One last note on yesterday’s discussion about Michael Scott and the inverse relationship between his inanity to the quality of The Office (and then we’ll leave the show alone until next week). Just came across a post from Time TV columnist James Poniewozik, who essentially argued the same thing in his round-up of the best comedies currently on air. However, we disagreed about which Michael showed up in last night’s episode. Poneiwoznik asserts that “Double Date”s main problem was that it fed us the “too crazy” Michael. While I agree that it was just a “decent” episode, I don’t think it was because of an over-the-line Michael. Indeed, he straddled the line, but he ultimately came down on the side of tolerable. Instead what I think made this just a decent episode is that, as Alan Sepinwall notes, “the episode really didn’t know how to end.” I wonder if there was a big debate about whether Pam should actually hit Michael. Oscar belittles Kevin for betting on Pam, remarking that there is no way she can lose. But, as we saw, by (eventually) slapping him she did lose. They both lost. Perhaps it would have been better for Pam to just walk away, but I guess that would be the old Pam. And while the Michael-Helene romance was never going to last, it did feel a bit tossed off. I only wish the Michael-Jan affair could have ended just as quick.
Similarly, and to a greater degree, the B story with Dwight and Andy constantly trying to out-polite each other turned out to be a dead-end. It was amusing, if a bit too silly, but while it seemed to be leading up to a reveal of some evil Dwight plan, it just escalated to nowhere. This was far more of a let down than the Pam/Michael showdown.