Thursday, November 15, 2007
While certainly not the funniest year of The Office, this season has at least shaped into something odd and intriguing: a comedy about the pain of confronting the truth (which of course, with the writers' strike, we may not see pay off for a good long while). Last week, as I think somebody at Sepinwall's pointed out, Jim learned that having a love in your life doesn't automatically make you a better, wiser or more motivated person. This week's episode confirmed what I've suspected for a long time--that it's more compelling to push Michael's back against the wall than it is to unleash him on his environs. Confronted by a whole slew of secrets (the unexpected revelation of the journal was ingenious) while immobile in his chair and unable to flit around, he was forced out of his longterm denial and made much more sympathetic as a result. And with Jan's lawsuit, it also gave a shred of plausibility to Ryan/Dunder Mifflin's refusal to fire him, with the hint that perhaps they're just stringing him along. The trajectories of Michael and Jim will be interesting to see if and when this storyline continues. After all, Jan's evaluation of Michael--that he's an inept manager who would be better suited back in sales--was harsh, but it certainly wasn't wrong.
After the last hilarious episode of 30 Rock and a buoyant season so far, I'm not going to be too hard on tonight's dud--but really, Tina Fey should know better than to trot out a plot (Liz suspects her immigrant neighbor is a terrorist!) with only one yawningly obvious conclusion (oops, he wasn't). All three storylines dragged, in fact, with the main thread downright nonsensical: If the Middle Eastern gentleman knows that Liz is in the media and wants her to help him, then why does he act rudely toward her in the first place? I can't think of any other reason for this lapse in quality other than Fey's desire to score political points, for which I commend her as long as her teeth are sharp, but not at the expense of comedy. We've already had one Murphy Brown.