' ' Cinema Romantico: What Happened On Thursday Night

Friday, May 16, 2008

What Happened On Thursday Night

Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer at least a few witticisms regarding the most highly anticipated sitcom episode (for this blogger, at least) in recent memory. And what was interesting about the season sendoff for "The Office" was that they so glaringly brought to light what made it so god-awful at various times this past year by showing what had been missing.

You know what made this show a cut above for awhile? The supporting characters, that's what. And there seemed to be a distinct desire to neglect them, especially in the month or so following the writer's strike. Office boss Michael's (Steve Carrell) wearying hijinks (he seemed to be getting more mean and less reedemingly inane) and the blah courtship of Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Ryan (B.J. Novak) the (former) temp becoming a total jackass up at the New York office seemed to overshadow everything else.

But last night the writers thankfully gave everyone a moment - or almost everyone, at least. I don't think Stanley got to say a single word and that's a real shame. But there was the new HR rep Holly (the aforementioned Amy Ryan, who I'll address in a moment) asking Creed (Creed Bratton) exactly what he did and, confused and scared, Creed walking right past her as we cut to him wondering aloud who this woman is and why she's asking questions about what he does. "That's my business. I don't even know what I do. I should've written it down." There was the absolute riotous subplot of Dwight (Rainn Wilson) hazing Holly by telling her accountant Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) was mentally slow. What made it so funny was that everything Kevin did was not in any way, shape or form out of character for him but still carried out in such a manner to make you believe that Holly would think he really was "special". There was even a brief glimpse of the alcoholic Meredith (Kate Flannery) picking the lock on Holly's car to assist Dwight in another hazing prank of putting a live raccoon in the backseat. Of course, Meredith would know how to pick a lock! That's the characterization I was missing!

But in the end it all came down to the fabulous Amy Ryan playing the straight man to the many wacky inhabitants of Dunder Mifflin's Scranton, PA office, and you gotta' respect a guest star for being willing to dial it down and do what the character requires. The script let her have a few funny moments of her own - "Lovitz" - but mostly she worked as a surrogate for the audience, such as in the way she dealt with the unassuming Kevin and her reaction to Michael's going-away present to the previous HR rep Toby (Paul Liebenstein) of a note attached to a rock declaring, Suck On This.

Of course, she also had to work as the woman who sort of falls for Michael (and you know what? She made it convincing, and that ain't easy) to set up a bit of a love triangle for when Michael runs into his ex-girlfriend Jan (Melora Hardin) near the end of the show. And that brings us to one of two problems. Mainly, the whole situation with Michael and Jan and the situation with Jim's proposal to Pam not happening in light of Andy (Ed Helms) stealing the spotlight and then proposing to Angela (Angela Martin) who we then see at the very end quite literally getting it on with Dwight (a little too much, no?) have sent this once fine show spiraling into the netherworld of soap operaish antics. And that just ain't gonna' cut it.

Second, it appears from the way they left things that Amy Ryan may be back next season. And that's a hella' good thing....to a point. I plead with "The Office" powers-that-be to not keep her for too long. Why?

The movies need her, man.


Anonymous said...

If Jan got pregnant intentionally and knew it, how about all the wine she was drinking during the dinner party episode?

Nick Prigge said...

It's just like "Baby Mama" when Amy Poehler was pretending to be pregnant and then went to a club and drank and then, of course, it turned out she really was pregnant all along which means that, yes, she'd been drinking while she was pregnant.

(Oops! I meant, spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!)