“I said I don’t want to be on the internet!” – Angela
My favorite episodes of The Office involve relatively simple plots that seem like they could naturally develop in an office setting. Episodes like the wedding and birth episodes from last season were big in scale and offered a lot of good and genuine laughs, but I would always be taken out of the moment by thinking of the improbability of getting the entire office involved in attending the wedding (especially since it was a destination wedding) or to be present at the birth of Jim and Pam’s baby, or moments like Andy disguising himself as a car mechanic or the entire situation in “Scott’s Tots”. I much prefer episodes like “Koi Pond” that tell a relatively simple story and rely more on awkward character traits than huge setpiece-based comedy. There are better shows for that kind of comedy, like 30 Rock or How I Met Your Mother. Quieter, subtler comedy suits The Office better.
Thus, I was pretty happy when the plot of the premiere episode unfolded and it indeed turned out to be a relatively simple story: everyone hates the new hire, but Michael wants to keep him around because he’s family. Despite displaying mass incompetence and a general lack of concern for anything even remotely related to the job, Michael refuses to do so much as give him any indication that he’s doing a bad job. The other plot involved Pam trying to make it up to Jim after she causes a prank to go wrong. Yet another simple story about a loving and devoted wife trying to make her loved one happy (even though Jim was being kind of a jerk about the whole thing). Of course, the writers couldn’t help themselves entirely and still snuck in several over-the-top jokes, like Dwight immediately establishing a “peeing corner” after getting stuck in an elevator with Pam (a result of the make-up-prank itself gone wrong). Still, I enjoyed both the humor and the spirit of the premiere. After a relatively disappointing sixth season, this episode gave me hope for a fond farewell season for Steve Carell.
Despite my confessed preference for subtler, more realistic moments, I did enjoy the cold open of the office staging a “lip dub” viral video to “Nobody But Me”. My own office stages a talent show every year, and one of the more popular options is to create a video of some kind. I can totally imagine people in our office organizing something like this and everyone getting a kick out of it. I mean, they’ve got these expensive and nice cameras following them around almost 24/7 for the last 6 years, why wouldn’t they do something like this?