SitCombat: 5/12/11

Akin to age-old queries concerning the sound of one hand clapping or a tree falling in a wood devoid of an audience, we now find ourselves faced with an edition of SitCombat without any actual combat.

Well, let me re-phrase: None of the editions of SitCombat feature actual violent conflict. What I mean to say is that two of our usual three participants have finished their respective seasons, thereby depriving us of a true competition. Without so much as an Archer re-run to be found, we’re now in a “Superman III” scenario wherein The Office had only itself against which to compete.

There’s no reason not to review the show, however:

The Office (NBC)

Tonight’s Episode: Dwight gets his inevitable (short-lived) turn as manager.

Good Stuff: “Must be because the stakes are so high” . . . The subtle change to the open as Dwight adjusts his desk samurai . . . Dwight’s portrait . . . Dwight pausing at Kelly’s nether regions and casting a skeptical eye . . . Dwight’s marble desk . . . “Gabe was a great guy, with so many wonderful qualities, but it was a challenge being touched by him” . . . The pirana? Oh, it’s a rescue . . . “As you pale skin and severe bone structure imply, you’ll age swiftly and poorly” . . . “You don’t have to keep wearing those boobie shirts” “THANK YOU!” . . . Toby’s excitement over being able to use the gun violence forms for the first time . . . “I love you guys…but don’t cross me…but you’re the best.”

Non-good Stuff: Hey! Opening the work day with the Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements seems like a good idea . . . As I’ve said before, “Pathetic Gabe” is “Not Funny Gabe” . . . Five seasons ago, Dwight wouldn’t have taken Jim’s compliment in stride. He would have sworn revenge—and made good on that pledge.

Line of the Night: “If we’ve already fomented insurrection, are we grandfathered in?” – Jim, seeking clarification.

Overall: This one had some ups and downs. Getting a look at what Dwight would be like as manager was an obvious way to go, but, if the goal was to get viewers to think, “Man, that would be horrible,” that wasn’t my response. The staggered lunches and other impediments hit pretty close to home as far as some of my work history goes. That’s a story for a different article. Anyway, I thought more things worked than didn’t. Gabe is a terrible character right now. And the reconciliation between Jim and Dwight at the end of the episode seemed forced. Other than that, Dwight did amusing Dwight things all episode. Jim had his share of good moments. Andy didn’t contribute much this week. Basically, this episode was a close win where one player had to score over half his team’s points: A win is a win, but some other people need to step up. On the other hand, this was a “Dwight” episode, so that sort of imbalance is to be expected, I suppose.

The bigger issue is that this is an increasingly-large cast that just lost its central figure. Yet, I don’t yet get the sense that there’s a structure in place to fill that void. I grant that all of that is being saved for the finale and beyond, but I worry that whatever arrangement the writers come up with may not be suitable for long-term success. I still hold out hope that it can all work. I also still believe Andy will ultimately be the new boss.

GRADE: B-plus

Final Thoughts: I think next week I’ll have to come up with some competition for the much-heralded Office season finale. They’ve packed it with a bunch of (probably) twenty-second cameos, including Ray Romano, Jim Carrey, James Spader (for some reason), and Ricky Gervais. I should mention that it’s pretty disappointing that Gervais couldn’t even do his cameo in person. At any rate, they’re setting the bar high for the finale. I can’t let that go unchallenged.

WINNER: The Office (retains title by default)

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