The Office: A Lesson in Failure

theofficeoff_5017_03The Office has had its fair share of clunkers this season – 5 year fatigue? – and Thursday’s two-part episode conclusion was yet another. After a satisfactory build-up in “Lecture Circuit: Part I,” I was hoping that we’d figure out some dirt on Kelly, Jim and Dwight would continue to delight in their failed party planning, and that the delightful Holly would return. On all counts I was as disappointed as the audiences of Michael’s lectures. “Lecture Circuit: Part II” was nothing less than a lesson in failure.

Failure 1: On the party-planning front, Jim and Dwight were still trying to throw a belated birthday party for Kelly. In the midst of planning it, Dwight had discovered that Kelly had spent time in Juvie as a teenager. I was hoping this was a misunderstanding, and that we’d finally find out what I’d long suspected: Kelly is crazy. Well, good news and bad news: Kelly is crazy and she also spent time in Juvie (that’s probably all bad news for Kelly). Anyway, she went to jail for stealing her ex-boyfriend’s dad’s boat in a misguided attempt to win him back. Is it me or is that just sad as well as a complete misuse of our legal system?

Well, Jim continued to try to throw a party for crazy, sad Kelly, but failed (just like this episode) and couldn’t even spell her name correctly. Then Jim decided that the theme of Kelly’s party was that she could choose between taking a nap or watching a half hour of TV while at work. (Huh? Is that a theme?) Mysteriously, Kelly was really excited about this, chose a nap, and slept under the conference table while I continued to wonder if I was missing something. Like the joke maybe?

Conclusion of plotline one: FAIL.

Failure 2: Elsewhere in The Office other potentially-funny-but-somehow-not plotlines were happening around the fact that Angela bought a $7,000 cat with the money she got from selling Andy’s engagement ring. How many things can you find wrong with that sentence? To watch her new expensive kitty, Angela set up a nanny cam. But the kitties were not behaving themselves and an undersexed kitty (hey it is Angela’s) got a little too excited over the new princess. Kevin, Oscar, and Meredith found the violation of Angela’s new prize kitty hilarious, but Angela rushed off to deal with her misbehaving babies.theofficeoff_5017_01

However, Angela forgot to turn off the kitty-cam and the Scranton office watched as she proceeded to actually lick her cats. I’m sorry, what? This was not only gross, but also not even remotely funny. It was just weird, weird, weird. She then returned to the office and coughed up a hairball. And this episode was officially worse than Catwoman.

Plotline two: FAIL.

Failures 3, 4, 5: But what about the Holly and Michael reunion you may ask. Surely that’s going to be good. Well, think again. There was no reunion. Holly was absent from the episode. This was especially unfortunate because all of Michael’s plotlines since Holly’s departure have been horribly weak, and the weakness continued.

Pam and Michael arrived in Nashua to discover that Holly was on an HR retreat, but maybe her boyfriend AJ could help them reach her. Boyfriend? Ouch. Predictably Michael had a breakdown in the middle of his lecture to the Nashua office and began interrogating an unsuspecting AJ about his relationship with Holly. Then he proceeded to crawl, yes crawl, out of the conference room. This was way over the top – is Michael really that incapable of human interaction? – but what followed was even worse.

Pam took Michael’s spot and continued his lecture, using his notes and horrific movie quote bastardizations to deliver it. Not only was it completely unfunny to watch Pam awkwardly deliver Michael’s speech, but it wasn’t believable either. Why would Pam do that? Why wouldn’t she just improvise her own presentation? Last I checked Pam has worked in Scranton for a number of years and has been doing the majority of Michael’s job for the greater part of it. Was she really incapable of ad-libbing her own lecture? I thought it was time for Pam to show off her smarts, instead I was just disappointed.

Disappointed Michael meanwhile investigated Holly’s PC (nice product placement HP) and found a letter on her computer titled “Letter to Michael”. He proceeded to take out a memory stick and upload the file. Is it just me or is this too smart for Michael? You know, the same guy that just crawled out of a conference room like a petulant toddler and cut a sleeve off the sweater on the back of Holly’s chair as a memento?theofficeoff_5017_05

Well, after the failed presentation, Michael confessed to Pam that he stole the letter off Holly’s computer. Pam was initially affronted by his invasion of Holly’s privacy, but curiosity got the better of her. So Pam read the letter instead and then deleted it. She told Michael that it wasn’t over between him and Holly, but divulged nothing more. Does that mean I can hope for a Holly return in a future episode?

Tally for this plotline:

Holly’s return: FAIL.

Pam’s squandered potential: FAIL

Ability to believe Michael as a human being: FAIL

After its “Lecture” series, it’s The Office that deserves a strong talking to.

Next up for The Office: “Blood Drive”. Let’s hope a little blood-letting cures The Office of its ailments.

Season 5, Episode 15: Lecture Circuit: Part 2 (originally aired February 12, 2009)

For more on The Office, click here.

Thursdays, 9/8C on NBC

Photographs courtesy of NBC

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