As the current caretaker of four cats, one of whom will be returned to an ex-girlfriend late in March, I am a sucker for cat-themed humor, which just so happens to be one of The Office’s great strengths. Tonight was a veritable orgy of cat comedy and also just plain cat orgies. That other cat was so totally watching! I once entered my bathroom a few months back only to stumble upon the horrifying sight of two of my ex-girlfriend’s fixed gay cats humping vigorously. I felt unclean, like I needed to engage in some strange purification ritual to purge the mental image of creatures I had projected all manner of dignity unto behaving like, well, animals. Horny, horny animals.
The folks over at Dunder-Mifflin got to feel my pain, confusion and disorientation when an uncharacteristically ecstatic Angela had a webcam installed so she could watch Princess Lady, her insanely expensive new cat while at work. Angela’s wholesome amusement took a dark turn however when the gang witnessed Princess Lady being violated by one of Angela’s other cats. Cat Fancy morphed into a sort of cat-themed Caligula and Angela raced home to stop the insanity.
At that point the whole warped scenario got even sicker when the webcam captured Angela licking one of her cats. It was a subplot that adroitly satirized the way we anthropomorphize creatures that shit in boxes, eat puke and yes, dry hump each other even after a few choice snips from a veterinarian have magically erased their ability to do anything more than bump and grind. Angela’s cat-fancying ways say a lot about her character. It has been my experience that truly psycho-intense animal people often romanticize and obsess about cats and dogs because they don’t much care for human beings.
Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Tonight’s episode of The Office, “Lecture Circuit Part II” eschewed the requisite cold open in favor of a bullshit, “previously on The Office” summary of the last episode. For those just tuning in (I imagine this TV Club joint is read almost exclusively by die-hards who watch every episode), Michael decided at the end of the last episode to visit Holly in order to either attain closure on their relationship or win her back. Meanwhile, Dwight and Jim, pressed into service as the co-heads of the Party Planning committee, incurred the adorable wrath of Kelly when they failed to celebrate her birthday, then dug themselves into an even deeper hole by throwing a shitty party.
Oh, the drama! In tonight’s episode we learned that Holly has a tall, handsome new boyfriend played by Rob Huebel of Human Giant fame and is away at an HR retreat. Michael is understandably devastated. I suspect an epic Youtube video could be compiled solely of Michael looking crestfallen. At first he vows to skip his silly little lecture but Pam benevolently manipulates him into delivering the lecture on the curious grounds that everyone would be so bowled over by his spiel that they’d report back to Holly what an inspirational dynamo he was and she’d remember just how much she dug him.
The Office’s often-wavering commitment to verisimilitude is often chucked out the window for the sake of laughs and/or plot points. That was certainly the case tonight. Michael behaved in ways that would be grounds for immediate termination, if not institutionalization at a nearby mental hospital. After warming up the crowd with a few of his patented painful pop culture references, he immediately begins grilling Huebbel about his relationship with Holly, then runs away like a traumatized five-year-old. This leaves Pam to finish his lecture and indulge in a terrible, terrible Forrest Gump impersonation.
In one of the saddest moments in a show full of them, a lovesick Michael cuts off the sleeves of Holly’s lonely little sweater and borrows the information from her hard drive so he can read a letter she wrote to him but never sent. I had a major comedy geek moment when I noticed Holly’s Ed Grimley screensaver and my first thought was, “I wonder if that’s from Grimley’s stint on SCTV or Saturday Night Live”. Of course having an Ed Grimley screensaver just made me and Michael love Holly even more.
In the B or C story Dwight takes a break from grilling Kelly on her past as a juvenile delinquent to try to throw her a perfect party. To that end, he gave her a choice between watching television or sleeping for an hour, a mundane pair of choices that nonetheless made her deliriously happy. It’s remarkable how little it takes to make the average employee happy. I know I get shivers of joy every time I notice cookies in the A.V Club break room.
Tonight’s stellar episode wrapped up everything up nicely, delivered larfs aplenty and left the door open for Holly’s return. Also, we got to see more of Angela’s cats. Yay!
—Am I the only one creeped out by Angela smiling?
—I was also vaguely creeped out by Creed knowing when Bonnie Hunt’s show is on
—“I could get you a kid for that”
—Keith’s cat is named Princess Superstar, after the Mr. Show sketch. I dunno if she’s related to Princess Lady.
—“I was kicking it.”
—“How do you hate it? It’s a cake.”
—“Next time you get the cake and I get to scream at the birthday girl.”
—Carell’s reaction to learning of Holly’s boyfriend: perfect.
—Gossett Jr. + LaSalle? Have I died and gone to heaven?
—“I was looking at pictures of food on my computer.”
—No party is complete without at least a little horse hunting.