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Last night’s episode of The Office was the funniest since I’ve started writing these recaps. Granted, that’s only three episodes. But while it wasn’t a classic, it was pretty funny, and unlike last week, capitalized pretty well on the chemistry on having the whole cast together (minus a couple people) outside Dunder Mifflin.
So instead of a focus on any character or few characters in particular, it was very much an ensemble piece, with lots of little subplots and diversions going on at any one time. The premise is that Gabe and Erin are hosting a Glee party at his place. Seems pretty mundane, but when Michael finds out a few people feel obligated to go because it’s “the boss’ party” he gets upset about people perceiving Gabe as above him in the pecking order. It’s silly of course, people can have more than one boss, but nothing is too trifling for Michael to have a fit about. So now add him to the list of people who don’t like Gabe very much, featuring Andy and nobody else.
The viewing of Glee was mostly background, although there were a few good moments that sprang from it. People who hadn’t seen it before asked silly questions (“Which one is glee?”) and people who had (Kelly, mostly) both criticized its inconsistent scripting and poked fun at some of its cheaper stunts (“They did ‘Blinded by the Light’ with an actual blind guy!”). There’s also some humor that hits home on how a group of people watch TV together; Oscar’s preoccupied with spotting actors he recognizes from other shows, Jim messes up the DVR when he checks the scores during a commercial, and Michael acts out his frustrations by turning up the volume too loud and then watching in another room.
And he isn’t done with his protesting, going so far to unplug the cable to disrupt the party, but when Erin finds out he did it, Michael learns how she sees him as something of a father figure. There’s a partly weird, partly touching moment where they act out a father-daughter relationship. Meanwhile, Andy still isn’t over his feelings for Erin. He tries to get Phyllis to find out if she’s consummated her relationship (a line of questioning to which she doesn’t react well) and then gets sick after eating too much of a seahorse powder Gabe has with all his stuff from his year abroad in Japan.
But what’s going on with the other main characters? Pam is getting exhausted from Cecelia “reverse cycling”, sleeping during the day and being awake at night. After Dwight gets annoyed with the baby’s crying, he takes her in his arms and Pam is shocked to discover that she’s out like a light. Angela wants him to fulfill his contractual obligation to sleep with her, but Pam wants the reverse cycling to end, so she persuades him to keep holding the baby by making Jim feed him pizza and beer. It’s a rare moment of Dwight having power over his “worst enemy”, and it’s made further awkward when Kevin climbs under the sheets during the feeding. “I wanted to eat a Pig in a Blanket… in a blanket.”
It’s all fairly low impact stuff, but this show can get away with it when it’s enjoyable, and this episode mostly was. Michael’s still acting out in irrational and exceptionally childish ways, but it doesn’t grind things to a halt, and the pace is pretty brisk as a lot of characters get moments to be funny. I’m getting kind of tired of Andy’s continued depression over Erin’s new relationship, and hope something gives one way or another soon. But besides that, there wasn’t much to dislike about this episode.