...they drive me to the peak of despair.
We are about two weeks away from The Office season five premiere. Throughout the off-season, fans have been following morsels of spoiler information tossed out like tasty teasers from the cast and writers of the show. This has been a summer of Office anguish. The season finale, known as "Goodbye Toby", swam along in the sea of awesome until the final five minutes of contrived bull that would make Fonzie's shark laugh. We screamed at our TV's and burned our Office DVD's in effigy. Fans crowded the boards with "WTF's" and "OH HELL NO!" screaming from their keyboards. I was right there with them. Confused. Bewildered. Office season finales are masterpieces. This one soared like "the eagle's nest" and crashed the way Michael's Chrysler Sebring's front hood met Meredith's body.
When last we left them, fireworks (sponsored by Jim Halpert) exploded in the fine crisp air of a Dunder Mifflin night, capping off Michael's day long celebration of his hatred for Toby, and the happiness to see him ship off to Costa Rica. Jim and Pam, our pals, our favorite couple, the two people in this work of fiction who should be together, be married, have adorable babies, and live in that white picket fenced house of our dreams, get ring blocked by the dumbass Andy Bernard, who steals Jim's crackling romantic moment, making it his own by proposing to Angela. Angela. The Angela who allowed him to sail off in a sumo wrestling fat suit off the Scranton Sea in last year's "Beach Day" episode. The Angela who keyed Andy's car when he tried to oust Dwight from his job. The Angela who did this because in her own God Loving way, she will borrow a little from the devil to protect her man Dwight. The Angela who is part of Dwangela, the matching tight assed lid to the teapot of Dwight's geekness. Since she's taken up with the "Nard Dog" to punish Dwight for mercy killing her cat, this couple has never been taken seriously. Lets face it. No one gives a rat's ass about Andy and Angela.
To go back a few commercial breaks, we also discovered that Fancy NewBeasly is about to get even fancier. The Pratt School of Design has opened their doors to her, giving Pam the opportunity to shake the paper dust of Scranton off her sensible shoes and try some hipster wholesome in the big apple. I guess those schools in Pennsylvania don't really cut it. Shut up Carnegie Melon and the University of Scranton. You're not fancy enough for this new Beesly. Jim is her main cheerleader, and probably poured over New York schools on the web to help her make a selection. Since three months away is "no big deal", then I guess it's no big deal. But something caught in my throat when all this came down in the break room. How does a receptionist from Scranton financially swing three months in NYC without her job? I live there, am older, have more substantial work, and it's still hard to get by. When did Greg Daniels and company start taking Ex Deus Machina so seriously? Why throw an easy bone into the story just to get it moving along? I related to Pam (more to Jim, but still, as a woman, to Pam), and I know that I can't take time off from work to get that certificate or Masters in digital media I've always wanted. Grrr. There was much nashing of teeth. All my empathy for Beesly turned into jealousy and betrayal. However, as the summer drifted in a lovely haze, I got over it. It's just a TV show. Just like in baseball, there is always next year. I don't think the writers will break up Jim and Pam. We have next season to see what the writers are doing to the future Mr. and Mrs. Halpert.
The addition of Holly Flax, HR lady, the one person on this green earth who actually "gets" Michael, is a blessing. Not only is she replacing the pervy and wallpaper paste Toby, she's adorable, smart and normal. NORMAL. A normal lady with some sweet quirks and a good sense of playful humor. And she actually LIKES Michael! This is very much needed. When Michael is being spoken to on the same level, he actually calms down and speaks rationally. He doesn't crash his car into a lake. He doesn't tell high school boys that Pam would "do them". He actually acts human. That is why the sight of Jan, jobless and pregnant in Scranton is a let down. After the histronics and toxity of the Dinner Party, it would have been nice to say goodbye to that woman. Michael will now convince himself that he can be a dad to a lab baby, and keep Jan rolling in his paycheck. What a lovely thing to do while bringing a child into the world. Go. Away. Jan. Or, rather, come back as the professional Jan who hated her job but still had a brain. We liked you so.
We all huddle in the sanctuary of our bulletin boards at TV Without Pity, OfficeTally and More Than That. We worry about Pam leaving for three months of schooling in fancy New York City. The questions pound in our heads like jackhammers. Will she become a hipster and fall in love with a funkytown Frenchman and tell Jim she has second thoughts? How is able to afford classes at Pratt and live in New York without a job? What will happen to Holly and Michael, a couple we'd all like to see. Why do we have to care about Jan and her pregancy, when she got sperminated in a lab while living with Michael? And as for Toby coming back? I had a basset hound who had more personality then this guy. (Seriously my dog was a human in a dog suit). Please. Stay in Costa Rica.
Time ticks toward the premiere. We hear snippets of spoilery from Executive Producer and writer Paul Leiberstein indicating that Toby will be back (who cares?), there will be a baby shower (again...who cares, especially if it's Jan's) and there are engagements at hand, but not Jim and Pam's. There has been indication that Pam will remain in NYC longer than we all thought, leaving Jim Pam-less and alone in Scranton to face all the drones who long for pretzel day. Fine. If Pam gets to be all grown up and find herself, then I hope Jim will as well. May Halpert learn a few lessons as well, like, how to exist in life for something more than just Pam. Perhaps he needs to re-evaluate his professional needs by taking the lessons from his mistakes and applying them to growth, whether it be professional or spiritually.
I love The Office with all my heart. No other supply paper company has captivated me as much as Dunder Mifflin. However, the contrived and timely interruption of Jim's proposal to Pam indicates to me that NBC brass is making The Office "Power's that Be" switch to tired plot device to move a story along and keep the viewers talking online as well as keep them watching. NBC may have succeeded in the former, but the latter is a question that will be answered on September 25th at 9pm EST.
Even when The Office flounders, it's still beats out other comedies out there. With the exception of "30 Rock", which is the funniest, quirkiest, smartest comedy out there, The Office will always remain top notch. Yet, I fear that its quality may waver as the pressure to keep viewers interested and ratings high surmounts. I long for the sublime pace of storyline, realistic situations and humor of season two and parts of season one. It feels that the show is becoming too mainstream. Our little television show that could, went to the big city and came back all fancy.