The Office – “Night Out”

“Night Out”

April 24th, 2008

So, yes, I am extremely late blogging about the most recent episode of The Office. This isn’t because I didn’t like it, but rather that after a long, long day of packing and moving things I didn’t particularly feel like watching anything that I knew I would be viewing critically (It’s inevitable). As a result, I chose to watch the second season of Project Runway (Which, now that it won a Peabody, doesn’t qualify as a guilty pleasure), and only last night sat down to glimpse at the latest The Office had to offer.

I was admittedly quite satisfied with the episode, as it demonstrated the show’s willingness to step outside of the Office while maintaining the character interactions that make the series function. It was great to see a corporate falling out that actually makes sense (Why couldn’t we have had that for Jan?), and the office storyline was slight but certainly demonstrative of a side of Jim and Pam which we rarely see.

And there’s really not much more to say: it was funny, it was entertaining, and it showed some interesting sides of characters. But, let’s go into a bit more detail, shall we?

Michael and Dwight’s trip to the big city to surprise Ryan, whose big corporate website doesn’t work at all, was charming mainly due to Ryan’s total disintegration. The website really is a mess: sales staff are doing tech support, the social networking component was hacked by sexual predators, and now it is the reason the staff has to work late. Plus, I love the penchant for naming things 2.0, it always makes me laugh (Mainly because I’m working on a project that does it).

We got a nice balance of our three elements: Michael striking out with all women, Dwight making out with women while being extremely inappropriate in his actions, and Ryan coking up in the bathroom with his hobbit-like friend who he thinks “might have a drug problem.” It had some broadly funny moments, some subtle funny moments, and its conclusion (All three sleeping in Ryan’s really small apartment while Michael talks about how he enjoys the company of men) felt smartly poignant and not exploitative.

I guess you could say the same with the other storyline, although it was certainly less poignant: seeing Jim and Pam turned into the black sheep of the Office felt a bit too quickly thrown together (Only Angela and Phyllis have really let those sides come through in the past after their relationship became official), but it makes enough sense that rushing it works considering how crammed everything is this season. These are not angelic characters, and so it makes sense that Jim wouldn’t always be the hero people expect him to be.

It’s an interesting glimpse into the potential of Jim to ever take over this branch, or any other position, but mainly it was a chance to see a bit more of the other people in the office. Whether it was their lack of knowledge of the security guard’s name, or Toby’s delightful attempts to flirt with Pam to the point of going multiple steps too far, there was a lot of stuff that we haven’t gotten in recent weeks as the storylines have centered more on Michael. Toby’s fence-jumping journey to Costa Rica was a nice touch, and something that I am glad we haven’t sacrificed entirely as the show rushes to the finish line.

And really, as long as the show is funny I don’t mind, and this week in particular things were clicking: Michael was awkward but not so awkward he had no sense of logic or self-decency, Jim and Pam didn’t lie to cover their mistakes so much that I don’t like them (Even though Jim’s treatment of the security guard and the cleaning people was a bit one-minded), and there is some decent drama being created for however the series desires to head into its finale.

Cultural Observations

  • We haven’t had a good meeting in a while, so it was great to return to those interactions: my two favourites were Creed’s proclamation of love for the website (It wasn’t its easy to use interface, I gather) and Kelly’s long speech followed by “How COULD you?” I missed Kelly.
  • Does a low-level executive like Ryan make so little as to be able to only afford that size of an apartment? I know that being young yet he would have no savings, but I am shocked he didn’t go into debt to appear more successful on the home front. It was smart, in the end, considering he will probably lose his job.
  • On that note, to add to the above, this is how you demonstrate a corporate fallout: not by making them suddenly self-destruct like Jan, but showing both the reason and the method of their downfall. It’s a smart move, and perhaps the added clarity is caused by this rush towards the finales due to the strike.

3 Comments

Filed under The Office

3 responses to “The Office – “Night Out”

  1. bitchhappy

    As a New Yorker, I would like to confirm that in fact, a junior-level executive probably *would* have an apartment that size. Space is very expensive here! Especially if you live in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood. And Ryan is totally a trendy Manhattan type. 🙂

  2. The thing is, is he actually a junior-level executive? The show is implying that his job is Jan’s job, which even though he’s entering on the low-end of the pay scale would certainly entitle him to the ability to at least purchase an apartment with an actual closet.

    But, my sense of New York apartments is much too skewed by multi-camera comedies which require open space for me to properly judge – but let’s be fair, the external, graffiti-scrawled, police-siren exterior seems to prove that it isn’t all that trendy outside his window.

  3. bitchhappy

    Hmm– all good points. Some of the hippest ‘hoods are that much cooler for still retaining some of that “authentic” flavor, but Ryan seems like he’d want to live somewhere sexy, not gritty.

    In that case, I’m going to guess that he spent all the money on blow and hookers.

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