In my past reviews, I’ve put forth little effort to hide my disdain for what The Office has become. I am completely well aware that Michael Scott is gone and the show is indeed going on. I do not think criticizing the show because it now has a void is fair to the show. Michael Scott is gone, what’s done is done. With that in mind, I have tried to keep my optimism churning as season eight has been progressing. Now that we are almost one-third through the season, all my hope may be entirely gone.
My main complaint for The Office’s recent efforts has been a lack of direction. The only real hints at direction we’ve seen thus far are Erin and Any potentially getting back together, Andy’s adjustments as regional manager, and the office’s adjustments to Robert California. Several episodes this year barely showed any direction at all. For these episodes, I generally scale back my contempt when I am at least laughing throughout the episode. “Pam’s Replacement,” did none of the above for me.
“Pam’s Replacement,” was about, well, Pam’s replacement. Pam is about to go on maternity leave and a temp is being trained to take her position while on maternity leave. Pam thinks Jim finds the new temp attractive. Pam teams with Dwight to uncover the truth.
Elsewhere, Kevin, Darryl and Andy decide to have a little jam session in the office warehouse. Robert California walks in on the would be rockers and insists on joining in with his harmonica. The jamming goes awry for Kevin, Darryl, and Andy as Robert California’s friends replace the trio on their very own instruments.
My first complaint with the episode is aimed directly its cold open. Wasn’t this gag already done between Michael Scott and Ryan Howard? To answer my own question, yes, yes it was. I even looked up which episode this occurred in, and for further clarification, this gag was previously used in “The Deposition.” Despite my hatred for such a rehashing, I did like the little spin Erin put on the gag. I have continually praised the development of the Erin character. With a little more push, she may be the only character I will be rooting for.
The “Kevin and the Zits” storyline was the most problematic for me. It was problematic in that there was really zero point to it. I always perk up when Robert California enters a scene, but his involvement in the episode was absolutely pointless. I did enjoy Andy’s scat and his body drumming but those minor details couldn’t even come close to salvaging this story.
The Jim-Pam-Dwight storyline was also mostly a downer. At this point, there’s really nothing left to do with Jim and Pam. The two of them as a couple have become slightly annoying, and even the writers have subtely acknowledged this in previous episodes. Jim and Pam have become the very “lifers” they used to mock. I know the show took them (well, Jim at least) in that direction around season four, but it’s made the characters difficult to get behind.
Continuing from my comments last week, Dwight Schrute has once again emerged as the major player he used to be. I thought Dwight was very good in his role and offered some great lines. He also made me wonder if I should ever touch pregnant women again. I know a lot of people hate Dwight at this point, but I argue it’s the show’s fault not his. The touching of Jim’s penis by Dwight is a moment that if properly built, could have been beyond hilarious. Instead, the moment occurred and that was that. I would like to argue if that scene was written by the stronger writing staffs of seasons two through four, it would have been an all-time classic.
Before I end, I would like to note the awesomeness that is the Steve Moore appearance on tonight’s episode. While watching the episode, I thought the local sportscaster looked familiar. When the sportscaster and Kevin engaged in a drum battle I thought “Holy shit that’s the Youtube drum guy!” Anyway, despite my negative views of this episode, the Steve Moore addition was neat.
Line Of The Night
“How’d I get this long triangle?” – Creed Bratton
The 411: Another hapless, unguided effort from The Office. "Pam's Replacement," may even be the worst of the bunch as it just seemed to be lazily done. Not much in this episode worked, and when it did, the laughs were marginal at best.