Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beets Motel. Embassy Beets. Radish-Inn.

Jam stays at a romantic b&b with a quirky proprietor. Dwight practices for his Wookie recital. Jan spends Michael into the poorhouse. Michael becomes the Jim of the telemarketing world. Scrantonicity goes up in flames while Scrantonicity II rises from the ashes. And Stanley gets a mysterious call at home from a stranger.

Episode 404 - Money

Michael has serious money issues in this episode. Jan’s doing some redecorating back at the condo. Michael, being the proactive leader he is, starts a moonlighting career as a telemarketer selling diet pills. Michael is Mr. Popular at the new office and everyone loves him. He even mocks the boss, and Michael – now funny, charming and subversive – transforms, almost, into Jim.

The following morning, he dazzles Dunder Mifflin with his PowerPoint presentation and Ryan forces him to quit, or lose his DM job. We even get some confusing grammar lessons with Ryan saying he really wants Michael to be able to explain PowerPoint “to whomever,” setting the office abuzz with the proper usage of whomever. Does anyone really know this? I think Creed had it right when he states that it’s a word made up to screw with school kids. I’m still not sure I know when or how to use the word correctly.

We also learn that much like Pam's art show, no one from the office showed up to Kevin's new band - Scrantonicity II - as they rocked out the best Sting/Copeland/Summers covers in Northeast Pennsylvania. He pouts like a kid and, sadly, we don't feel nearly as sympathetic as we did when Pam's show went off with only Roy and Michael showing up.

Dwight answers his desk phone in German and we meet a new Dwight Schrute – the proprietor of Schrute Farms agrotourism b&b. Money problems or putting Angela behind him – we don’t know the reason for this new venture of Dwight’s, but it’s bound to be a success since Mose is on board as well! Jim and Pam immediately book a night with the intriguing Trip Advisor description and Mose greets them at the gate to the farm by running alongside them like a happy puppy as they drive up to the house.

Pam opts for the Irrigation Room. (How could she not?) We learn the farm is now wireless due to that rascal Mose hiding all the wires. They help make beet wine and Jim muses about how he imagined their first trip with slightly less manure while Mose flings some at Dwight…Those wacky kids. Dwight lulls Jam to sleep with some killer Harry Potter bedtime stories while Mose appears to be near-catatonic in his Jurassic Park jammies. Pam explores some crazy knocking, but finds it’s only Mose in the outhouse and asks the camera, “Oh my God, what century is this?!” Later, Jim responds to Dwight's wails and finds him rocking in his room clutching Angela's cherub figure he'd denied having. Homeboy needs to get over her!

Kelly uses Daryl to make Ryan jealous, but Daryl tells her to put her crazy in check after she pulls a psycho move where she throws a bunch of files on the ground. He puts her in check with a cool, “Slow down. Think it over.” Kelly ponders aloud, “Who says exactly what they’re thinking? What kind of game is that?” Daryl rocks.

Creed gives Michael some money tips on declaring bankruptcy which leads Michael to literally just…declare bankruptcy by yelling it out. It’s insanely unlikely, but funny as hell. Oscar offers legitimate help and we find Michael is equally – if not more – responsible for his money concerns with multiple magic sets and professional bass fishing equipment. But rather than face Jan’s scorn, Michael makes like a hobo and heads for the rails.

Andy recycles Garbage (the cat) and gives it to Angela. She’s won over and agrees to go out to dinner with him… “Nothing fancy or foreign. No bars, no patios, no vegetables. And no seafood.” How does a vegetarian survive with no veggies? And how did she and the beet farming, hunting, animal-indifferent Dwight ever find common ground? Love is a mystery.

After witnessing a melancholy rendition of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” on Dwight’s recorder, Jim and Pam leave a stellar Trip Advisor customer review of Schrute Farms. “Table making never seemed so possible. You will never want to leave your room. The architecture reminds one of a quaint Tuscan beet farm.” Of course, an actual listing exists for Schrute Farms on Trip Advisor. Have some fun with your own review!

Alas, it does little to lift his spirits, and he retreats to the stairwell to belt out a little Wookie rehearsal. Jim goes to his aid and offers a heartfelt confession of why he left for Stamford. Dwight reaches out for a hug, but Jim’s already gone…off to smooch Pam and ask her about dinner. We learn he really loves Italian food…a lot!

Jan chucks her keys at Oscar, apparently now a valet, and chases after Michael. We get an artsy shot of them sitting on the freight car – a train that’s going nowhere – while Jan, in a rare show of humanity, offers to help Michael through it. Happily for Michael, she agrees not to ditch her implants.

We’ve seen the first sign that Michael is on the road to recovery with that request!

Bonus: Check out the deleted scenes. My fave, Pam and Jim meet Mose.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

In your face, machines!

Dwight proves he is superior to a website. Andy’s barbershop triplet belts out some wicked Abba. Angela turns up the bitchy. Phyllis tries to master a little reverse psychology. Pam gets empathetic. Jim and Michael get in some bonding time. And Michael – oy vey – kidnaps a stoner pizza delivery guy.

Episode 403 - Launch Party

Elephant in the room…Michael’s kidnapping subplot was equally absurd to his rental cruise along scenic Lake Scranton last episode. Not stating anything new here to being happy that we’re almost back to 30 minute episodes. Too much filler…not enough killer with the hour-longs.

However, there was plenty of funny in the ep. 'DunMiff/sys' IM'ing Dwight was classic JAM prankery. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dwight’s binary f-you message to the computer actually equated to some sort of command.

Among the best interactions was with Phyllis trying to use her Googled tips on dealing with a difficult person on Angela. And it totally backfiring. Angela put fear into me with her biting description of cutlery utensils. Though what was up with the v-neck she was sporting? I’m betting they don’t sell that number at the American Girl Store.

Ryan’s lunch lanch launch party for the website was predictable, but Michael’s reading of the invitation to said party was not. He’s clearly familiar with technology to some degree – he’s a Wikipedia ninja and he knows how to play the 10 second clip of James Blunt tunes to nurse himself through a breakup. When Jim clues in Michael that it’s a chatroom/web party somewhere around – I’m guessing – Buttzville, NJ, along Route 80, you have to wonder when they’re going to make him seem less stupid again this season. However, the Dr. Seuss book for Ryan was a funny interlude.

However, despite the aforementioned lame kidnapping plot with the pizza guy, the outburst at the party when Ryan intros Michael and he announces that Dwight “beat your stupid computer,” then calls him an asshole, followed by Kelly slapping a slice of the round slice of garbage courtesy of Pizza by Alfredo onto the TV screen had me guffawing.

Andy wins a milimeter of props from Angela by invading some poor early-evening wedding, bar mitzvah or retirement party and stealing a swan ice sculpture for the re-imagined party that Angela had an hour to create. Though I wasn't a fan of the kidnapping subplot, it was great that Dwight said he knew the pizza guy cuz he stole hemp from the farm, and the kid said he knew Dwight as the farmer with the really bad weed. (What's Dwight doing growing hemp?)

Pam and Jim take it to the roof again, which was cute, but provided those moments that we probably should have seen from earlier on in their relationship, but we got cheated out of with the summer break. (I guess the documentary camera crew took a summer break too. By the way, when are they gonna be finished with the doc? They should have about 4 years worth of footage now. LOL)

In the most stunning show of musical talent since Scrantonicity rocked Phyllis & Bob Vance’s wedding, Andy gets and impromptu performance of Abba’s “Take a Chance on Me” together to attempt to woo Angela. It was as genuine a display of someone’s heart as we’ve seen on The Office in ages…or at least a brilliant ploy to get in someone’s pants as we’ve yet seen. (I heard that the other voices were credited as Michael and Dwight in the closed captioning. Brilliant if they actually got Steve and Rainn to do that – neither of whom were in the shot of the co-workers looking on.) Kelly’s heart looked like it was going to explode with glee at witnessing Andy’s performance.

Final note: Michael and Dwight sitting on top of Dwight’s car in a random parking lot in New York eating leftover sushi in the wee hours after the party while they imitated Ryan’s voice was great. Plus Dwight’s look when we got another homoerotic statement from Michael saying that Ryan was hot was great.

Bonus: Check out the deleted scenes on for Jim calling out Dwight's stubble. Dwight shoots back, "It's called being a man. You should try it some time." Even in pain, Dwight's still got it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sometimes you gotta ride the Bull.

Michael stupidly drives into a lake. Ryan’s up to some major douchebaggery. Phyllis is “kind of a bitch.” Toby’s bitter as hell. Dwangela may be over for good. Kevin and Andy join the Cult of Ryan. And Creed comes up with new uses for printer toner.

Episode 402 - Dunder-Mifflin Infinity

The Jam charade didn’t even last a full episode as Pam and Jim were caught in a kiss by the camera crew. After Toby sees Pam and Jim kiss, he sends a memo to the office about the company policy on PDAs and outs JAM. Michael’s “heart soars with the eagle’s nest” over the news they’re together.

Temp-turned-Vice President Ryan is pushing the company to go online. It’s actually long-overdue and probably the right move given their "under construction" site with a dancing Santa from 2002. But all Ryan brings to the table is business jargon and a $200 haircut. Sending Michael to get him water was both cold and deserved, though.

Michael sets out to win back customers who’ve left for big box retailers by wooing them the old fashioned way – with baskets of food. “Gift baskets are the essence of classiness.” I know I’ve made many a business decision thanks to flavored popcorn.

In the second incident (so far) of vehicular mayhem this season by Michael, he drove his rental car into Lake Scranton after blindly following the directions of the voice from the car’s GPS navigation system, ridiculously convinced it couldn’t be wrong since it was a computer. Dwight goes into rescue mode and wades around the car to pull Michael to safety out of all of three feet of water.

Back at the office, Ryan’s stopped in his tracks when Kelly springs the false news on him that she’s pregnant and she’s keeping the baby. Great silent talking head moment with Kelly shaking her head, followed by her squealing “We have a date” when he offers to talk about it over dinner. By the way, he flat out lied saying Karen had emailed to ask him out before, but we all know his shame of having revealed he e-asked her out to Jim.

Kevin and Andy get sucked into the Cult of Ryan and are amazed that Jim isn’t on board. Andy says that Ryan “smells like what Pierce Brosnan probably smells like.” They join together in their disapproval of Jim with Andy telling Jim that he needs “awesome lessons” for not drinking the Ryan Kool-Aid. “Later, Tuna.”

Creed steals the show again with minimal screen time but maximum funny. Realizing ageism is afoot, he dyes his hair black – with printer cartridge toner! – and starts dropping phrases like “Hey Bra,” “Later Skater,” and “Sometimes you gotta ride the Bull.”

The DWANGELA breakup saga continues with Dwight telling Angela over a dinner of cauliflower and noodles with a baked potato.
Angela: “I heard a joke today.”
Dwight: “Oh, that’s funny.”
Angela: “Yes, it is.”
Amazing that Angela wasn’t won over by the feral cat named Garbage that Dwight captured in the barn for her. At least the folks at Vance Refrigeration have an office mascot of their own now.

Michael impressively remembers his former client’s daughter’s food allergy – proof there’s some justification for his job. But after they crash in the lake - and goaded on by Dwight’s foul post-breakup mood - they march back to re-claim the gift basket from the lawyer’s office. In one of the series’ most cringe-worthy moments ever, Michael has a full-on hissy fit in the lobby. Though I loved the screams of, “Where are the turtles?!”

Kelly lets Ryan off the hook with the truth, which frees him to ask Pam out to dinner with this doozy: “Wear something nice.” Millions of women across North America wretched simultaneously. Pam shoots him down with the news that she and Jim are together and Jim gives him a wave and smirks to the cameras, “I guess he can’t get *any* woman he wants.” Second time Ryan’s shot down by a girlfriend of Jim, and this time, we don’t really feel sorry for him about it.

Michael returns to the office wet and bothered and announces that they won’t be using technology any time soon because it almost killed him. Ryan quips back that he’s wrong. But Michael has the final word on it, stating that “computers are about trying to murder you in a lake.” Touché, Michael Scott. Touché.