The Office – “The Delivery”

“The Delivery”

March 4th, 2010

I don’t have a whole lot to say about “The Delivery” on its own, to be honest with you: as I am not one of those who have turned on Jim and Pam, or someone who feels that their relationship has anything to do with the show’s creative downturn this season (after all: they were all but married last season and the Michael Scott Paper Company arc was pure gold), I was charmed by the birth of young Cecilia Marie Halpert, which was heartwarming and emotional and all of those things.

I’m with Alan Sepinwall in that the episode sort of lost all of its momentum in the latter half, and rather than repeat his thoughts (all of which I agree with) I thought I’d consider the scheduling ramifications here. As I was discussing with Jaime Weinman on Twitter, I think the interesting thing here is the “Part 2” is unquestionably the weaker episode, but in what position is it the least weak? The Office is a show with a fairly impatient fanbase, and I think that “Part 2” likely played better as a weak second-half here than it would have next week, a slight blight on an otherwise well-executed storyline rather than another weak episode in an average season.

The second half of “The Delivery” suffers because it seems like the show adopts Jim and Pam’s state of uncertainty: it makes sense that new parents don’t know what they’re supposed to do, and feel like they’re in over their heads, so their side of the story made sense even if a few of the gags didn’t quite come together (I thought the “nursing the wrong baby” bit was a bit too broad for the show if I’m being honest). The problem was that it felt like the entire half-hour suffered: Dwight ripping apart their apartment made no sense, the callbacks to “Niagara” with Pam’s mother/sister were not awkwardly funny but just awkward, and Michael’s desire to match everyone up was listless considering that we knew it was leading to the Erin/Andy pairing, the romanticism of which has been killed by the long delay. None of the episode felt like it had any momentum, like Cecilia’s birth sent the entire show into a tailspin of sorts.

If the episode had aired next week, I think it would have been received even worse: I think as part of the one-hour, you can clearly see the chaos of the first half leads into the uncertainty of the second, but with a week’s delay you expect there to be new conflicts, not just the leftover resolution of the baby storyline. Here, the episode can serve as a poorly executed denouement rather than a weak and pointless sequel, which is in the best interest of the show maintaining momentum. As Jaime pointed out, the episode will probably play pretty well in syndication: separated from the anticipation about momentum or progression, as well as the current state of frustration with the show (Jim, in particular), I think the episode could probably play quite well, if not quite settling in as a classic or anything like that.

The one thing I will draw attention to with the episode outside of those differences was the way that Dwight and Angela’s story was handled. I’m more confused than anything else, to be honest: I was just commenting on Diane Negra’s post on the couple on Antenna about whether not they are meant to be together, and here we have them deciding that if they ever wanted to have a child, it would be with each other. We get a couple of moments where it seems like Angela wants this to rekindle some sort of romance (which, last we saw of the storyline, was the real barrier, since Dwight had killed her cat and all that jazz), but Dwight walks away from it, and he flirts with Pam’s sister (and brushes off their contract) like he has no interest in the relationship. If the show is actually going in that direction, planning on following through with this story, then I’m pleased: if this was all just a weird “Dwight is weird and odd” story that’s going to be pushed aside, then I’m disappointed.

Cultural Observations

  • I’ll repeat myself again: did Jim and Pam not see Marshall’s chart?
  • My favourite talking ahead was, easily, Meredith’s speedy “Like Clooney!” after suggesting she would never get married: short, irrational, fantastic.
  • Kevin had a big episode, but his fake relationship with Erin was weak enough that it sort of took away from his great food relationship with Pam.
  • I wonder if anyone has made a cake that looks like the prawns from District 9.

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