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Within five minutes of last night’s new Office episode, Michael Scott was having a very unusual dinner with Erin, Andy’s new girlfriend. He sat there and stared at her dumbfounded, trying to mask his discomfort at having to sit there and listen to her ramble on breathlessly about her favorite months, favorite age, favorite birthdays and other pointless topics. As much as it pains me to say this, I felt like Michael Scott throughout most of this episode: uncomfortable, confused and impatient. I recommend not watching old seasons of The Office before watching a new episode because comparisons between the two will happen, and the old seasons will always win.
Tonight’s episode continued with the increased focus on Andy and Erin; with Jim and Pam married with children and Dwight and Angela pursuing other love interests, Andy and Erin have taken over as the official “Office Couple.” While I was interested in them at first, especially watching Andy’s pathetic yet hilarious attempts at flirting and asking her out, I feel as if they’re already beginning to grow stale. They’re undeniably cute and have great scenes with one another, but I feel as if we’ve already had six seasons of tension with Jim and Pam; starting over again from scratch with a new couple worries me a little. There were some great scenes with each character individually, particularly with Erin (I’m not sure if I laughed more at her hiding behind her hair because that used to be her “room,” or at her fast-paced, hyperactive rants to Michael while they were driving and dining. Either way, she’s slowly becoming more and more likable, especially since we were able to see a different side to her other than the goofy other half of Andy Bernard.
The supporting cast of “The Office” continues to prove that they’re growing funnier with each passing week. While I think it’s a shame that Creed and Toby have nearly disappeared behind the other characters (why does Creed get one line a week, yet Meredith is given entire scenes to work with? Creed brings the funny 110% of the time), Kevin, Oscar and new addition Gabe were all great this week. Gabe has been a character that was sort of drowned out by Kathy Bates’ star power; they were both introduced around the same time, yet Kathy’s character was given the limelight, while Gabe was shoved into the back burner. Fortunately, last night’s episode gave him a great chance to flex his acting chops. Gabe attempted to prove he wasn’t a pushover and that his presence in the office shouldn’t be under-estimated. This leads into the best part of the episode, which is where everybody in the office mocks his mannerisms and the specific phrases he chooses to use, including “Ciao!” when he leaves a room. Honestly, anybody who uses “Ciao” in casual conversation deserves to be mocked. It also gave Kevin a chance to use a different voice than his flat, monotonous drawl. In fact, I feel compelled to say the supporting characters did a better job this week than the main cast. Honestly, it was a bit painful to watch Pam attempt to do a Cookie Monster voice.
But I digress; The Office was off-air for nearly a month, so I should be a bit more grateful that we were given a new episode that didn’t completely crash and burn. However, I shouldn’t have spent those three weeks that the Office was on a break watching old episodes, because my brain immediately yearned to be stimulated by the humor that previous seasons brought. Last night’s episode elicited a few chuckles from me, but it didn’t get me excited the way it used to. Hopefully next week will bring the laughs more often than it did this week. I appreciate the character development and the focus on Erin, yet I want to see some more shenanigans from my favorite characters and much more focus on characters like Creed and Toby. In fact, I vote that in the near future, we get an episode with just Creed and Toby. Creed’s one-liners are great, but I’m certain a Creed episode would go down in the books as the episode that made everybody keel over in pain from laughing so hard.