The Office: Gossip
The summer months seem long without The Office on - even after a fifth series that at times disappointed in terms of comedy (the inherent reason to stay glued to the show week after week revolving more around the ongoing plotlines). But if it’s a break that does this much good for the show, then honestly it’s one to be applauded, for “Gossip” hits the ground running in a way that no season opener - with the possible exception of season three’s status-quo-shattering “Gay Witch Hunt” - has yet managed. Inverting the formula of last season almost entirely - by being a simple, straightforward “internal” office episode with no external characters, no mention of Corporate, and taking its plot cue from a relatively mundane aspect of everyday desk worker life - it harkens back to the glory days of seasons two and three by being, above anything else, desperately funny.
The pre-titles “parkour” sequence is about as close to “wacky” as the episode gets - but as telegraphed as the slapstick punchline might be, it’s hard to complain when it’s as beautifully choreographed and downright hilarious as this. From then on, however, it’s a pure and simple gag fest. Even plot takes a backseat - there’s no real hint of what the next ongoing storyline might be. Admittedly there’s slight development to Pam and Jim’s latest chapter - but it’s primarily as part of the overall comedic thrust of the episode (Michael’s made-up gossip), and also feels like a slight retread of the beginning of season four (with the pair keeping an aspect of their relationship secret from the rest of the office).
The very nature of the plot makes for an inspired method of bringing just about every character into the comedic fold in some way - although strangely, there’s an exception in the form of Dwight, being a rare episode in which he doesn’t really get much of a chance to shine. Furthermore, it’s somewhat strange that Ryan is nowhere to be seen. This is perhaps made up for by the one-off appearance of the three interns - it’d almost be a shame that they’re not going to be around any more, were their role not capped off perfectly by the closing credits sequence (“I learned that half of these people’s email password is ‘password’”) - but even so, it’s strange that an episode that fits so much in can’t really find room for two of the show’s main characters.
Still, though, after the back half of the last season was dominated by the Michael Scott Paper Company storyline - and as entertaining as those episodes were at times - it feels nice to get back to basics. Somehow, doing such an episode actually manages to feel “fresh”, something I’m not sure we might have predicted back when this sort of thing was de rigeur three or four years ago. In more ways than one, it really is great to have The Office back.
Mild - Pam and Jim seem fairly “settled” now, but his being able to put the ultrasound picture in the frame on his desk was nice, and the “shotgun” conversation a good example of their fun, easy banter.
Don’t you want to earn Schrutebucks?
As mentioned, an episode sadly lacking in trademark Dwightness - but his closing speech to the (two male, one female) interns amused: “One of you will do exceedingly well in business. One of you will make a living, and nothing more. And one of you will make a great mother. It’s up to you to choose which you want to be.”
Love that Andy…
Being the only person to actually believe their own rumour, and placing the question of his sexuality in someone else’s hands, was classic ‘Nard Dog behaviour.
The Wisdom of Michael Scott
“It’s like the end of Spartacus. I have seen that movie half a dozen times, and I still don’t know who the real Spartacus is. And that is what makes that film a classic whodunnit.”
Surely a toss-up between the reveal of what Kevin’s rumour was, and Michael’s short-but-sweet phone conversation with Cynthia… sorry, Teri.