton, not the South Fork Ranch or the Constance Billiard School for Girls.

  4. Marsha9:46 PM

    Hah! I was thinking more "bad Marilyn Monroe costume" but that works too.