THE OFFICE SEASON 7: Having fully set-up the Michael/Holly relationship, “The Office” takes a break from the romantic angle this week and treats viewers to a gimmicky but effective episode which scores the laughs and showcases the talents of the various actors who appear on the show. We don’t know how long this series can last without Steve Carell, but we hope that from time to time, more focus is placed on these kinds of episodes.

The Players:

Episode Title: “Threat Level Midnight”

This week references an earlier episode in the series when the office convenes to watch the final production of Michael’s movie, Threat Level Midnight. While the film is only slightly better than an Uwe Boll movie, the cast gets a kick out of seeing their characters on screen. Holly, however, doesn’t feel like it is the next Citizen Kane; predictably, Michael is not pleased.

The Good:

  • Humor-centric: In recent episodes, we’ve been focusing on the budding relationship between Michael and Holly, so it was nice to take a little break from all the drama and enjoy an episode that exists primarily to make us laugh. Sure, there’s a tense moment around the halfway mark, and yes, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” got more laughs with a similar episode last year, but for the most part, this one kept the humor coming.
  • Flashback: While thankfully avoiding the cliches of a clip-show episode, this week gave us a look back at previous seasons by briefly bringing back characters like Jan and Karen while also reminding us of a time when Jim and Pam were still longing for one another. Now if only David Wallace has made an appearance…
  • Toby: Toby’s involvement in the Scranton Strangler trial has kept him away from the office, but he returns this episode as a character in Threat Level Midnight–he plays “a wanted animal rapist”–who gives the movie its bloodiest and perhaps most memorable scene.
  • Andy: Ed Helms shows off his acting skills yet again as a bartender in Threat Level Midnight who epitomizes the way someone like Michael Scott would perceive blue-collar workers. Everything from the accent to the obsession with sports is pitch-perfect, and because Andy appeared in a play earlier this season, it’s very in keeping with his character.
  • Creed: Creed’s role in Threat Level Midnight is the Mr. Miyagi figure. He’s an American-Indian who teaches Michael the intricacies of hockey by having him mop the rink first. He totally sells it.

The So-So:

  • Production values: This episode asks us to suspend our disbelief a little too much. Sure, Michael’s movie is poorly made, but it does look like something with a genuine budget and cinematographer. He simply wouldn’t have these resources at his disposal.

The Bad:

  • Gotta have drama: As was mentioned before, the general comedic tone of the episode is briefly interrupted by Holly’s dislike for Michael’s movie. Granted, this moment lasts only a couple of minutes, but it feels out of place; it would have been better to allow everyone to just enjoy the fun of film.

Overall:

Major plot developments involving Michael and Holly are certainly welcome, but with their relationship more or less established, it’s good to take a step back and let “The Office” make us laugh. That’s what it’s there for, and that is what it accomplished this week. Maybe this episode didn’t completely fulfill its potential, but it was still enjoyable.

Rating: 8/10

“The office” airs every Thursday night on NBC!

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