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Friday, October 8, 2010

The Office- “Andy’s Play”

If you had “he gets cast in a touring production and quits his job” in your How Will Michael Leave the Office Office Pool, you should probably reconsider, based on the excellent capper to tonight’s episode, in which Michael performs a Law & Order episode (including the voiceover) as a one-man show. I don’t think it was a real script, but I could definitely see one of L&Os wise-guy cops standing over the corpse of a victim of auto-erotic asphyxiation and declaring “everyone’s tightening their belts in this economy.”

Unlike Michael, Andy Bernard has demonstrated some real talents, only no one at Dunder-Mifflin ever seemed to notice or care. I didn’t really buy the idea that he’d be able to guilt trip the entire branch into attending the play, but these sorts of contrivances are the price you pay in the sitcom game.

Overall this was a rather low-key episode, with no big guffaws, unless you laughed while I cringed at Andy’s cell-phone going off during his scene in the play. I confess I may have turned back to the baseball playoffs for a brief moment during that scene. Maybe my biggest laugh came from Creed excitedly calling in his review like some old-time newshound breaking a story. Also enjoyed Dwight’s assessment of Sweeny Todd: “All that music got in the way of some fine murders” and Darryl’s injunction to Michael before the play started: “If we don’t listen to the overture we won’t recognize the musical themes when they recur.”

What do you think of the Andy-Erin flirtation? I wonder if the show has the guts to go to much darker places than it did with the more suitable pair of Pam and Jim. Erin’s lack of intelligence is really getting outrageous (I laughed like hell when she threw out her disposable camera last week, but it is pretty far-fetched that someone that dumb could survive), and no amount of sentimentality on Andy’s part can gloss over that forever. Would they try to wring humor out of him pursuing such an obviously unsuitable partner?

There was a nice Michael moment when he consoles Andy after the play, by insisting that he’s not a nice person and wouldn’t compliment Andy’s performance if he didn’t mean it. The point about not being nice is proven by his booing the lead actor, who happens to be Darryl’s plumber. Jim and Pam got one decent joke tonight: Jim’s comparison of moving the sleeping baby without waking her to “The Hurt Locker”. Modern Family gets a lot of humor out of parenting, why can’t The Office?

The Office has a definite lived-in quality to it these days. It’s probably past it’s prime, and if continues long past Michael Scott’s departure it will descend into sitcom-senescence pretty quickly, but for now it’s perfectly enjoyable comfort food.

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