The Office: Livin' The Dream: Episode 21 Season 9 – TV Review

It’s a full hour of The Office this week with the episode “Livin’ the Dream,” highlighted by two big career changes for Dwight and Andy.

Check below for the full review…

The Players:

  • Director: Jeffrey Blitz
  • Writers: Nikki Scwartz-Wright
  • Cast: Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Creed Bratton, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, Paul Lieberstein, Oscar Nuñez, Craig Robinson, Phyllis Smith, Clark Duke, Jake Lacy, B.J. Novak, Andy Buckley, Chris Diamantopoulos

Episode Title: “Livin’ the Dream”

Andy attempts to get enough strength to quit his job and pursue his dream as an actor. Dwight finally receives his black belt in karate from his new sensei. Jim returns to Scranton and spends time with Pam.

The Good:

  • Pam Wins: So Jim decides to box up his career dreams in Philly and return to Scranton to make things right with Pam. This storyline – shaky from the get go – is now close to its conclusion.
  • Goin’ Out West: There will be no manifest destiny for Jim now that Athlead is, right on cue, getting a buy-out offer with west coast expansion. The scene with Pam overhearing Jim and Darryl from the ladies room was good. Seems there is one more chapter to go before we can put Jammer to bed.
  • Angela: Her plot was a highlight, and actress Angela Kinsey did excellent work portraying the personal hell her character is dealing with. Also, Angela might very well like cats more than her son.
  • Yay Dwight: One figures this was on the writers’ to-do list before the show closed up shop. And Dwight enjoyed the moment as most would expect. Bravo! Also to be noted: Dwight booting Clark back to the annex.
  • Clark: Delivers again with some funny exchanges with Jim and Dwight.
  • Cold Open: There wasn’t one. Is this a first in the history of the show?
  • Jim: Had some humorous moments, but especially liked seeing his genuine happiness for Dwight. Their hug/new job offer sequence was just right.
  • Goodbye Andy: His fall from funny, essential cast member to useless and annoying jerk-off hasn’t been enjoyable to watch the last two seasons. But now he is gone. The storyline was helped along by the (always welcome) return of David Wallace.
  • Honest Erin: Her comments to Andy about why he shouldn’t leave were funny.
  • Michael Imperioli: It was cool to see Christopher Moltisanti as Dwight’s karate instructor, Sensei Billy, but that was a bizarre cameo. The black belt sequence was good, especially the exchange between Billy and Wallace regarding Dwight.
  • Oscar & Angela: Now there’s a duo! Let’s see them as roommates. Seriously, the end sequence between the longtime co-workers was very sweet. Of all the people, Angela probably never thought it would be Oscar who would come to her rescue.
  • Best Moment: Dwight entering the conference room where David Wallace gets ready to offer him the job.

The Bad:

  • Andy: Some will be touched by Andy’s last goodbye, a gentle, acoustic interpretation of Sarah McLachlan’s classic/annoying song “I will remember you.” Others will not, feeling the whole scene to be a bit maudlin. Sarah McLachlan can do that to you sometimes.

Overall:

The super-sized episode goes down as one of the best of the final season so far. An argument can be made it is, indeed, the best episode of season nine, with two to go. There certainly was a bigger helping of laughs and warmth to go around than on previous episodes. There was a nice rhythm to the hour that felt very much like old-school “Office.” 1) Jim folds his career cards and returns to Pam and the kids. And right on cue, Athlead scores a big buyout/expansion, leaving Jim to toil in Scranton, secretly despising Pam for destroying his dreams (or not). But Pam overhearing Jim and Darryl’s conversation delivered a perfect ‘gasp!’ moment, which should keep fans guessing about what happens next. 2) The Dwight and Angela story-lines were each enjoyable in their own special way, and nicely intersected as their lives experience great change. But they end up together, yes? 3) Andy’s exit is long overdue, and it was handled fairly well, highlighted by the staff explaining their reasons why he is making a mistake – best when it was to his face.

“Livin’ the Dream” is a solid effort that represents a welcome step-up from the mediocrity of the recent batch of ho-hum episodes. Only two left on the shelf. Lets’ finish up strong!

 

Rating: 8/10

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

What did you think of tonight’s episode?