The Office, “Counseling”: I hate looking at your face. I want to smash it!

It wasn’t that this week’s episode of ‘The Office’ was bad, it’s just that it was so damn boring.

After spanking his nephew in front of the entire office in last week’s premiere, Michael has to undergo six hours of counseling to head off any sort of legal repercussions. I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to work, but we’ll go with it anyway! So. Right. Counseling. Here’s the twist: Michael’s counselor — the one he’ll have to spend six hours with talking about his feelings — is Toby! Isn’t that nuts? Michael hates him, and now they have to hang out and talk! It’s crazy. Just think of how much mileage the show will be able wring out of all these jokes we’ve heard a hundred times already.

I think it was a little telling that the most interesting part of their story was when Michael actually opened up and started talking, if for no other reason than it was something we really hadn’t seen before. The rest of the story just felt like filler. Really, how many times are we going to hear that Michael hates Toby? And I understand Toby is that woe-is-me character who takes everything lying down, but there’s nothing even remotely believable about the amount of crap he takes from Michael. When you get right down to it, this story’s just run its course. The show needs to move on because this horse is dead. I mean, not just dead. It was covered up with privacy curtains and euthanized in the middle of a race. With kids watching.

The Jim/Andy/Dwight story, with Dwight “Pretty Woman-ing” himself to get revenge on some people at the mall who wouldn’t let him into their store turned out to be a lot of time spent on a joke that really wasn’t that funny. Oh wait, that was beet juice? Okay. Well, our mistake. Looking back on it, it seems like a lot of the humor in that bit was dependent on Dwight’s new clothes and haircut. Which is funny, I just don’t know if I would have centered by B-story around it.

But the episode wasn’t all bad. I liked watching Pam maneuver herself into a completely made-up job, even though I was a little surprised to see her do something that will, in the end, defraud the company out of thousands of dollars. I liked that Gabe didn’t want to definitively say that Pam was making her story up, and so was willing to just let her carry on with it. But hey, get the man a nameplate and he’s good to go. It doesn’t take much to keep Gabe quiet.

I liked the talking head there at the end with Ryan riffing on different quotes. “Earth. You don’t have to be crazy to live here, but it help.” Is it funny that he’s a more interesting character now than at any other point in the show? And all they had to do was dress him up like one of Kanye West’s entourage and take away half his lines.

Funniest of all had to be the episode’s teaser, with Dwight showing Jim and Pam the building’s new daycare. Mose finally came back, and I loved the fake baby strapped to his chest, and the fact that he said, “Welcome, children,” and Pam asked him if he was painting in the dark. This whole sequence was a gag that would have worked perfectly on ’30 Rock,’ but ‘The Office’ did a really good job with it. I think the lesson we’ve leaned from it is that we need more Mose.

Again, not a bad episode, just not terribly interesting. The show needs to remember that it’s only got Michael until the end of this season, so they to do something different with him and not just repeat his Greatest Hits.


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