urx unit loader 'Office' premiere: Cat heaven is a beautiful place

While I welcome the return of The Office with open arms, I have to say that after the season premiere, I’m not sold on the idea of opening the season with four straight one-hour episodes. Thursday’s season opener was filled, as usual, with brilliant moments, but it didn’t hang together quite as well as some past efforts have.

Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run For The Cure spoilers comin’ right up.

So, let’s get this out of the way for all the ‘shippers: Pam and Jim — or, as the ever-brilliant Kevin dubs them, PB&J — have managed to survive the past few months, are still dating and still happy. But they’re doing their best, which is not especially good, to keep things quiet. As Kevin notes, they’re way too happy not to be together.

The documentary crew sniffs them out, though, following Pam as she leaves work one day (and did you notice Kevin hiding in the back of his SUV, trying for his own gotcha moment? Brilliant) and meets up with Jim. Given that this documentary crew has been following the Mifflinites for a good 2 1/2 years now, I guess it makes sense that whoever’s holding the camera would feel familiar enough to approach their subjects, particularly Jim, who’s always aware of his observers. But the camera’s never inserted itself into the action like that before — don’t know whether that matters, but it’s new.

Otherwise, though, I thought the show handled the PB&J stuff as well as it always has, underplaying the romance as much as the NBC marketing folks overplay it. Plus, hey, they got a kooky lamp for eight bucks at an estate sale during the fun run.

As nicely as that played out, though, there was a little too much Bad Michael in the hour for my taste. Though I darn near jumped off the couch when Meredith hit the windshield (I don’t know if that was stunt work or a dummy or what, but it was great) and I loved, loved, loved his little speech about being liked — "Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like being liked, I enjoy being liked, I have to be liked. …" But a little of pathologically needy Michael goes a long way.

(Just ask Pam, who saw his junk as he was changing for the run. And yes, he did say "Come in.")

But the good, oh my was it good. Angela has never gotten such a showcase, and she knocked it out. Just about every detail relating to the death of her cat Sprinkles was note-perfect: Her mourning clothes, the picture of Sprinkles on the (black) T-shirt she wore in the race, the clawed-up bags of frozen french fries, Dwight’s utter inability to be consoling, and especially her notion of cat heaven ("You don’t get there if you’re euthanized"), all of it gold. Oh, and her hip-check of Dwight too. Beautiful.

All that, plus:

  • Creed will be 82 soon. And he was in several cults — "had more fun as a follower, made more money as a leader."
  • Dwight and Michael’s evil plan: "Don’t worry, I put Immodium in [Toby’s] coffee." "… Immodium or Ex-Lax?" Cut to Toby, thrilled he doesn’t need a bathroom break.
  • Not much Ryan this episode, save for one talking-head scene where he explains his dislike of the word "wunderkind." It feels like there’s a lot of comedy to be mined from his usurping of Michael, and it looks like it will start next week with the introduction of Dunder Mifflin Infinity.
  • Classic Michael Scott metaphor mixing re: Ryan. "He’s a little fish in a big pond, whereas back here in Scranton, I am still top dog in a fairly large pond. So who is the real boss — the dog or a fish?"
  • "Kelly, you are Hindu, so you believe in Buddha." "That’s Buddhism." "Are you sure?" "No."

Summing up, then: Ever so glad to have The Office back. Just wishing there was a little more well-adjusted Michael.

Thoughts on the season premiere? Too much of a good thing, or just about right?