The Office” was going to put together a solid episode this season sooner or later, and “Pool Party” was definitely it. Maybe it was the ensemble in their bathing suits, or Robert California’s very specific, very x-rated vision for his expensive house, but plenty of positive things were happening in the episode, which resulted in an abundance of laughs.

Check below for the complete review…

The Players:

  • Director: Dean Holland
  • Writers: Owen Ellickson
  • Cast: Rainn Wilson, James Spader, John Krasinski, B.J. Novak, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, Paul Lieberstein, Oscar Nuñez, Craig Robinson, Phyllis Smith

Episode: “Pool Party”

Robert California invites the staff to his house for one last party before he moves out. Erin uses Dwight to make Andy jealous.

The Good:

  • Robert California: A. It was great to have Robert around for a full episode.  The man definitely had a specific dream for how he wanted his life, in his beautiful house in Scranton, to be. It was funny to hear Robert describe what erotic activities he would have liked to had taken place in the many spacious rooms around the house. Of course he’d be eating a leg of mutton in the kitchen! Who wouldn’t! The man wanted his own, real life version of Eyes Wide Shut — the good parts, with the nudity and the orgies and masks. A plush screening room to sit back with a bottle of wine (your own) and watch Last Tango In Paris, Emmanuelle 2 and Caligula? Sure, how could that triple bill of cinema not be awesome. I want to party with this man.
  • Naked: Then Robert gets naked and jumps into the pool. Bravo! Ryan and Gabe jumping in naked right after was also great. Ryan keeping his socks on was the cherry on top.
  • Erin: She rocked the one-piece. And she looked good.
  • Hick: Dwight might have had the line of the night when he pushed Erin into the pool: “You wanna play you little hick?!”
  • Pool: Things have been mediocre when the gang has ventured out of the office, but this pool party worked splendidly. Watching the ensemble let loose and have fun by the pool was fun. And Creed, in bathing suit playing guitar by the pool, was genius. Okay, so I thought Dwight had a heart attack right before commercial, but even that somewhat surprising moment helped make the episode such a winner.
  • Pretty: “You sound really pretty today” was also a highlight line of dialogue, delivered expertly over the phone by Erin.
  • Meatball’d: The cold open was funny. The twist at the end! Yes! Dwight and Stanley work a scam on Jim.
  • Idiot: Had to love when Dwight called Andy an idiot. So perfect.

The Bad (but not that bad):

  • Darryl: I had to pick something from an otherwise solid episode, so here it is: Darryl. His smallish plot was the least interesting and his wooing of Val is annoying.
  • Girl: The cute girl who is filling in for Pam – she totally has the hots for Jim, right? Are they setting something up for later? There was a subtle moment at the pool party when she looked for him.  I find the whole thing crazy. Crazy, I say! Who is the woman!?

Overall:

I think “Pool Party” is my favorite episode so far this season. The Robert California and Erin/Dwight/Andy story lines were rock solid. Previous excursions out of the office have been blah, but the pool party setting really complimented the ensemble – and the sharp writing.

Even the brief moments between Toby and Oscar were well-played. Kevin was funny. Meredith had good lines. Ryan and Gabe did some hilarious ass-kissing to Robert “I want to be Bob Guccione” California.

The writers are still holding on to the Erin-Andy thing for future use, and then there is thing with the cute temp. So we’ll see what happens.

But “Pool Party” was loose and playful and it held up nicely start to finish, from the meatball-themed cold open to Gabe and Ryan dancing into the wee small hours of the morning in front of a passed out Robert. Great rhythm to the episode, which has been lacking from one episode to the next this season.

There has been plenty of negative things to say about “The Office” during season 8t, but “Pool Party” was a success, and the show deserves tons of praise and good vibes – at least for tonight.

Next week we might revert back to so-so material, but tonight the show rocked and spotlighted all the qualities – cast, writing – that makes the show a joy to watch.

Rating: 9/10

“The Office” airs on NBC at 9pm (ET/PT) on Thursday nights.

What did you think of last night’s episode?