Last week's episode certainly brought the funny. It was fast and intense. The punch lines were plentiful (''oaky afterbirth,'' ''snip snap, snip snap''), easy to decode (''popping your beets into my mouth''), and in-your-face (Jan and Michael screamed half of them). Last night's show took another approach. Don't get me wrong. It was a blinder but a totally different animal, so to speak. The pace dribbled and the jokes were hushed (when Michael addressed Oscar as ''Oscar Mayer Weiner lover,'' he practically whispered it). And instead of the single-note focus on a dinner party, we got dual plots Kevin and Andy's plan to win back the parking lot, Michael's attempt at life after Jan which brought us back to Dunder Mifflin. In short, we kicked it old school.
So what went down?
1. The staff temporarily lost their parking spaces. Construction workers renovating a neighboring business were stealing the Dunder Mifflin spots, forcing everyone but Michael to use a satellite lot half a mile down the street. It's a 20-minute walk for some, a 30-minute hike for others (Kevin), and dangerous for all. As Pam jokes, they got to see more of their ''lovely street'' like the junkyard dog attacking the bones of a rotisserie chicken. And Andy lost the penny from his penny loafers. Kevin is opposed to all the sweating. So when the guys' pleas for help are ignored by selfish old Michael ''Wish I could but I can't. Well can, but won't. Should but maybe shorn't...What part of shorn't don't you understand, Kevin?'' they take matters into their own hands.
2. Kev and Andy call a powwow of the Five Families. AKA, the five companies of Scranton Business Park. The bosses Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin, Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration, Paul Faust of Disaster Kits, Ltd. (''they call him 'Cool Guy Paul'''), W.B. Jones (a ''Grade-A Bad Ass'') of the company responsible for the offending construction, W.B. Jones Heating and Air, and Bill Cress of Cress Tool and Die (''Bill Cress is super-old and really mean.'') rarely meet. I don't think my boyfriend laughed harder than when these guys were introduced through Kev's voiceover and some mock stock footage (Bob Vance smoking a stogie was awesome). Anyway, one order from ''Cool Guy Paul'' and ''Bad Ass'' Jones gets them the parking spaces back. Andy then delivered my favorite quote of the episode: ''I did this for the little guy. For Joe Six-Pack. The guy who wakes up every morning in his $400-a-month apartment. Wonders how he's gonna pay his mortgage that month. Wonders how he's gonna fill his car up with oil. Wonders how I'm gonna pay my kid's orphanage bills. That guy shouldn't have to wonder where he's going to park.'' Talk about subtle humor. We also got to see him moonwalk in celebration. Okay, that wasn't so subtle. I just have one question: Who else noticed the state-of-the art conference room they gathered in? With the oak furniture and the HDTV? When did that come into play?
NEXT: Michael's back ''out there.''