Over the last few weeks, I, like the rest of God's United States (USA! USA!), have fallen in love with Amy Ryan's adorably geeky Human Resources gal on The Office. So I was concerned when last week's episode of The Office suggested that her time at Dunder-Mifflin's Scranton branch might be running out.
In tonight's episode, Ryan's character, Holly, was transferred to an out of town branch. No!!!!!!!!! Actually, that last exclamation point probably wasn't warranted but the ones leading up to it certainly were. I don't want Holly to leave the show permanently. Of course, television history is filled with characters conceived as guest roles or one-shot deals that wormed their way into our collective conscience, like Henry Winkler in Happy Days and Jaleel White in Family Matters. Holly somehow manages to be both cooler than the Fonz and geekier than Urkel, yet it looks like she might really be gone for good.
In the tellingly named, "Office Transfer" Michael and Darryl help Holly move to her new digs. Michael tries to put a brave face on the situation but it isn't long until desperation and panic set in. Holly understandably fears that a long-distance relationship with Michael won't work out and tries to end things diplomatically. Along the way, the trio "enjoy" a sadistic number of singalongs to Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway", a song that exists solely for the sake of road-trip singalongs. I loved the way the show handled this gag. Instead of going the expected route, with Darryl glaring skeptically while Holly and Michael sing their lungs out, Darryl sings along as well, albeit quietly and with a little more dignity than his road trip companions can muster.
If Holly and Michael do decide to pursue the long-distance thing The Office could very well turn into Long Distance Relationship: The Sitcom. If we later find out that Creed is involved with someone in Maryland or that Kevin has a Canadian girlfriend, we'll know the show has officially jumped the shark.
As an Office super-fan, it pains me to concede that tonight's episode was pretty fucking sub-par, with one major plot thread that just didn't work at all. In this week's Jim and Pam thread, Pam decides it'd be funny to play a prank on Jim where she gets Jim's asshole brothers to pretend that she lost her engagement ring in a pottery class. What the hell kind of a prank is that? And why does it need two accomplices? Jim's asshole brothers think of an even more bizarre, unnecessarily mean-spirited practical joke of their own. They decide to relentlessly mock the practicality of Pam's decision to become an artist. I guess their idea of a swell gag is callously picking at their soon-to-be sister-in-law's greatest anxiety.
The Office is generally brilliant at mining laughs and pathos out of awkwardness and pain but the Jim's brothers-taunt-Pam thread was dark and creepy and unrealistic without being funny or moving. It was a complete waste and dragged the rest of the show down.
In the episode's funniest subplot, Dwight decides to antagonize Andy by co-opting his shameless Cornell boosterism. It was an opportunity for Dwight to channel the smartass, irreverent, prankster spirit of Jim and Andy's mounting frustration and anger at having his sole source of pride and identity stolen by a cheeky usurper were easily the funniest aspect of an uncharacteristically weak Office episode.
Grade: C+ –Incidentally, this is the first C+ I've ever given an Office episode –What did you guys think of the cold open? I thought it was funny, but not as funny as it could have been –Wow, Jim's brothers really are douchebags. –Is Holly truly gone? I hope not –I did like how Ryan dressed up as Gordon Gekko, the guy from the insurance commercials