Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.

Part 1
"Beach Games" is a highly entertaining episode, with a lot of time for many characters, including those lost in the shuffle this year -- Meredith, and to an extent, Stanley -- with brilliant moments from Angela and Kevin, some development of Andy, and more of the sneakiness from Jim.

Actually, what's worse about Jim and his girl sneaking around to try to get the corporate job is that it's very similar to the behavior that Jim witnessed from his boss in Stamford, and what he said, angrily and admiringly, that Michael Scott would never do. Well, guess what, Halpert, Scott's still not doing it. You are.

And that brings us to Karen, who has so little to do that it's understandable that Rashida Jones would search for a pilot. Granted, she's had bigger parts in other episodes, and just last week, she battled by proxy with Pam for Jim through Michael, but in such a pivotal JAM episode, she seemed neutered, irrelevant. Unless the producers were going for a Pam-like effect -- she blows up because she feels neutered and irrelevant -- it seems as if an opportunity was wasted. Maybe the season finale will remedy that omission.

But by and by, this is a Pam episode. It's as close to a M*A*S*H character profile as you'll see on "The Office" -- for those unfamiliar, "M*A*S*H" would, especially in later years, take an episode that had relatively little humor and do a serious look at the psyche, development and nuances of one particular player.

Pam here is a full examination of our three years with the character. She reflects some viewer frustrations -- of her lack of courage, lack of JAM fun, and dislike, even if not admitted, of Karen. Mainly, she reflects someone who feels trapped, and how the person who should understand that the most -- Jim, who very early on joked if killing himself if Dunder-Mifflin became his career -- is so beyond noticing her that he's on the fast track toward a D-M career. That's even before how we get to the Karen dilemma.

It's a huge, consistently good episode, but odd in that nothing matters but the last several minutes.


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