The Office Watch: Lowering the Boom Mic

Via: Tuned In

Spoilers for last night’s The Office below: Well, things got real there awfully quick. By “real” I’m not referring to the reality-TV element of The Office, or rather, the sudden crash through the fourth wall at the end of “Customer Loyalty” to bring in the film crew. But in the last few, tough-to-watch minutes of the episode, the sitcom showed the stakes behind its characters’ paper-pushing lives in a way it hasn’t since Michael Scott left Scranton. After Steve Carell left, I thought that The Office might have had an opportunity in making Jim Michael’s replacement as boss, which would push him to face a conflict the show introduced early on: does he really want Dunder-Mifflin to be his life, rather than just a job? Is this all he is? The show decided not to go in that direction–it had toyed with it earlier when it made Jim the temporary boss, then seemed to back off from the potential darkness of that story. Instead, Andy was boss, and then (essentially) no one was boss, and The Office became less of a poignant comedy/light-drama and more of a wacky ensemble show. That hasn’t necessarily been awful; I actually think the show had been on a decent roll this season, and mini-arcs like last season’s Florida trip showed off the deep bench the show has established. The Office could still be good, but it was only ever great when it acknowledged that all its characters, however funny, were real people with problems that mattered and dreams that they might have to recognize would not be fulfilled. For most of the half-hour, “Customer Loyalty” was the wacky ensemble show. But in that final, terrific phone fight between Jim and Pam, you could all but hear the old machinery waking up and sliding into place. This was one of the more naturalistic marital fights I’ve seen on TV in a while: it started with a piece of news, got sidetracked by a small conflict, then derailed and turned into a showdown about everything. It

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