The Office, “Christening”: Do you smell, like, a wet, warm cheese?

There’s really nothing wrong with The Office. Really, there isn’t. It’s just a show that’s run its course. It used to be SO funny and cutting-edge, and now, its lead-ins are the two funniest network sitcoms, and it just can’t keep up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s done. I didn’t take notes for the first half of the episode – what was there to comment on? Jim and Pam’s relationship and new-baby mishaps are cute and funny in a facebook-update-from-a-new-parent-before-their-posts-get-so-boring-and-repetitive-that-you-want-to-kill-yourself kind of way, but they’re not “Diversity Day,” “Healthcare” or “The Alliance” funny. Was spontaneous dental hydroplosion really that funny? Or was it just a more innocent time?

Funny thing, extensive experience watching TV only gives you enough insight to say what’s wrong with a show, but not quite enough to tell you how to fix it. With the office, these characters and their social dysfunctions have just been done to death. Each week, they’re put into a new scenario or “situation” if you will, and either Michael or Dwight or both will act crazy. Jim, Pam, Phyllis, Darryl and Stanley will play the straight men and women, and everyone else gets to be a quirky side character. It’s like the writers expect some kind of “situational comedy” to emerge from putting the simple act of inserting the characters into a new scenario.

That might’ve been enough twenty years ago, and hell, it may have even been enough five years ago, though I truly think The Office used to have a certain irreverent quality that it’s lost, but it’s not enough any more. Dwight selling Sabre products at the church was typical Dwight. And it made me think “oh, that crazy Dwight! Always the salesman!” but it didn’t make me laugh. Ryan playing the anti-establishment card and complaining about the password-protected Wi-Fi made me think “oh, that hipster Ryan! Always with the ironic glasses!” but it didn’t make me laugh. And Toby’s sad sack struggle with even entering the church made me think “oh, poor Eeyore Toby! Always with the uncomfortable references to his screwed up life!” but it definitely didn’t make me laugh.

There were parts that made me smile…

  • everyone sneezing on Dwight
  • Michael’s godfather impression (though even that got a little sad and uncomfortable when Pam forced him to acknowledge that he was not, in fact, CeCe’s godfather)
  • Erin telling Michael “I wish I had a job that I could just leave”
  • Jim accusing Angela of stealing CeCe, only to find out she actually stole the scones
  • The kid who decided to bail on the mission trip
  • Erin telling Michael to “get in quick.” “Why quick?” “Because it’s faster”

It’s all solidly mediocre humor, but that’s the best I can say, and I think that these days, that’s the best The Office can do.

P.S. Looks like we missed reviewing The Office’s Halloween episode – insert the word “costume” after every sixth word above, and you’re good to go.

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