Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Office, s.4ep.6: "Branch Wars" wri. Mindy Kaling, 2007

Svelte. Adheres to the classic model of The Office: Dwight and Michael act the fools; Jim plays the semi-straight guy to said fools and mugs at the camera; the A-story has relevance both locally and series-wide, maintaining immediate interest and expanding the possibilities of plot in the show; the B and C stories are funny and slight, but reveal more of the personalities of the characters involved than the audience had encountered before.

The last two bits, in particular, have been missing throughout the season. Excepting the episode from two weeks ago - "Money" - this season's plots have been reminiscent of season one, the main difference being that, instead of looking to be interminably separate, Pam & Jim here seemed to be interminably coupled. The reappearance of Karen introduced, no matter how quickly and sympathetically (and awesomely! I might add) defused by Pam, some tension into the relationship dynamic. Whether she appears again, Karen now exists within the world of the show; her presence and her and Jim's relationship must be accounted for now. I expect some tension between Jim and Pam. Also, it's nice to see a part of the corporation not attached to Ryan. His douchebaggery is, intentionally so, I imagine, a cliché. Intentioned or not, it grows tiresome and hasn't been anything but mono-dimensional.

As for the B story, the Finer Things Club is a great set-piece, especially juxtaposed against the likes of Kevin and Phyllis ("The other microwave smells like popcorn.") Pam is a fantastic character, and has really become the more interesting part of the Pam/Jim dynamic. Seeing her interact with not-Jim is always welcome. Plus, it makes the times they do interact that much sweeter. The tag, too, with Jim attempting to riff on Angela's Ashes w/ an Irish accent, is a nice reminder that Jim's humor isn't always appreciated by the other office members. All-together, great episode that proves that adherence to local convention isn't a bad thing at all.

(Wow - that was essentially Sepinwall-lite. I imagine this mandated writing will help me break free from my inspiration. At least I fucking hope it does - I may as well have ended that glossing piece of crap with a bulleted list of other things I liked. Which isn't to say Sepinwall glosses, just that my recapitulation of him is pretty facile and vapid. Sorry Al.)


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