Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.


"The eyes are the groin of the head." ~ Dwight Schrute

"If you wanted to see me, you could have just called me, like an adult." ~ Karen
"Oh, no, I didn't want to see you." ~ Jim


An unusual episode of "The Office," or perhaps just unusual because amid the over-the-top lunacy that has peppered "The Office"'s fourth season -- this time, it was Michael's "panty raid" on Utica -- the insider's look at office cliques, relationships and personalities has been diminished.

We have Mindy Kaling, or Kelly, to thank for correcting that this week. Not only does she not write episodes for herself, a la B.J. Novak for Ryan, she also loves exploring Jim and Pam and their relationships. Her episodes could make a best-of DVD and notably have brought real-life issues into the office dynamic: "Hot Girl," "The Dundies," (which is referenced by Michael in "Branch Wars," asking Jim to host them for him) "The Injury," "Take Your Daughter To Work Day," "Diwali" and "Ben Franklin."

Unfortunately, "Ben Franklin" and "Branch Wars" have been the most implausible and with the fewest "true to life" moments. Not to say there wasn't a tremendous amount of laughter. For pure laughs, this episode had silly gags (the mustaches and walkie-talkie convos, Jim and the cameraman getting caught), Michael's odd basing-life-on-movies philosophy (in this case, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), solid work from Stanley and Andy and a great line from Oscar about the Finer Things Club being the most gay thing he does -- besides having sex with men.

What works?
1. Despite it being ludicrous, even for "The Office," the trip to Utica is made semi-believable because Michael and Dwight out of the office consistently pull off a great twisted, demented interpretation of Andy Taylor and Barney Fife on a stakeout.
2. Karen and Jim's interaction. Karen is right for still being upset, but is still a really big bitch. Kudos for Jim for telling Karen he didn't want to see her (and telling her multiple times and ways), but his fear of confrontation and impatience with any woman not named Pam shows when he is somehow shocked that Karen responds sarcastically to him.
3. Oscar being in the Finer Things Club. As much as he enjoys paper football with Kevin, the cool head-nod fraternity with Jim, he's a cultural man who doesn't get much of that from Dunder-Mifflin or from accounting.
4. The nod to the cameraman being in the car with Jim and getting him caught. Brilliant, and much better than Jim actually trying to get involved with Michael and Dwight's scheme.

What doesn't work?
1. Pam's Fancy New Beesley being more like Karen (especially in snubbing Andy out of hand) than a liberated Pam. This isn't Roy's Pam in any way.
2. The mustaches. C'mon -- even as Michael trying to emulate some movie or show plot, it doesn't work, and that's not how they sold it.
3. The Finer Things Club being in the break room. Why would they think they'd be by themselves? Furthermore, why would it have worked before (in the flashback clips) but suddenly people start crowding them? I know, they have to keep some of the action inside the office.

All in all, still a good episode and one that, for the most part, stuck to strengths in exploring the characters' idiosyncrasies and how those affect office relations. Only, it's a lot funnier than most offices.

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With the return of regular-sized episodes and following the season-saving "Money," "The Office" gave an episode that felt most like Season Two and the best of Season Three.

There are differences, of course. Andy Bernard is now Dwight Schrute's primary tormenter, not Jim Halpert, although the torment is purely unintentional. Andy just really is excited to tell his buddy Dwight how he's macking with Angela, the secret ex of Dwight.
(By the way, between whatever hair and costumes is doing with Angela and her Letterman appearance, isn't Angela getting way hotter?)

But the similarities are there: Michael force-feeding his concept of something corporate on the office (like diversity or sexual harassment), with his mindless interpretations of political correctness (like assigning Oscar to costumes, Stanley to play the reformed felon, and Kelly dancing in front of the Taj Mahal).
There's also Pam's quiet giddiness and underappreciated (though never by Jim) efforts at being an artist, Jim's late turn toward sympathy regarding Michael (a la "Office Olympics," "E-Mail Surveillance" and "Benihana Christmas) and another staff gathering for booze. Seriously, I don't think Meredith is the only one with an alcohol problem there.

This episode is also an example of the show at its best: highlighting the mundane of office life but, ever briefly, rising above it. Yes, the show will have its plot-moving episodes (Karen's impending return among them), but when that's not happening, these shows are far better than Michael Scott lurching off into some sitcom fantasy that doesn't resemble any real life, even the exaggerations of Dunder-Mifflin.

Of course, I say this in part because the show has anticipated my recommendations and incorporated them for two weeks now.

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Not a lot, I don't think. Over at TV Squad, there's a lot of hand wringing, and Slate is pretty sure this is Bad Season #1.

The hour-long format has been a killer. "The Office" is not as good as we thought it might be when it's an hour long. Let's save them for the season finales.

Ryan is a terrible character, largely because B.J. Novak is a terrible actor. Furthermore, from interviews and such, he seems to lack any personality beyond being smarmy. The episodes he writes are too Ryan-centric, something the other dual performers avoid (even Steve Carell's only writing credit was for "Casino Night," the Pam-and-Jim cliffhanger).

Honestly, he needs to be downsized. He never should have been a title-credit character to begin with, and maybe he needs to be off the show. Since that won't happen, however, try these:

1. Don't worry too much. The show's got lots of good things going on and endless characters to exploit.

2. Keep using Angela a lot. Besides being a complicated character, she makes Dwight and Andy bearable outside of being the butt of pranks by Jim (and sometimes Pam).

3. Reel Michael in, and by that, I mean, reel Steve Carell in. He's hitting the stage of his success where he's thinking he can do anything and draw laughs. It could get ugly -- his movies already have. Remind him of how his subtleties made "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" a classic the same summer it outdid brasher surefire hit "Wedding Crashers" in every respect. Remind him how his post-1997 Bill Murray style of acting in "Little Miss Sunshine" greatly aided a Best Picture-worthy film.

Even without these things, though, "The Office" is still a must-watch. It hasn't fallen apart like "Scrubs" did last year, and it's not quite searching for meaning or a hook, like almost every other comedy is. And it's way the hell more accessible, JAM or not, than the great but elitist "30 Rock."

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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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Not winning Best Comedy wasn't the worst. After all, the show took more than a third of the season -- until Jim returned from Stamford -- to return to form, and the Jim/Pam saga was better done in Season Two.
All those moves were necessary to set up Season Four and follow the last bits of the British version's storyline, but it cost the show.

"30 Rock" (as a Tina Fey American Express card commercial plays behind me) was consistent, and brilliant for an eight-episode stretch (roughly). It also had fewer episodes and stretched creatively (more of the minor characters and Alec Baldwin; less of Jane Krakowski) while not stretching foolishly (an hour-long "30 Rock" would drown in its own wit and sarcasm). It's deserving, though probably the weakest winner this decade outside of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

The disappointment was the Emmy voters not seeing beyond the obvious choice (the brilliant but one-note Jaime Pressly) for the multi-faceted Jenna Fischer, whose dramatic chops could have earned her a nomination in the dramatic category some years. And not seeing past Jeremy Piven's so-last-year "Entourage" for Rainn Wilson, who admittedly, is a love-him-or-leave-him performer.
The good thing? The win for Best Writing, which has become the category that truly says what show was best (for instance, "Arrested Development" won it two years in a row, once capturing more nominations -- three -- than every other show combined).

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Is here, with much discussion and the link at Officetally.com.

The gist of it? Everybody except Meredith gets a say, and we find out what happened to Karen over the summer. Plus, Michael talks movies.

EDIT: Individualized videos.

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We lead off this session with what should almost be its own post. That is...

One of the greatest character actors ever, Charles Lane, has died at age 102. A founding Screen Actors Guild member, you'll see him every year in "It's A Wonderful Life" (and nine other Frank Capra films) and the "I Love Lucy" episode where she has her baby, but he's also in hundreds (!) of other films and shows. TV Land honored him on his 100th birthday, and you can see him picking up Ginger Rogers as a first-time prostitute (yes, you read that right) in "Primrose Path."
Sadly, there's not many other, much better clips I could find, although you can get "Lucy Goes To The Hospital" at Amazon.
For more, read some great thoughts and links at this fascinating blog.

In case you've forgotten any of the Lou Gehrig speech, made July 4, 1939, here's the text and the only audio available. Since the anniversary and the latest Old Timers Day was this week, I though I'd throw that in. For a shy, reticent man, he delivered more in a few minutes than most in a lifetime.

The worst football announcer of all time -- Bill Maas -- and a man who nearly made it impossible for me to watch New York Giants games has been arrested and as such is assuring us that he won't be back on the airwaves. Rejoice, one and all.

Jenna Fischer's blog has been picked as one of the best celebrity blogs. Sure, it's EW doing the picking, but still. It's a great insight into the show and the groundedness of its breakout star.

Michael Cera is moving on from "Arrested Development," but of course is inextricably linked to it. Read more about both here.

The deaths of Clete Boyer and other baseball figures, or rather, their lives, are remembered over at Bronx Banter. Boyer's Cooperstown connection, in particular, is recalled as we approach the induction of two other fine baseball gentlemen, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.

And last, and certainly most disgusting, is the news that Major League Baseball has enlisted Dane Cook as its postseason spokesman. The apt comparison with the NFL's choice is just the most-potent arrow slung at this target.

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Another week, another edition as time rolls on.

"Knocked Up," the next step in the evolution of frat comedies with heart, is either a masterpiece or a too-long, unoriginal affair.

Chris Cornell has a new album out. There's a streamed song here.

Carl Pavano has his huge contract to console him, but still, he's lost baseball's respect, the usefulness of his arm for a while, and his smoking-hot girlfriend.

"The Office" and other finales covered as only The Onion can.

Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert debate the Iraq war after the fact in a hard-edged verbal battle called "Even Stepvhen."

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It's more toward the end of the week, but oh well. Here we go:

The 1920 season for the New York Yankees, as reported by The New York Times. Great stuff, and especially interesting to see how the narrative has changed so drastically.

Jim Halpert Is Dead: Or so goes this interpretation, where our hero Dwight Schrute investigates the fall of his fellow worker.
Also, you can check out John Krasinski's spot on "Human Giant"'s 24-hour takeover of MTV. Also has the fantastic Will Arnett, Michael Cera, and Rob Riggle, he of Upright Citizens Brigade and a guest star on both "The Office" (Captain Jack) and "Arrested Development" (the congressman who visits Buster in his fake coma).

If you have a typewriter, this man can still fix it for you.

Another long-ago repeat to Midweek Links, The Constantines, have three of their songs for download on Myspace.

Pud Galvin
, exceptionally durable pitcher of the 1880s, was a steroid pioneer. He's been dead for 105 years, yet has a blog devoted to him.

Deadspin is all over the idiocy that is A-Rod's blonde. It's just a continuation of the culture of overhyping things just because they involve Alex Rodriguez.

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PopMatters reviews the finale with some interesting thoughts on Jim, Pam and the camera crew's role in all of this.

EDIT: Northern Attack at long last has its uniquely structured and always enlightening review up.

And lest we forget some of the hilarity the show provides, particularly in the earlier pranks, there's 34 of the best (sort of narrowed down to the top 10) "Office" moments.

And...there's already Season 4 spoilers, although nothing too shocking at the moment.

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Well, it wasn't boring. A show at its peak...


"The Office" season three finale is the culmination of the general theme of the American version -- that the dreariness of office life is sprinkled with little moments and feelings of hope within that despair. Despite the miles of potential ahead, the series could end now and have achieved everything it initially set out to do. Note: being an hour-long show, this post is going to feel an hour long. Sorry.

It's, for sure, not quite as much comedy as real-life drama. But it's not Gellar-ized, demasculinized "Friends" (something "How I Met Your Mother," for instance, as much as I was glad to see it renewed, teeters constantly on the edge of doing).
Rather, it's the most-solid foundation of comedy -- absurdity, cleverness and vapidity upon a bedrock of uneasy choices, issues and genuine relationships formed by and through people simply doing the best they can. Comedy without background loses its shock value, and even shock never stings quite as much as when it has that bit of serious truthfulness to it.
"The Job" is an episode, on the heels on the second half of season three, that vaults it alongside "Arrested Development" as the great 21st-century comedy (with apologies to "Scrubs" and a bunch of 1990s shows that lasted into this decade). Except, while "AD" was the heir to "NewsRadio," a similarly underappreciated genesis of genius writing, diverse spot-on acting and terrible things with terrible people in a realistic world just deranged enough to have you laugh instead of be horrified, "The Office" is the heir of, perhaps, "The Wonder Years." Comedy, yes, but one that cements itself in investing our lives in their lives. And, perhaps, like that show, one that in the end will not have happy endings -- or at least the ones we think should happen.

Paul Lieberstein, who plays Toby, deserves a lot of credit. He's written (or co-written) "The Client" and "Cocktails," two of the episodes that have starkly real moments. A fine choice for "The Job."

On that note, let's end the conspiracy theories. Ryan got the job. Jim and Pam aren't just having dinner. Karen will reappear, probably, but she's not going to be back at the Scranton branch, and maybe not the company. And if the above isn't true, it tarnishes the whole series. So there.
As for the episode itself, it's easiest to go character by character...

Karen ... is kind of a bitch. But not because of how she treats Pam. That's understandable, since she made a public play for her boyfriend, playing to his weaknesses and not apologizing a bit.

Rather, it's her complete lack of empathy. She joins in the listening and counsel of Michael as a form of pity and competition with Pam, not because she cares at all. Ditto her follow-the-leader with the dueling Christmas parties.
She does have some humanity, for sure. If we can't see it enough, it's possibly due to the lack of depth shown by Rashida Jones.
But Karen thinks Pam is out to get her long before the beach, and though she reaches out, it's in a condescending way. She fully believes there's a marked difference in them because one's sales and one's just a glorified secretary.
This week, Karen equates feeling bad for Jan and acknowledging she's crazy to be incompatible, when in reality they are joint emotions. In her interview with the CFO, she shows she's learned from Josh Porter more than anyone -- the CFO knows that Michael's crazy, but he can do the work and puts the company (and its people) first. Withdrawing from the position because Jan's fired is exactly what the CFO wants to see -- instead, Karen thinks it's hilarious. In this vein, he wants a 10-year plan because he doesn't want another Josh using leverage. Jim, who's clearly his protege, the man who doesn't like the corporate life (though the CFO compromised at some point), can only do 10 years in Scranton. Karen outlays five years and then says, and the other five, who knows? Because Dunder-Mifflin is not only just a job, it's already out of her mind.

In her relationship, she takes Jim's, oh sure, you don't have to wait, as a, thank God, I have stuff to do. She takes his homebody attitude as a deficiency to be erased, not, at worst, something to be worked on.
And worst of all, when she gives the ultimatum -- there's one too many people around in Scranton -- she doesn't give any thought to the fact that maybe Jim doesn't see things the same way. She shows she really isn't all that crazy for Jim after all, just for the idea of proving she can nab a guy like Jim.

Not a bad person. But not Jim's type of person, nor Pam's. She's New York to his Scranton.
And, as it seems to have turned out, not the Dunder-Mifflin corporate type. Sure, corporate set their bar low, but they want either decency or selfish arrogance -- not someone masquerading as having both.

The oddest thing is, in an office of bizzaro people -- from Angela to Kevin to Creed to Kelly to Michael to Dwight, etc., almost all of them are more humanizing than she is. Again, part of that, unfortunately, could be acting, or lack therof.

Michael just showed more of his bizarre humanity. Actually, it was a run of the mill episode for him, but by no means not funny. For him, as we saw in "Business School," business is the most personal thing in the world.
Ryan just keeps learning that being an SOB is the way ahead. To be fair, Kelly has probably driven him half-insane. Not my favorite character, but Ryan has to get a more prominent role soon to justify his opening-credits billing, and being the boss is a surefire way to do so.
Andy and Dwight would have made a great team. Andy being the loyal #2 who still looks to undermine for his own power, with both alternately being comforted and tricked by Pam. Well, maybe just Dwight getting comforted.
Creed and Meredith are stereotypes, but at least Creed gets dialogue like "Swing low, sweet chariots." Greatest character ever who's so low on the totem pole he's only listed as a guest star.

And on to the new couple.

Jim and Pam are pranksters, one by nature and the other by practice. But both prefer victims who refuse to give in, and both will come to the aid of those who feel abused, alone and cornered. For the many who don't seem to understand Pam's playing along with Dwight and his secret job title, it's obviously a chance for her to goof around. But notice her quick glance as the crew in the break room mocks people who "don't deserve their jobs" -- referring most to Michael and Dwight. She empathizes there, and despite their buffoonery will not let them be destroyed unless by their own doing.

JAM is not a perfect couple, not are their actions without fault. Both sought, to certain degrees, to sabotage the other's relationship. But both, at all times, have essentially said this -- I'm there for you, no matter what. Is he or she?
The difference in the past two episodes has been -- shocker -- they actually said these things to each other. And, the timing worked out. As opposed to not saying things in "Basketball," "The Dundies," "Sexual Harassment," "The Fight," "Christmas Party," "Booze Cruise," "The Secret," "Boys and Girls," or having awful timing like in "The Alliance," "Dwight's Speech," "Casino Night," "The Merger," "Benihana Christmas," etc.
And there in lies the real leap their characters make, Pam last week and Jim this week -- finally saying something without the prompting of the camera crew.

There's an awful lot of Pam talking to the camera this episode, but after all, the crew is more invested in this relationship than anyone. They snuck in to get last season's kiss, they're always asking pointed (and at Phyllis' wedding, "hypothetical") questions, and they are, in a sense, the confidant neither has outside of each other. Also, they are skeevy Peeping Toms when it comes to office relationships (Dwangela, for one, and every time Michael has relationship triumphs and failures), but still.

A year ago, I said the writers had to be careful not to ruin the show through overexposure of Jim and Pam. After this year, I can't see how they could do that unless they lost their minds -- or the current staff left. I'm confident the good trend will continue. And "The Office," for now, perhaps for a while, remains the best comedy on television -- a balance of everything anyone might want to get from whatever they consider a comedy.

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Eight p.m. It's a little earlier than its time slot as it ends it fabulous third season in an hour-long show. As I said a year ago and again more recently, the continual theme running through "The Office," or at least the JAM sessions, is that you can't kiss the engaged girl without repercussions. Pam's honestly therapy last week was just one more example of those shock waves. Tonight, I think, will bring more.
Read more...

Also, the finale is right before "Scrubs" ends its disastrous sixth season (and I'm not putting that lightly -- it's gone from most underrated to overrated in a year, and on Thursdays, slipped behind the slow-starting, somewhat one-dimensional but hilarious "30 Rock"). Maybe I'm too hard on "Scrubs," but the Zach Braff movement that used to only infect so-called comedic movies seems to have taken ahold of this show. Still, by terrible, I mean it's still an above-average show.

Anyways...

"The Office" started off a little slow, honestly, this year. They didn't seem to know quite how to divvy up the Stamford/Scranton time, and luckily, brought Jim back and ditched the boring Stamford characters quickly,although the Stamford branch head, Josh Porter, was a great counterpoint to Michael.
But it's really settled in, and even when fans don't like some plot point or "believability" factor (a ludicrous point considering if you find Michael, Dwight or Creed truly believable, you live in a different universe), at least they are talking about it. A lot. And watching, even if it's mostly on iTunes or DVR.

The sad news? Jenna Fischer broke her back in four places (fractured, they now say). That sounds terrible, but it's not like she's paralyzed. But I have no idea how long that takes to heal. She also missed "Conan," although we did get to see John Stamos' mutant belly button look like a Mr. Potato Head nose with the fake Tom Selleck mustache on it. Sound weird, right? Look here. Thankfully, they were out of time, because none of the three could stop laughing.

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EDIT: This IS brand-new news. According to The Two Cents, the Season 4 pickup is 25 episodes, with five one-hour spots for (to quote Bob Barker) an actual total of : 30 episodes. Also, "30 Rock" will be at 8:30 as the lead-in, or place where all the viewers switch. I love the show, by the way, but making it the lead-in when "The Office" is battling "Grey's" and "CSI" is NBC putting too much faith in Dunder-Mifflin's star power.


Not brand new news, but the impressive part of the Season 4 pickup is that there's 24 episodes. Most shows are going to 22 max, if they even get that, though there are exceptions ("The O.C." was 26 hour-long eps in 2003; "That 70s Show" routinely went 24-26).

So with four hour-long doses of Dunder-Mifflin, that's really like having 28 episodes. This year, with the supersizing (an extra 1/3 show) of six episodes, plus the two one-hour stints ("Benihana Christmas" and the finale), Season 3 has extended itself to 27 episodes from what would have been 23 (or 24 if you count "Benihana" as a two-parter).
To put that 28-episode order for 2007-08 in perspective, think of how much the show grew in its first 28 episodes, i.e. its first two seasons. We'll get that chance again in one calendar year.

As for total episodes compared with this year, though, it won't be much different. The benefit is that we'll all know in advance that there's four specials and 24 in total. Now, all they have to do is maintain ratings with the deadweights that "Scrubs" has become and "30 Rock" was this year. Not to mention that "My Name Is Earl" isn't reminding advertisers of "Friends."

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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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If the point of yesterday's supersized episode was to get people talking, well, it sure worked. Everything gets overshadowed by Pam finally regaining some of that courage Michael wished for her last week.
Is it out of character? Slightly, in that it definitely pushes a plot point, but then again, last year's beloved season finale was out of character for Jim -- taking the initiative and risking failure, not once but twice. The Pam we saw right before Jim kisses her is the Pam that doesn't know how to cut through the cobwebs that prevent her and Jim from getting together.

This year, those obstacles have added a new element, the one that prevents them from being even buddies. It's a rather new development, I think -- they seemed to be doing fine before the Roy attack, although there was at least some shift when Jim saw Pam leave Phyllis' wedding with Roy.
That's apparently Pam's breaking point, and seen from that angle, it's not so out of the ordinary.

Also, at this point, everyone's very used to the cameras. Pushing a plot point may be a writing tool, but it's also used extensively by people in reality shows of every kind. Pam may be borrowing from "The Real World" in creating a confrontation, even if it's not a conscious decision.

I'll have more when I re-watch the episode, because I only saw it very late last night.

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I'm absurdly late, I know. But with a couple of obvious flawed moments, it's the most-compelling reason yet for why "The Office" could and should be an hour-long show.
Here's why...
1. It's got hope, despair, discomfort, laughs, pranks, new realizations and stunningly oblivious behavior -- and that's just from the big four of Michael, Jim, Pam and Dwight. Sure, there's a lot more of the same from Meredith and Kelly, but, for instance, we learn about Angela's doll-sized wardrobe, something that at once seems ridiculous and exactly at home with the dour accountant. Phyllis is a clear, unadulterated victim, but someone who can bridge the "Office" divide, being friends with Pam and helping Karen decide what Jim will get to take off of her.

2. Creed. He doesn't think exposing oneself is a problem, he pays to use the women's bathroom, and yet somehow holds down a job.

3. Ryan is, honestly, a jerk -- playing for Karen even when he knows Jim is at least "hooking up" with her -- and denying his relationship with Kelly. But the balance, as it was in "Business School" and "The Fire," is seen when he's called on it, first by Jim brushing him off and then by Kevin's giggling at Ryan's proclaimed "not in an office relationship."

4. Toby, who learns a bit, at least, in the women's bathroom scenes to just go with the flow. No pun intended, if you find one there.

5. Pam's courage, as always is in small, private moments or in helping Michael through struggles that bear some similarity to her own, unsolved woes. Here, she stands up to Karen in a surrogate way through her counseling of Michael.

6. Any time Michael deals with the ladies, it's going to be a minefield. When the whole episode is build around that, it's hard to mess up.

What were the problems here? There have to be a couple, or else it might surpass "Office Olympics" as my pick for the most-quintessential episode.

1. As funny as it was (and not a bad cringe-worthy as some of this season has been), it was a hugely dirty episode. That leads us to the Michael imitating the flasher bit. While he's a caricature and does many things that would get him fired, lead to lawsuits, etc., this one seemed to dismiss his being a decent human being and having a heart. Laughing at the fact that Phyllis, and not the hot ones, were flashed, and yelling at Toby seem within his character. Quite frankly, at a real office, you might get a couple jokes about who was flashed, but just not in the open or so soon after.
But Michael Scott does not often mock things. Even when Dwight delves into fantasy land, he's more likely to get annoyed or insult. Mocking anyone, even Phyllis, intentionally is not him. Laughing inappropriately, however is.

2. The lack of a confessional for Karen outside of the mall visit. With a supersized episode, there's got to be time to get some reaction to the unspoken battle she and Pam waged for Michael's ear.

Two episodes. All signs point to someone moving to corporate, Karen being back in some form, and Pam, this time figuratively, laying all the cards on the table. Echos of last year? If you mean big changes that revert to status quo by the seventh episode, I think you're on the right track.

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I wasn't a huge fan of this episode when I first watched it.
However...

Perhaps it was because I was three time zones away from home, I was tired, or because seeing the teaser of Jim being Dwight artificially raised expectations.
But my initial ambivalence wasn't because Michael was over the top or Creed made me sad. Rather, Michael was fairly constrained this week, organizing a good effort to fix the problem (showing management skills, for once), and that woman was a total jerk. And Creed is awesome, although I can't imagine them getting much more shocking than ruining a woman's life. That's what Creed is, though. To not like that is to miss the point.

I didn't care for the Andy subplot, and have to say I think his character isn't really worth much, even if they did make the effort to define his character. As it is, Meredith has practically been written out of the show, and Ryan, Stanley, Angela and Phyllis get big story lines one week and nothing the next.

But I watched it again Saturday with my cousins, and it came back to me. It felt like a real office, even if only for brief moments. Angela and Kelly squaring off is a wonderful pairing, and Oscar got some time for his understated, but effective style. And the no JAM was fine, because there was no time for that.

The standout thing with this episode is the dealing with a real, or sort of real, crisis such a company could face. They do tag on the unrelated imitations at the front and end, but generally, it's a paper company actually conducting some business. Some of that every so often helps justify the documentary approach to shooting.

Quick note: The Scranton Times is actually the Times-Tribune. Don't know if there was a reason to change the name, but I'm betting the paper doesn't mind the free publicity.

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"The Office" ladies are hot -- Jenna Fischer repeats on People's most-beautiful list and Rashida Jones makes it.

The show, and more specifically, NBC, is not. Ratings for Thursday are the worst since the modern era of ratings (about 20 years ago), and Alec Baldwin may want out of "30 Rock," whose few viewers are likely watching his greatness.

"The Office" is safe for now, having been renewed. And it wins in having affluent demographics and some of the best bounces from the revised Nielsen system, TiVo/DVR, and iTunes sales. But at some point, it may have to take a leap, ratings-wise.
Can that happen with the current format? Possibly. But if not, we may see a forced JAM relationship, or a dumbing-down of the clever dumbness on display.

I don't think that last possibility is likely. But ratings had better not go down next year, or AWTWFM may be writing a eulogy.

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It's been mentioned that this was the Season 3 equivalent of "Office Olympics," that charming, heartwarming and multiple-plot-advancing episode that introduced Flonkerton, PamPong and Carol, codename Remax.

It's a relevant comparison, but unfair...

It's an unfair comparison only because "Office Olympics," along with "The Dundies," is perhaps the quintessential "Office" episode. It has JAM, Michael being sympathetic, afraid of being alone yet both rejecting and inviting, Michael's struggles with women, Dwight's pathetic sidekick gig, equal time for all the other office workers, a chill between Angela and Pam, Kevin being a goof, and a day where nothing really happens, yet plenty does.

"Safety Training" falls short because no one edited Darryl and Michael. Their conversations are interminable, circular and not nearly as funny as they should be for the airtime they take up. Now, I remain a Darryl fan. It's the editing that short-circuits the show a bit. Although, with the memory of Michael destroying half the warehouse with the heavy equipment in "Boys and Girls," Darryl's anger is understandable.

So there's that little problem...and not knowing what to do with Andy. A lot of these points are also made here, by the way. The Andy thing doesn't bother me much, but if Karen and Angela, not to mention Meredith and Phyillis, are going to get little-to-no face time, then having him around isn't worth it.

But there's a lot to like. The return of Patrice O'Neal (from waaay back in Season 1's "Basketball," and Season 2's "Boys and Girls," and also T-Bone in S01, E02 of "Arrested Development") was very welcome, especially since he and Darryl actually seem to be friends, unlike the times this year when Roy was portrayed unconvincingly as Darryl's No. 2. Madge, or Pudge, or Andy Capp, is also a great deadpan that makes you forget how much of a stereotype her character is. She's also an "AD" vet -- the woman at "Motherboy XXX" who asks if George Michael is an orphan.

Jim and Pam are at their best as pranksters, or more so, as ralliers. They bring out the fun in Toby, the mischief in Phyillis, utilize the silliness of Kelly for good, the tentative camraderie in Oscar, the fun-loving noncreep in Kevin, and the enjoyable creep in Creed. This dynamic duo, unfortunately, make Karen feel uncomfortable time and time again. Also, broke, since she loses every single bet.

The betting really shows the human side of the office, and finally gives us a break from the melodrama that was bringing this show to "OC" territory, just with less hot people. Jim and Pam, at least superficially, made fixes to the rift made clear last week caused by this.

There's only a couple episodes left. There's been a lot of movement this season, but it's almost been negated by the returns of Jim and Andy, the stability of Jim and Karen, and the continuous troubles of Michael and Jan. What this episode succeeds in doing, perhaps not as well as "Office Olympics," but well enough, is remind us of the core of "The Office": That every office, in some way, is ordinary, mundane and a place where workers must find outlets to cope (betting, faking suicides, etc.) with the terminal drudgery that is the workplace.

While still being funny, of course.

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A little bit of a darker episode, sans Michael's very entertaining subplot. The use of Darryl and Toby always brightens up an episode.
The darker episodes keep the show grounded in reality, but unlike in the British counterpart, don't make it better. If the British "Office" was about the despair and futility of the office, then the American version is about the little moments of hope within that structure.

JAM-wreck

Enough with that. Pam and Jim take center stage, obviously, as they each question a lot of assumptions. Namely, Jim's relationship with Dwight and Pam, Pam's idea that she was progressing with her life, and the idea that somehow the two of them are OK.
Let's face it, JAM hasn't been right since "The Secret," which was more than a year ago. But after the initial responses of Pam trying to accommodate Jim's impossible crush and Jim's smart, if meek, decision to leave, it's degenerated into a hurtful, harmful relationship that leaves both of them taciturn, paranoid, reacting to their own (often incorrect) perceptions and without any communication skills. Yes, they weren't always the best verbally, but they had an understanding and ability to read each other. That's gone.

To root for them is to root against either of them doing something with their lives, at this stage. That's not to say their door is closed, but quite frankly, Pam is single for a reason, and Jim would be a fool to rid himself of Karen, who prevents him from being a near shut-in a la Pam.

When that changes, they'll change.

The rest of the cast, for the moments they got, did an excellent job. Angela has become more well-rounded than perhaps even the writers thought possible, and all the credit should go to Angela Kinsey and the chemistry her and Rainn Wilson have. Plus, she's the hottest uptight religious girl ever (no Ann from "AD," that's for sure).

The JAM thing drags on, at times, but it's fine as long as the rest of the show runs at its wacky, manic pace. The other relationships (the Ryan and Kelly thing -- wow, poor Toby) provide a nice counterweight. And while Jan isn't completely believable in her eccentricities, she manages to sell the genuine conflicted attraction to Michael, who, of course, sells the notion that he's a 10-year-old boy in his thinking.

Good stuff, if a little overplayed. Season's almost over, and maybe Rashida Jones' time. Interesting few weeks ahead.

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The original summer series -- 2 minutes at a time -- ends with a surprise discovery as to the missing money.
The highlight here, and maybe of the 10 episodes, is Dwight in top form, with references to Discover's cash-back program and telling Angela she could be like the people shot by military firing squads. Not to mention not being able to handle the truth.
The 20 minutes of webisodes is nearly a full episode, but doesn't play out like one because of the quick recapping involved and the intense focus on the three accountants. The rewatchability of the webisodes is pretty low, too. But it's still a novel experiment that's fairly funny and tides over people until the DVD release next week and the season premiere soon after that.

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The search leads to Michael's office, where we discover even more of Michael's toys and odd vanities (the framed notice of owning a knockoff watch) and see some familiar gadgets (the train whistle from "Take Your Daughter To Work Day").
Angela pays Michael's electrical bill, discovers the many trips to the joke shop, and doesn't get the "not it" game of who is stuck confronting him.
A good, solid lead-in to the finale next week, just one week before Season 3 starts.

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In a night when almost no one looked good at an awards show, Jenna Fischer was gorgeous. But almost as important, it's nice to see how tightknit this cast truly appears to be.
Lots of "Office" Emmy excitement at OfficeTally.

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The one award the show truly deserved tonight. The writing awards are a toss-up, dependent more on picking the right episode to submit rather than the season-long quality. On Best Comedy, while it's so damn hard picking against "Scrubs," just getting nominated for once might be enough for that brilliant work. "Scrubs," actually, may have been the better show by a hair this season, but it's riffing off its own established tradition, albeit a widely inventive and quirky one.

"The Office" went from lesser ripoff to wild beast almost instantly, becoming the subtle, human, touching "reality show" no reality show's been able to pull off, featuring the love story that men could actually watch, and the show with the best use of an ensemble cast in an era where casts are ballooning like Americans' waistlines.

But sadly, there's no real crime in Steve Carell not winning, although it would have been deserved and a treat. He's an integral piece to a fine show. "Monk," for as much fun as it is, is a formulaic show that endlessly repeats itself despite putting out about half the episodes of a broadcast network sitcom. The other actors aren't terribly gifted, the cinematography is rote, and the plots are ordinary and often uninspired outside of the quirks of Monk and how those shape his world.
But therein lies the genius of Monk and of "Monk." Tony Shalhoub put this show on his back long ago and made it into a force in pop culture rather than just a forgotten oddity for people with way too much time on their hands. No one, repeat, no one, could have done what he's done with the role. No one could have turned a 6-episode cancellation series into a must-watch summer treat.

Steve Carell? "The Office" took off when Jim, Pam and Dwight became the focus, and the supporting cast revolved around them and their relationship with Michael rather than the show being about Carell's character and him interacting with others. This is not to knock Carell, who did his own Shalhoub-like job with "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Rather, Carell is like the crackerjack baseball closer who brings it home in his own, brilliant and inimitable style. But the fact remains that he comes in only when the groundwork has already been set. Best Lead Actor does not reward that guy.

As for "Arrested Development," it slipped from a A+, in-the-vault show to a B+/A- this year, with the slip in writing (as most left before Season 3) evident even in the A+ level episodes 1 and 2 of the season. Submitting the series finale, a rushed, blurry mirror image of the series premiere, as the Emmy nominee in best writing essentially ruled out them winning that award for the third year running. Supporting Actor nominee Will Arnett should have been nominated in seasons 1 and 2 when he had a chance. Jeremy Piven, inexplicably, is like the Perfect Storm right now -- you see him coming, you can't stop him. Pretty good for the guy who was the unconvincingly gay clothes salesman in "Rush Hour."

Other quick thoughts:
Alan Alda did, actually, deserve that Emmy. You saw a presidential candidate, a thoughtful, competent one. That alone deserves applause. But moreover, you forgot, ever so briefly, that he was Hawkeye Pierce, only one of the 10 most imprinted television characters of the past 30 years.
The rest of the awards -- and the nominees competing -- were pretty dreadful. That's not a suprise. That's also why I didn't watch any of the show.

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This episode was a doozy of a character analysis, namely the relationship of the accounting department at Dunder-Mifflin -- Angela, Kevin and Oscar. Angela is the boss, the mean one who doesn't want to be portrayed as such. Kevin is the kid. Oscar tries to mediate everything, almost as if he's Jerry Seinfeld in "The Opposite," always even-Steven. It makes more sense than ever now that Oscar was actually welcoming, at first, to Michael's bizarre interpretation of conflict resolution through mediation.

But Angela's not mean, just demanding. Poor Kevin. Just trying to have some fun, and nobody's buying. And oh yeah, they are about to search the collection of knick-knacks that is Michael's office.

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Nothing much exciting here, just a recap of the whole missing money thing, a couple false alarms, and the realization that they need to ask Michael about the money. After a couple dynamite webisodes, this one is mostly a transition.

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The accounting crew is at a standstill in this week's episode, as they are running of people to question. Angela overdefends Dwight, getting quizzical looks from Kevin and Oscar, and a hilarious battle ensues over writing a staff memo asking for the culprit to come forward anonymously. The miniseries has really hit its stride the last couple of weeks.
Plus, I really want to buy a Yaris everytime I see the ad.

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Ed Helms, from "The Daily Show," and Chip Esten, who played one of the Dunder-Mifflin executives (the Stamford boss) on the Valentine's Day episode, will be joining the cast of "The Office." Helms will portray a new employee.

All this seems to confirm the months-long rumor (even John Krasinski mentioned it in passing on an interview) that Jim actually takes the transfer to Stamford. Ed Helms replaces him, and Chip Esten is involved as Jim's boss and perhaps a confidante or third party that Jim needs to discuss his Pam problem with. It would also mirror somewhat the BBC version, I believe.
This is especially bolstered by the news that Ed Helms is only on for 10 episodes, which would seem to mean Jim comes back. Even if all this was accurate, there's still a huge deal of cool things that can be done with the plots and characters.

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This week, it's "Someone in the Warehouse," the group that gets the least facetime on the show. Speaking of less facetime, it's seems the office has added more people to the 29 or so they already have. Jenna Fischer talks about it here.

Anyways, this week is great. Kevin is an awesome character, and a super-underlying side plot -- Angela's liking of Roy ("The Fire" who-would-you-do episode) -- finally gets explored. Best webisode yet.
Speaking of the best (segue!), on Best Week Ever, the actors who play Kevin and Angela take you through office etiquette.
Not uproariously funny, just BWE-funny -- you'll watch because it's not bad and you're just sitting around any way.

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The fourth installment, "Stanley," is online.
The webisodes are very uneven, particularly this one, but not bad for something essentially slapped together during regular filming. Plus, it's nice to stay in touch with the characters during the summer hiatus.

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The third two-minute installment is up at nbc.com/The_Office. You just have to view some ad first.
This one focuses on the hilarious alcohol-addicted Meredith, who gets more lines in two minutes than she seemingly got in the last six or seven episodes of last season.
In other good "Office" tidbits, NBC wants to know where the Dwight Schrute bobblehead has been, and Dwight himself wonders what would happen if Battlestar Galactica found itself on the "Lost" island.

They are back shooting Season 3, by the way.

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Interesting concept. Ten 2-minute episodes, one each Thursday. The first two are up. They aren't hilarious, but it's good to see the minor characters getting more airtime.

The releasing of new videos on Thursday is also good because the show has moved to that night in the fall. Hopefully, it'll get people in the habit of "The Office" on Thursdays.

EDIT: To answer Bum's question, I haven't really watched the British version. I can understand why those fans might not like this "Office," but from everything I can tell and have heard/read, Season 2 of the U.S. brand is definitely its own wonderful animal. Plus, the Brit one was like, 12 episodes? There's only so much you can cover in that timespan.

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Initial thoughts

I love the JAM thing as much as anyone. Seriously, it's one of the more genuine relationships portrayed on screen. And the season finale is probably the most complete episode of the show. But I'm really surprised that in all this happiness over their moments in the season finale, nobody seems to mind what happened.

You just can't kiss the engaged girl without reprecussions.
(EDIT: Big hint, Mike, I want your comment on this)
It just can't happen. There's gotta be some fallout. I mean, she sent out Save-The-Dates. The cost of the stamps alone.
Actually, I found one angle I hadn't thought of on one of the sites. A commenter noticed that it was a school night, as Toby said, so they all had to go to work the next day. Sounds fun.
Northern Attack has not yet recapped, so I'm hoping he addresses the issue. Sorry to be a downer, I'm always thinking big picture.

Anyways, on a less serious note...
I typed in "Casino Night" on Google News, and here are some real casino nights that have been taking place in the real world:

Creek Nation, Oklahoma
Chamber of Commerce, Virginia
U of New Hampshire charity night
U of Oklahoma student casino night
LA Lakers casino night, where Paris Hilton showed up

Also, only peripherally related, as not funny as "American Dad" often is, they had one of the best quotes I've ever seen:
"It's like Steve is America and you're "Arrested Development." It doesn't mean you're bad, it just means he's not interested in you." - Fran, explaining her son's disinterest in his father.

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Wow. Wow. Drama, comedy, poker, Creed stealing shit, and Pam wearing something not striped for the first time ever. Plus, a cliff-hanger ending.

Supersized episodes can be disasters, but they also bring out the best in a show that typically has to cut funny content. For "The Office," it means letting every character get more face time, more dialogue than usual. Kevin and Creed, obviously, are the biggest beneficiaries here, along with Angela.
Kudos to Steve Carell on a well-written episode, too. It played out very much like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," in that it was a lot of real inappropriateness that had a human side to it. Makes you wonder why so few people are able to pull it off when seen so effortlessly here.

Couple observations:
1. Good job getting a casino episode in before the poker boom collapses. It's a setting that is perfect for a large ensemble cast.
2. Nice job bringing back the guy in the wheelchair who owns the property or whatever. He's great in his utter shock at anything Michael Scott says.
3. Poor Dwight does not have the hair coverage that his bobblehead does. Nor the mind powers to shake it with his thoughts. But he can raise and lower his cholesterol at will.
4. The bit with Kelly talking about Kobe Bryant. Wow. So great, and a big social statement, too. As I've said before, though maybe not here, it astounded me how many girls I knew freely admitted they thought he committed that crime, but it didn't change their view of him. Here, however, it's simply funny.
5. Jim and Ryan are hanging out a lot more, as has been hinted at in other episodes. Makes sense, and not just because the two actors went to high school together.
6. The Jim and Pam thing better not turn "The Office" into a chick-flick show. I don't think it will, and they are the two best-written characters played by the two best performers, so things should be OK.
7. I think they wanted the documentary crew to be shocked by Jim's "I'm in love with you" line, because all that camera shaking on the next shot made me feel like I was watching "The Bourne Supremacy" chase scenes. Again, not a bad thing, just another little detail that adds to the show.

Much, much better show than last week, which as necessary as it was to move plot points forward, seemed to have little or no effect on this week's episode (other than the Jim transfer). The episode was great even without the Jim-Pam stuff, which was really superb. I only say that because all the spoilers, of which I read a couple accidentally, involved them. So, if you knew basically what would happen there, you still had 25 minutes or so of excellent comedy to look forward to watching.

Fun stuff, this season. Especially with "Arrested Development" ending, it was nice to adopt a new show.

More thoughts on the episode

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Tough episode to get behind, in my opinion. There's virtually no likeable character in this episode, and the "Michael screws up until his realization in the final minutes" bit has been done about 8 times now. ("AD" always had Michael, or at least George-Michael to be likeable, by the way) It seemed to flash back to the Season 1 episodes, which were funny but not quite in sync.
Not to say there wasn't a lot of funny stuff. That guy they got to play Creed is amazing. Oscar going nuts about the creepy jazz babies was good, too.

"It's kitsch. It's the opposite of art. It destroys art. It destroys souls. This is so much more offensive to me than hardcore porno. I'm talking about (Michael cuts him off)"

And the solution? Oscar wears the poster on a T-shirt.

One of the more clever jokes, oddly enough, is the title of the episode. Tells you what the show is about and the outcome that won't really be happening.
Season finale next week is written by Steve Carell. Not sure what to expect, although I'm optimistic.

EDIT (05/07/06): Northern Attack has a much more thorough recap, and he liked the episode a lot more.
Also, a legal blog found something to like in the episode. Very interesting.

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Once I jump on a bandwagon, I never let you hear the end of it. Last week's episode was excellent, although I did not get to watch it until I got back from my road trip (by the way, don't plan road trips when gas is $3 a gallon -- it made me want to cry with every look at the cost).
Kevin's creepiness is vastly underrated, and they did a nice job to get every cast member (except Meredith, I think) a real chance for dialogue and interaction.

Anyways, Jenna Fischer did a podcast that Northern Attack (on the right-hand sidebar) is hosting because of bandwith issues. There's a LOT of filler (first five minutes) before she actually calls in, and the quality of podcasts are not always incredible, but it's about as good as a radio show. There's a small, small spoiler on "Blades of Glory," too.
Worth a listen in that it's a low-key, casual interview and on a level you never used to see celebrities do. In a way, it shows how much the cast has invested themselves in the show.

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Only a few episodes left, and you can see a rather lengthy preview here.
Thanks to NorthernAttack.com, as I learned of this from them.

If you don't want a spoiler, take simply this: Dwight dons the volunteer deputy outfit. It's hot. Pam, however, still dresses like a nun, as far as I could tell. Oh well.

And in case you don't know, "Arrested Development" is as officially dead as it'll get. About a month ago, Mitchell Hurwitz, the creator, decided to pack it in, citing the immense effort to deliver the quality necessary, among other things. Can't blame him. The third season was uneven, but brilliance often is. Better to go out now and hope the DVD is packed with extras.

I'll be traveling this weekend, so might not have much.

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NBC.com has introduced the product by popular (web-based) demand. The bobblehead of Dwight Schrute, seen on the V-Day episode of "The Office," is going to be available.

It's a hilarious idea, but you may be crossing an obsession line if you actually buy it. I don't know.

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On NBC.com, you can catch "The Office's" April Fools-timed parodies of the familiar "The More You Know" campaign. The obvious rip-off of the 10-years-old Conan tradition is forgiven because the ConeZone denizen is a huge fan of the show.

Thanks to Bum for commenting on this on my earlier ode to "The Office." I had viewed the parodies yesterday, but inexplicably didn't post about them until he reminded me.

Also, they are the only batch of "Office"-related video that you can view on a Mac. The rest (including outtakes and deleted scenes) require Windows and IE. Bastards.

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