Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.


Suddenly, supersizing several episodes doesn't seem as good an idea as I thought. Funny, but long.

However, "The Office" has a penchant for getting off to slow starts (most of the abbreviated first season, last year's Jim-in-exile episodes) with the exception of Season 2's "The Dundies," perhaps the quintessential "Office" episode.
So this isn't so unusual, or bad.

Two things most people seem to be focusing on: How Karen's relative disappearance isn't good, and how Jim and Pam becoming a couple so fast isn't good.

I think both opinions are incorrect.

Karen was there for a purpose: to present an alternative for Jim and to show he's not pathetically longing after Pam. She was also there to make Pam make a decision for herself and not in reaction to others. Both have been accomplished, plus Karen was caricatured (slightly) into a pushy almost-bitch that Jim wouldn't want to be with regardless of Pam's availability.
She's been phased out by a need for synergy, to use corporate-speak.

As for JAM, it's been almost 60 episodes. Much longer, and it strains any realm of reality and gives viewers who aren't JAM-centric no reason to watch (examples: almost any show with a male and female lead who aren't involved at the show's inception). And as for shorter, unless you're "Newsradio" and fling them together in the first post-pilot episode, you wouldn't have wanted to miss all of Season 3's tying of loose ends, right? ("Newsradio," of course, with its disdain of NBC and story arcs, wasn't terribly serious with its Dave-Lisa romance)
The best hope is that by pushing JAM into the background, with forays into their relationship troubles and successes, the focus gets put back on the wonderful varied zanyness of Michael Scott and Co. There's a cast of about 60, after all: Use them.

And that's where the pluses come in: Meredith gets about as many lines that aren't one-liner drunk jokes in this ep as she did in all of Season 2. Michael proves new ways to cause revulsion and gain sympathy simultaneously; or, judging by the finale of the fun run, to at once be nauseous and nauseated.
Creed gets his oddball comments in, Dwight and Angela reach new horrors in their romance, and Kevin and Oscar prove a perfect platonic odd couple. That's the "Office" that sparkles when mixed with the regular interactions with Pam and Jim and just a dash of JAM.
Maybe it's not the ratings-grabber "Office"; but it's the Emmy-winning version and the version that puts it in the humor realm of the greats.

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