The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.25 “Inside Probe, Pt. 1”

Being as this is the first section of a two-parter, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this episode other than its build-up, but I also didn’t want to leave the Office review on its own, so here goes.

Starting like Earl‘s previous “Our COPS is on” episodes, Randy runs into the crab shack, TV Guide in tow, but this time it’s for their featured Inside Probe, an Inside Edition-like primetime newsmagazine special hosted by Geraldo Rivera. (Who Earl can’t seem to stop calling Gerardo…?) But what in Camden County could possibly be worthy enough of a network investigative piece? Why, the disappearance of Ernie, the founder and original owner of Ernie’s Crab Shack, of course. (The special, by the way, is titled “Claws Of Death: Unknown.”)

Red rum and crab shacks.

Red rum and crab shacks.

As Geraldo gets into the nitty gritty of the years old case — the special was meant to air years earlier, but Darnell wouldn’t sign off on his likeness as he was still in the witness protection program — a focus seems to emerge, and that focus is directly on the Hickey clan and their friends. Earl and Randy, especially, raise suspicions due to their lengthy police records, leading to even more focus on Joy, Darnell, Catalina and Patty the hooker. (Those last two were a major part of Ernie’s life, as he would go see Catalina dance, and then get his rocks off later with Patty.)

That’s about it. It was all set-up, giving us just a bit more backstory into most of the characters we already know. (One thing I didn’t know? Randy Hickey’s middle name is “Doo.”) And other than two out-of-nowhere Howard Stern references, it wasn’t that funny of an episode. But hey, it’s only the first half, so I should probably just keep my mouth shut.

Okay, Joy did have two good lines.

Randy, are those you toe nails in the ice cube tray?

And at the end of the episode, where the main characters are complaining about the episode of Inside Probe being split up over two weeks, they bitch about how the networks treat certain shows, to which Joy adds:

Plus you can’t curse ’til a certain time of night.

[checks watch]


The Office 5.24 “Casual Friday”

Without question, one of the best Office episodes of the year and of the series run, this was a stellar combination of comedy and drama, main characters and ensemble, goofy humor and cruel humor. This is a perfect episode, and I dare those who claim they don’t like this season to find this episode bad. Sometimes The Office takes an entire episode just to support a few instances of comedy, while others lose most of the comedy to focus on the well-earned dramatic aspects. But not here, no siree.

Now that Michael, Pam and Ryan are back at Dunder Mifflin, the non-quitting DMers are now pissed that they don’t get their clients back. (You know, the ones that the Michael Scott Paper Company stole from them.) This is made especially problematic because in order for Pam and Ryan to continue as employees as DM, they need these clients, otherwise they’re just a waste of money. And so the office turns on the three turncoats (can one technically turn on a turncoat) and, led by Dwight, quickly forms a mutiny against Michael.

Andy: It’s on like a prawn who yawns at dawn.

Dwight: Stop doing rhyming poetry!

But Jim isn’t one to mutiny, and so he goes to Michael and informs him of the impending storm, and that Michael has a great deal of damage control ahead of him. But Michael, as he puts it, is “not to be truffled with,” and meets with the sales staff, where he learns of his only option to avoid mutiny— let either Pam or Ryan go. And who does he ask for an unbiased opinion but Jim. Jim, of course, will never turn on Pam, and gets angry at Michael for bringing up some of Pam’s biggest faults as an employee.

Please dont fire my future wife. That would make things really awkward at home.

Please don't fire my future wife. That would make things really awkward at home.

But Michael, finally, makes the right decision, and after fake firing Pam — an unfunny thing Michael seems to like doing to everybody over the years — he hires Pam and offers Ryan back his old temp position. (Ryan did, after all, almost sink the company when at Corporate.)

This is all enough material for an entire episode, but the show isn’t satisfied with that, so it adds to the whole kerfuffle the drama over it being Casual Friday, which in turn leads to some major battles over what is and isn’t appropriate workplace attire. (As assumed, Meredith shows up in a tiny dress without any undergarments, and Kelly tries to pull a J-Lo.)

And those aren’t even the two biggest laughs. One, from the underused Darryl (Craig Robinson):

“What did I tell you about building forts in my warehouse?”

And later, Jim tries to avoid all the madness at the office, playing a game of Scrabble with Creed.

Creed: Hey, I wanna set you up with my daughter.

Jim: Oh, I’m engaged to Pam.

Creed: I thought you were gay.

Jim: Then why would you want to set me up with your daughter?

Creed: I don’t know.

Comedy writers, take note. This is how to do a perfect episode, one of laughs, characters, emotions and greatly progressing storylines. Laughs are meaningless without a connection, and The Office knows that through and through.

The Office 5.7 “Business Trip”

I’ve never really been certain about Ed Helms as Andy on The Office. I definitely respect him as an actor, no doubt, but I was never entirely behind him leaving his post at The Daily Show to become the obnoxious blowhard that is his new character. Oftentimes he simply seems to be a dramatic foil for everybody else, a cipher simply meant to press other people’s buttons and get in the way of Angela and Dwight being a happy couple. Not much more.

But this week, the show decided to let him really shine, showing the soft underbelly of this rageaholic Cornell graduate.

Michael, as one of his job “perks,” is sent on a business trip to sunny and fabulous…Winnipeg. Bringing along Andy and Oscar and respectively a translator and a numbers guy, Michael and the two learn something special about the others or about themselves during the short trip, gaining clarity into the lives of these lonely, depressed Scranton employees.

O, Canada!

O, Canada!

Michael, hurting over Holly’s transfer, decides to hook up with the hotel’s concierge lady (Wndi McLendon-Covey from Reno 911!), but when she uses him for sex and kicks him out of her hotel room, he learns a very valuable lesson about the complications that love and sex bring. With newfound understanding, he calls up his boss and finally shows some chutzpah, complaining about the miserable business trip as well as how “sucky” it was to send Holly off, thus perhaps ruining the only chance he had at happiness.

Oh, but Andy gets the really good stuff this week. Still doing wedding planning with Angela, Andy sees this trip as an opportunity not to hook up with somebody else, but to help Oscar find a willing male lover, even if it’s simply a one-night stand.

“I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, engaged, whatever. A guy needs…intercourse.” – Andy

Andy ends up not getting anybody for Oscar, but not for lack of trying. So the conversation shifts to Andy’s engagement to Angela and how Oscar thinks that the two are completely wrong for each other. We learn, most pressingly, that Andy and Angela haven’t even had sex, and her version of “first base” is a kiss on the forehead. Oscar inspires Andy, in a drunken haze, to call up Angela and reveal some of his pent-up feelings, especially in regards to really, really wanting sex.

Angela [on phone]: We’ll talk about this later.

Andy: Naked.

Angela [on phone]: What?

Andy: We’ll talk about this later…Naked! [pause] I want to see you naked

The next morning at the airport, Andy doesn’t realize that the call actually happened – he thought it was a dream – but his conversation with Oscar has given him the courage to stand up to her better. And, likewise, Oscar really appreciates Andy’s attempt to get him laid the night before.

“Are you kidding me? It’s what I do. Get the whole nine nards.” – Andy

I’ve always felt Andy to be very grating, so it’s nice to see him loosen up and reveal the inner Andy, a sweet, confused man who just wants somebody to love, and if all else fails, at least he can help get somebody else someone to love. Maybe he and Dwight – the office’s two biggest blowhards – can finally come to an understanding with each other. (Although that is unlikely if Dwight is to steal Angela, his one true love, out from under Andy right around wedding time.)

Back in Scranton, Jim finds out that Pam is failing her Flash class at art school, so to graduate she will have to retake the class, which would mean another 12 weeks in New York. He accepts this scenario sadly, but knowing that it’s probably for the best. In the end, though, Pam surprises Jim and returns home to Scranton, declaring that she just really hates graphic design and that it wasn’t worth being away from Jim any longer.

Oh, and Ryan is back with Kelly, much to Darryl’s hilarious relief after putting up with that prattling bimbo for so long. Actor Craig Robinson has had a very big last few months in movies (Pineapple Express and Zack & Miri Make A Porno), and his final goofily joyous reaction to seeing Ryan and Kelly back together was just the cherry on top of the cake that was his stellar year.