”The Office”: Dunder-Mifflin does Diwali
Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year: November sweeps! Yay! It’s when shows pull out all the stops to get your attention and Big Things happen. And trust me, Big Things will happen on The Office this month. But they didn’t happen last night.
No, despite the extravaganza of dancing, singing, and humiliation, last night was that workhorse of an episode that brings the funny just as you’d expect from any Office viewing… but in the back of your mind, you’re still waiting for more.
The very funny cultural-lesson episode, written by Mindy Kaling (that’s right — Kelly!), hit all the show’s major buttons. The episode was Michael-centric but still propelled the Jim/Karen and Pam/Roy storylines, while doling out delicious tidbits from those other officemates we love. Kaling gets what makes the show work, and she pulled it together while displaying great timing. I wonder if it creeped her out to have Steve Carell do such a great impersonation of her Kelly. And how cute were Kaling’s real parents playing her onscreen folks? I think we can all see where she got her acting chops.
I’m still amazed at how quickly I can go from thinking Michael’s an idiot (”It’s essentially a Hindu Halloween!”) to wanting to comfort him. He’s just this bottomless pit of neediness whose acting-out leads to lots of collateral damage. Poor Carol in her slutty cheerleader outfit! (Was that too mean?) That look she gave Michael while he got jiggy with it on the dance floor just said it all: part tenderness, part embarrassment, all pity. Only Michael would be surprised that nine dates was not enough time to secure a ”yes” to a surprise public proposal. And later, just when you thought he couldn’t make you cringe more, he leaned in and tried to plant one on Pam, who unleashed her trademark pull-no-punches-style response: ”I’m rejecting your kiss.”
Speaking of Pam, I love those moments when you know she’s missing the one person who really gets her. She deftly transitioned her snarky comment about Michael when Kelly’s would-be-doctor-husband responded with such genuineness, and immediately sought out Jim via cell phone. How long have they been texting? What do they talk about? Is it like the Big Call episode, where they just picked up like nothing happened?
There was one really unexpected thing for me about this episode. Nothing about David Denham’s previous portrayal of Roy as a big lunk prepared me for his touching vulnerability as he sets about trying to win Pam back. He was pure understatement all night long, from his puppy-dog-eyed interest in going to the celebration as a means of getting some quality time with Pam to his deflation at seeing her on the dance floor with Kelly’s would-be-doctor-husband. By the time all four parties (Jim, Karen, Pam, Roy) are in the same room, I might have trouble deciding where my loyalties lie.
Karen’s outmaneuvering of Jim and Ed Helms’ Andy was fantastic. I completely fell for her leaving the drunk twosome with little fanfare, only to show up outside and offer the stumbling Jim a ride home. Where will Jim wake up tomorrow?
Angela was right back in my sweet spot with the hateful one-liners (”I have to watch our shoes so they don’t get stolen”) and the very telling asides (to the poor guy serving her food, an exasperated ”You used your hands!”). I love how Kaling maintained Kelly’s vapidness by not even blinking at all of the dismissive and prejudiced things Angela said (monkey brains?).
As for Dwight, he got to launch into his Lord of the Rings-style explanation of Diwali, pull off wearing a kurta, and still harass Ryan. Awesome. Meredith let her freak-flag fly again, and Creed… Well. The Union of the Monkey. Need I say more?
Now, I’d totally hit my Adam Sandler threshold years ago, and not even the critically savaged but surprisingly watchable Spanglish could bring me back. And yet even I have to admit that Michael singing his Diwali song to the tune Sandler’s ”Hanukkah Song” was priceless. I can’t get it out of my head — so I’m forcing you to share my pain.
A festival of lights
Let me tell you something
Tonight has been
One cra-a-a-zy night
So put on your saris
It’s time to celebrate Diwali
Everybody looks so jolly
But it’s not Christmas, it’s Diwali
The goddess of destruction Kali
Stopped by to celebrate Diwali
Don’t invite any zombies to a celebration of Diwali
Along came Polly
To have some fun at Diwali
If you’re Indian and you love to party
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Diwali
What do you think Pam expected to happen that night? Anybody know exactly what Kelly’s sisters said about Zach Braff? And am I the only one who thinks (okay, wishes) that Karen is going to totally take advantage of a drunk Jim?