The Office is sharp as ever.  One of the trademarks of The Office throughout its run is the out-of-nowhere emotional weight that bubbles up amid constant hilarity.  Plotlines often revolve around truly sad moments in the characters’ lives, and from this is borne the sometimes “uncomfortable humor” that The Office is known for.  Last week’s “The Dinner Party” was a perfect example of this.  The first remark from every one of my Office-watching friends regarding the episode was along the lines of “Oh my god, that was hard to watch.”  And it wasn’t a criticism.  If a show can make you laugh consistently while you squirm, then it’s hitting some kind of nerve.  Tonight’s Office, “Parking” continues Michael’s downward romantic spiral as he searches for a Jan replacement. 

The Office: Dead Chair Models and a Surprise Twist

While Michael looks for a new office chair in a catalog, he spies the loveliest chair model (a woman) he’s ever seen.  This brings unfamiliar feelings to the forefront – he wants a new lady, and he wants to use the beautiful chair model as the template for said lady.  From there, he forces everyone in the office to set him up with an eligible lady, ends up going on a doomed coffee date, and visits the grave of the unfortunately deceased chair model.  Meanwhile, one of the companies in the office building is doing construction, and the construction workers are taking up some of the Dunder-Mifflin parking spaces, forcing employees to park in a satellite lot and walking a few minutes.  Needless to say, this sort of thing will not stand.

Story structure is my favorite thing to dissect when watching TV comedy.  The Office is one of the few comedies that doesn’t necessarily rely on a well-worn formula.  Tonight’s episode looked like a pretty typical sitcom for the first twenty minutes or so.  There was the A story (Michael finding a date) and the B story (Kevin and Andy solving the parking situation).  But, all of a sudden, the story diverts and it becomes the biggest moment of the season for Jim and Pam.  The conversation begins innocuously – Jim teasing Pam about her failed attempt at setting up Michael with her landlord.  Then, organically, it goes to Jim telling Pam she can move in with him.  And, it ends with Jim telling Pam that he’s going to propose to her – not right there, but soon.  Whammy. 

The Jam-ers out there are going to obviously fall head over heels for this episode, and they should.  But, I just love how the whole episode was kind of a misdirection.  I bet that the writers wanted to get to the Jim and Pam conversation, and then built a sequence of events that naturally led to it happening.  I love how the scene played out – Jim clearly didn’t intend to have the conversation steered in that direction, but blurted out some stuff that he’d obviously been stewing over for a while.  That’s how it happens in real life. 

This is a big-time moment in the Jim/Pam story, and I have a feeling that the writers aren’t going to torture fans any longer – they’ll let the rest of the characters go through emotional hell and leave Jim and Pam together.  Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.  The other emotional moment that came from out of nowhere was Kevin’s final confessional.  What started as merely a joke (Kevin was dumped), became a feel-good moment. When he said, simply, “It’s just nice to win one,” I couldn’t stop smiling. 

Best Quotes of the Episode:

“Oscar Meyer Weiner Lover” 

“There’s nobody I hate enough to put her name on this card.”

“As god as my witness, she shall bear your fruit.”

“As dead as every dead animal who has ever died.”

“Andrew Bernard is the name of me.” 

“She was stoned, apparently.” 

Finally, a quote that is sure to be a favorite of Jam fans nation-wide:

“Got it a week after we started dating.”

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV