The Office: Can This Really Be It?

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OFFICE MICHAEL CRYING.JPGWell, it’s taken me an entire weekend to grieve, but reality is slowly setting in: Season 4 of The Office has very likely come and gone in just a handful of weeks. The Writer’s Guild Strike has halted production, and some familiar with “the way the world works” suggest that AMPAS won’t be willing to renegotiate contracts until June of 2008, in time for the new fall line-up (and also when the SAG and DGA contracts are up… Though the WGA is meeting with them this week to renegotiate this week. Pray, my children.) That is assuming that the members of AMPAS survive until June of 2008, and that a gang of Crips and Bloods who also happen to be Office fans don’t roll up outside their homes late at night, if you read me. And also assuming the brains of the American population don’t suddenly rot and fall out of their faceholes over the next few months, considering we will be left with nothing more than reality programming and the likes of TongueBob Squarehead Tila Tequila.

As far as this television season goes, it’s almost all but dead: The last Office aired last Thursday (and is recapped below), and the only other comedy worth mentioning/worshiping, 30 Rock, has a generous seeming 4 episodes ready to go. (And dare I say that 30 Rock has trumped The Office this year in overall LPE’s, or Laughs per Episode. Tracy Morgan + pigeons = The Best Thing.) So, keeping in mind this is the last recap for a while, it is my honor to present to you the recap for “The Deposition” — not necessarily the most action-packed episode, but definitely an example of Steve Carell at his best.

OFFICE LIL HOT DOG MAN.JPGPam walks in on a meeting between Michael and his co-horts, and hands him a post-it. He signs the sigh of a million overworked bosses — another day, a million calls — only in his case, no one calls him: These post-its are small drawings at the hand of a possibly genius artist. These fake messages lends Michael an heir of importance… even Jan is impressed! (Ain’t it sweet that they lunch together?) Michael gets fake phone calls from all kinds of cartoon people, including a charming Little Hot Dog Friend. Hiya Buddy! Pam’s freehand drawing skills have never been put to better use. Ryan, sitting in the office with Michael at the time, insists Michael takes this call. Michael’s forced “Hiya buddy” seems oddly appropriate, and let’s just assume he would almost definitely be friends with that tiny hot dog man if such a thing were possible.

OFFICE MICHAEL IN CAR.JPGThe car scenes this season have all been amazing. Jan and Michael are driving out to New York to attend Michael’s deposition regarding the firing of his ladyfriend, who had the courage to augment her boons. In order to not screw the pooch at the depo, Jan is not just handfeeding Michael his lines, but chewing them up, swallowing them, and then regurging said ideas into Micahel’s mouth like a mama bird. He believes in mnemonic devices, where words like “Pattern” are memorized as “My friend Pat took a turn.” or his friends Disray and Inappro… if only Michael had that many friends! If everything works out in this lawsuit, Jan could win $4 million worth of guacomole, which is definitely a lot of green. Then, Michael gets car sick.

Ryan pulls Michael aside and warns him not to screw the company over, putting Michael between a shmuck (Ryan) and a hard place (Jan’s boobs).

After the jump, the rest of my exhausting recap… and if that doesn’t sell you, what about this: MOSE!

OFFICE PAM AND KELLY.JPGMeanwhile, back in Scranton: a smaller, secondary plot is occurring to break-up the more prominent storyline:

Jim and Darryl Philbin are playing ping-pong! And while cardigan-fan Pam chooses to support her man with fruit juice, Kelly prefers to do it the old-fashioned way: Smack talking Pam’s man. It does seem a little bit unlike our favorite chatter box to have such witty/rere cutdowns read to go, but this season Kelly’s character seems to have strayed closer to Mindy Kaling, Actual Person. Her insults were a little too clever! That being said, “Your mom is so fat, she could eat the internet” makes more sense than we’d like to admit.

Pam calls Jim into the conference room and orders him to get good at the game and beat Darryl, not so much for his reputation as a man, but really to quash Kelly’s endless insults… things like “Jim couldn’t hit a ping-pong ball if it was the size of the moon”, which is simultaneously the dumbest, and therefore most hilarious, thing ever said on this show. Jim = good boyfriend and agrees.

OFFICE JAN HAIR.JPGThe deposition is about to get under way in New York, when Toby shows up, which sets Michael off. Michael swears in, which leads me to this Theory: If Michael and Jan ever get married, Michael will responds to the “Do you take this woman” question with a drawn out “yeshhhh.” The attorney cracks his first question. Shocklingly, Michael gets his line right, and for a brief moment, wins Jan over.

Pam makes a make-shift ping-pong table in the conference room, and goes to get Jim’s first opponent, Kevin, who is psyched.

Back at the deposition: The attorney asks Michael if he had been directly under Jan for the 6 years that he knew her. He kicks in an old-fashioned “That’s what she said.” But here’s the thing with attorneys — and I say this with the best of intentions — they usually don’t have “senses” of “”humor. The lawyer has a mini-knippy and asks the court reporter to read back Michael’s testimony… which, when spoken in a serious manner, really does sound sort of inappropes, as in “she actually said that.” Well, that court reporter’s delivery was clearly all wrong. She should totally take an improv class.

Ohh… I really do not like smack-talking Kelly!

OFFICE DAVID WALLACE.JPGMore questioning: Michael states that Jan figured she was fired because of “the twins.” Thank GOD the attorney asked for him to elaborate, because the line “To be delicate, they hang off me lady’s chest” made the entire episode. On a different note, is Michael actually retarded? He is certainly written that way. Oh right, this is a comedy. My B! I thought Corby Bernzy was gonna strut into the conference room at any given moment, Lah-Law style.

Oh WOW! They brought back Jan’s topless photograph from “The Vacation”! Love episode recalls like that. Michael, who gets a touch panicky, blows his testimony when he states that Jan and him kissed way before they publicly “declared” their relationship to HR. When the attorney calls him out on it, we get a glimpse of classic “Panicky Scott”, who asks for his “line.”

Let me stop here for a second and change my tune: The Court Reporter should totally be nominated for a guest star Emmy: Her straight-up reading of exchanges between Michael begging the attorney to go the bathroom again was priceless.

We see that Jim can actually beat someone in ping pong! Sure, it was neighborhood drunk Meredith, but let’s focus on the bright side. Dwight discovers what’s going on, and admits that all of his favorite heroes are ping-pong players. Something tells me Lester Lewis, who wrote this episode, spent at least 10 minutes reading the Ping-Pong Wikipedia page.

Michael, pushed to his limits, sells Jan out and believes he is all done… only to have the attorney enter in Michael’s personal diary as evidence. So wrong, yet so deliciously right. His entry following his Jamaica trip read like a 14-year-old girl scrawling her deepest thoughts in a Hello Kitty Journal:

Just got back from Jamaica. Tan almost everywhere. Jan almost everywhere. Hee hee. Oh diary, what a week. I had sex with my boss. I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere, Jan was very specific that this was not going anywhere, that this was a one time mistake. But we had sex six times so you tell me. I am definitely feeling very irey. More tomorrow. xoxo Michael

The other attorney asks to see a copy of the entire diary, and the Judge decides everyone should get a copy, even Toby! Man, this is even better than when they discovered Threat Level: Midnight, Michael’s secret screenplay… too bad we didn’t get to hear more of the diary’s genius.

OFFICE LOST LUNCH.JPGIt’s lunchtime, and everyone is engrossed in the deepest thoughts of Michael “I Probably Write with a Fuzzy Pen” Scott. Michael has no choice but to sit with Tobes, and in a moment of Sweetness, Flenderson tells Scott he knows what he’s going through. After all, his parents got divorced when he was little, and he was embroiled in a bitter custody battle. And just when you think these two are going to have their first real tender moment together as co-workers… Michael slides Toby’s tray off the table and onto the floor. Shock of the episode! Sure, Michael is mean, but is he really that big of an a$$hole? Well, yes, he is. Not to mention he obviously had parental separation issues as a child (need I remind you that the dog had to be the ringbearer at his mother’s second wedding?) It’s all just too painful for Michael’s regressed feelings.

Michael confronts Jan about giving up his diary as evidence. He’s upset! Jan reminds him that he e-mailed a topless photo of her to all of Dunder-Mifflin. Not only are they even… but they’re still in love. The sex must be really good, because we all know how childish Michael can be about these things.

OFFICE DAVID WALLACE 2.JPGBack to the depo: An attorney asks who this other woman “Ryan” is: Just as hot as Jan, but in a different way. Jesus. The homoertocism is too much to bear, and Flenderson cracks up laughing. Oh, how these two always remain even.

And then, a moment of clarity. Michael explains that while he always thought Jan was his girlfriend from the beginning, Jan never considered Michael her boyfriend… so none of what he wrote in his diary really mattered. Good to see that his delusions don’t run too crazily deep, and that he can access reality when truly necessary. The attorney compliments his honesty, especially following Jan’s performance reviews. No, not in the bedroom, in the office. Youch. Why would they read him her performance reviews? How are they relevant?? It turns out that Jan may love Michael, but still concedes that he is a poor branch manager. Michael gets a stage tear in his eye. :’(

Back to the superfluous filler ping pong scenes. Dwight has certainly taught him… well, something. Pam schedules the rematch with Darryl. Dwight finds out that the “client” Jim is practicing to beat, as he had claimed, is actually Darryl. Well duh, you don’t sell paper to the guys in the warehouse! He throws the paddle on the table and storms out. Sigh… this episode needed more Dwight!

In front of everyone in the NY conference room, Michael wants to know how Jan could betray him, especially when he turned down taking over her job at corporate. Jan insists that’s not true, and asks the attorney to read the testimony of the hottest actor on The Office, David Muthaf*ckin Wallaaaace! Yesss!

Wallace’s testimony starts out nice enough… he certainly never utters a bad word against Scott, declaring him a “nice guy”… but then the truth comes out: Michael was never being seriously considered for Jan’s (now Ryan’s) job. Knife, meet back.

OFFICE MOSEEE.JPGFinally, the lawyer (Jesus, I’m starting to feel like a court reporter myself) asks Mr. Scott if he thinks the company is disrespectful towards employees. And Michael, who we all know is married to his job first and foremost, throws Jan to the curb and says “Absolutely Not.”

Guess what? Darryl is still kicking Jim’s ass at ping pong! Kelly debuts her latest hit track “Your Boyfriend Sucks at Ping-Pong” and Pam. Has. HAD IT. She challenges Kelly to a game. And guess what! They both suck at Ping-Pong! Has anyone else ever played the “P-O-N” game? I had never seen Pong-Horse before…

Jan and Michael share an awkward car ride home. In the end, their professional relationship is all but dead, but their heart relationship is still very much intact… because they’re getting Chinese… errr, make that fast food, for dinner.

And finally? MOSE!!!!

So, was this the ideal Season 4 closer? (Spit three times?) Of course not — there was barely any interoffice character chatter, and it almost solely focused on Michael and Jan (not that I’m complaining, I always love seeing their relationship play out.) The ping-pong side story seemed quite obviously tacked on, and other than Kelly’s smack-talking, really didn’t offer the usual level of hilarity we’ve come to expect with our Scrantonites. This was Steve Carell‘s episode, so is it any wonder it was still drop-dead funny minus the supporting characters?

Can this really be it?

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