I would like to kick off this recap by making a statement: The new, heartbroken Dwight Schrute might be my new favorite character on The Office. Yes, even with his Nazi Grandfather Manheim. Dwight’s always been funny, and quite cocky. But this season’s romance problems have lent him a soft side, a vulnerability, that is absolute comic gold. It’s a nice new layer that really adds dimension to the character, and we can’t wait to see how desperate times in the near future take him even further down the beet hole.
Now, remember many months ago when we first became aware that the first 4 episodes of the new season were going to be hour-longs? And remember how absolutely excited we all were? Funny how quickly our attitudes can change, especially when the added 20 minutes can turn a fantastic episode into an exhausting one. As was the case with last night’s show, Dunder Mifflin Infinity, which saw the ol’ Belle of the Ball Ryan come back to Scranton with a full grown Muniz. The episode kicked off with Sad Eyes Flenderson issuing an anti-PDA memo to the entire office, and in the process, outing Pam and Jim’s newfound love to their co-workers. Michael, who fancies himself as everyone’s fake Dad but cares like a real father, is overjoyed: He pulls the two of them together by hand to express how elated he is, and Jim doesn’t even bother getting up out of his chair. And Pam avoids an unwelcomed hug by answering the phone for once!
Ryan comes back and Kevin — who is also stellar this season — dubs him LITTLE OLD MAN BOY, which might be my favorite description in the history of Latin. Kelly is excited for his return and, oh my God is she pregnant? (panic) No, she isn’t! Brilliant and thanks God. LOMB’s new DM initiative involves loads of technology (or at least Blackberries and a website), which gets Creed‘s hobo tinkertank a-janglin. They’re gonna throw all the old people away! Including Sammy and that other one! He, in turn, dies his hair a color that can only be described as “Harrison Ford in The Fugitive Black.” Toby acts like a gigantic sad baby, and refuses to let Jim and Pam declare their love on company paper. And Jan shows up to lunch with her man, only to have one of the best moments in the show with LOMB-y: “Love the Beard, Keep it Forever.” Weren’t those also Tom Cruise’s wedding vows? (Heyooo.) Jan then tells Michael that Ryan can’t push the old people out, lest he get charged with age discrimination.
Now, let’s take a short break to relive the Best Moment of The Episode… Where we meet scrappy raccoon killer but overall cuddly pal and new Vance Refrigeration Mascot: GARBAGE!!
We die laughing every time we watch this, which has now numbered 14. They clearly put gel on his little cat head! Sprinkles R.I.P.
After the jump, our recap continues! And we ask the question: Can we have too much of a good thing?
Michael calls everyone into the conference room, where he has planned one of his old school office speeches, replete with familiar print-outs of Tom Hanks and a brand new one of the Ol’ Crazy Lady from Titanic. He then calls into the room a legend in the world of office paper, Robert “Old Fart” Dunder! Oh and does he have stories to tell! Got a spare 900 years? You will be enthralled, amazed and (slow push, light shove, door slam) there he goes. Point taken. Dwight and Angela go out to dinner, where this exchange occurs: “How’s your meat?” “Dry. Delicious.” Angela storms out, and the relationship is over.
Michael decides to take Jan’s point about age discrimination to a new level, and prove that the “old fart” ways of doing things still work as good as “new technology.” So he gets together the Original IM, a gift basket, which Andy points out would have been much cooler had it been a Cashbasket, also the name of a gameshow being invented by NBC right now. Michael and Dwight head out with their giftbaskets in an effort to win back old clients that have since left for bigger and better office supply pastures.
It is here that the episode takes a sharp turn: From hilarious and enjoyable, to long, bloated, and unbelievable. The remainder of the episode primarily focuses on Michael and Dwight, heading out to random offices with their quite beautifully wrapped GB’s. (Oh, there was one highlight: Dwight cries, and Michael doesn’t bat an eyelash.) Their random office visits seemed endless and unnecessary, as every now and again we’d cut back to our main office cast discussing thing like Vince Vaughn and how money Ryan is. Ryan also assigns Pam to design the logo, which is really just a front for a dinner date. Jesus, are there any other women in Scranton?? She breaks the news of the PB&J sandy, and Ryan slunks off.
Then Michael drives into a lake.
Which is sort of hard to talk about, as it was so stupid, well, it’s just really surprising. And kind of scary. And we’re glad the cameraman lived. Michael, floppy-haired and newly motivated, walks back to one of the gift-basketed offices and demands to get his booty back. The lack of chocolate turtles sets him off, but in the end, he got his sundries and heads back to DM. Ryan’s haircut cost $200.
(Gasping for air) Here’s an example of a bloated episode that would have been made perfect had it been cut down to a 30 or 40 minute episode. Frankly, after watching it last night, we didn’t love it, though in retrospect our disappointment was probably due to the painful last 15 or 20 minutes rather than the whole episode. Rewatching it on NBC.com today, “Dunder Mifflin Infinity” had a ton of fantastic scenes, great character interactions, and some golden moments… which were all overshadowed by the stupidity that was the last 10 minutes. Also, what happened to fun Jim? Sure, we still have cute Jim… but where are the pranks? The jokes? The depth? We want Fun Jim back!! And, for that matter, fun Pam.
That being said, we see the potential for a lot of good storylines… we just hope the writers