Turn off the Lights

The Office – The Chump

I’m hesitant to say it, and even as I type these words, I’m looking around for the nearest wooden apparatus to knock on it, but I’m just going to say it, jinx’s be damned: “The Office” is back.  There, I said it.  Even though there’s a slew of former “Office” fans who find Season 6 of the show to be the bane of their existence, I’ve found it to be entertaining but uneven.  For every good episode, there’s a few lackluster ones.  I don’t have a problem with “The Office” continuing, as long as they know when to call it quits.  From the cold open to the last few minutes, I found myself laughing at least a few times every minute, something that I haven’t done with “The Office” for awhile.  Normally, I just sit and watch, chuckle a few times, maybe unleash one giant belly laugh reserved for truly funny moments.  “The Chump” was different.  Every character seemed to have some great moments, and the story, despite feeling a bit dull at points, was filled with more than enough funny moments from everybody.

Michael’s new flame, Donna (Amy Pietz continues her role, even if she’s only in the episode for a few moments), reveals to Michael that she is married, yet Michael doesn’t seem to care too much.  In fact, he seems more cheerful than ever.  As the office attempts to figure out why he’s not distraught over the news, they learn that he’s still seeing her, which irks many of them.  Despite Michael bringing up a good point about why Dwight and Stanley are allowed to get away with infidelities but not him, the entire office shuns Michael and sees him as a home wrecker.  Andy, as the victim of an unfaithful wife, tells Michael that he should go and visit Donna’s husband to see if there’s anything wrong with him that would make Donna want to cheat on him.  After all, Michael is justifying his status as “the mistress” by claiming that Donna’s husband must be an awful guy.  For the next twenty minutes, we’re greeted to a slew of hilarious quotes, a few dull scenes and storylines, but in the grand scheme of things, the episode is great. 

It was nice to see more of Toby and Creed.  These two characters have the misfortune of being placed in the center of dozens of other characters who get more lines and screen-time dedicated to them.  It’s unfortunate, because Creed delivers the best lines of every single episode, while Toby’s sad-sack attitude gets more and more hilarious with time.  The writers made the mistake of pushing these characters to the back and giving them barely any lines.  Instead, most of us had to suffer from horrible Meredith plots, which usually either consist of her getting naked (gross) or her getting obnoxiously drunk (lame).  The supporting cast on “The Office” is still one of the best on TV (Stanley, Kevin, Oscar, Daryll and Gabe all provide some consistently funny lines), but it would be even better if they injected a little dose of Creed and Toby into the mix.  Hearing Creed yell, “He don’t give an F about nothing!” was the highlight of my night, and hopefully we see more of Creed in the future.

The cold open was also superb.  As of late, I’ve been more interested in “Parks and Recreation” and the characters on that show.  While “The Office” can sometimes be unfunny and rehash old plots (that’s to be expected over time), “Parks” is nothing like the show it was spawned from.  It may take place in an office and use a mockumentary format, but the characters are more rich and complex in “Parks.”  Sure, there may be more stunt-casting and more goofiness, but “The Office” stopped being a realistic show a long time ago.  However, the cold open in “The Chump” reminded me of what made the show so funny.  Whether it was Michael growing increasingly frustrated with Toby’s stupid radon testing lecture or Dwight’s in-depth description of what he’d do if he had Hitler, Bin Laden and Toby in a room with one gun and two bullets, the opening scene showed every character getting involved and providing some major laughs (I personally enjoyed Michael saying he would shoot Toby in the head with both bullets.. apparently, Toby ranks higher on the list of danger than Hitler and Bin Laden, and seeing the rest of the office’s uncomfortable reaction to this proclamation made it that much funnier).

I’ve already heard through the grapevine that people found this episode to be dumb, representative of everything people hate about later seasons of “The Office” and filled with characters acting as stupid as a bag of rocks.  While I would agree with these statements if they were directed at episodes earlier this season, such as “Mafia,” which showed Michael, Andy and Dwight acting more like a group of eleven year olds than adults who work at a paper company.  However, “The Chump” was much funnier.  Dwight was filled with plenty of one-liners this week, telling the camera crew he would do “legal ju-jitsu” on Angela, or talking about how he has 30,000 dollars but doesn’t want to dig past “a certain someone to get it.”  He also bashed himself in the unmentionables about ten times, and although this could be seen as too much of a sight gag for a show like “The Office” that runs off of subtler humor than that, I found it to be great.  Only Dwight K. Schrute could cook up a stunt like that.  Michael was also funnier than usual today.  He traded in his childish humor for some smarter, well-thought up jokes.  For instance, hearing him tell the office that he wanted to have a ten minute moment of silence for Michael Jackson, or when he called Stanley, “Morgan Freeman Narrating Everything.”  It’s lines like that that make “The Office” stand out from other shows.
Right now, “Parks and Recreation” is giving “The Office” a run for its money.  At one point in time, “The Office” was considered the best comedy on television.  However, as time does to all great things, it eroded and grew stale and quickly lost its appeal.  “30 Rock” invaded the Emmys and “Modern Family” is quickly gaining momentum.  Even “Parks,” a show once thought to be an “Office” rip-off, found its footing and quickly set itself apart.  “The Office” soon fell to the background, and as its ratings began to drop, so did peoples tolerance with the show.  Luckily, the show has been bouncing back.  Tonight’s episode was a great continuation of the Michael/Donna relationship, and it also seemed to set up the events for what should be an interesting and eventful season finale.  Everybody find the nearest wooden object and knock on it three times for good luck, because “The Office” appears to finally be back.


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