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Customer Survey: The Office was so funny I almost didn’t mind the lame angst


For about 28 minutes I was convinced The Office had dug up the missing seventh episode of Season One, such was the tenor and humor of “Customer Survey.”

customer-survey-kelly.jpgThe premises were mundane, but that’s long been the show’s classic secret weapon. In this case it was a disgruntled customer service rep and a silly plan by Jim and Pam to stay on the phone all day. (Even Karen never put Jim through that.) And the result was hilarious. I laughed nearly throughout, and when I wasn’t laughing I was engaged in the story.

But that was the first 28 minutes or so. And then came the confrontation, the ham-handed heart-to-heart between Pam and her charming, benign New York guy friend. We got what, about 14 seconds of screentime from him to date, a couple of quippy lines and virtually no sense of who he is or what he’s about.

So when he asks Pam to chat privately, unaware Jim is listening in on the world’s smallest Bluetooth earpiece, we figure he’s got designs on our Pammy. Nope, he’s got her best interests at heart. You can’t do New York in three months, he tells her. Jim may be in Scranton but her future is right where she is.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved how this scene played out. It was cringeworthy for the audience. And I did love when Jim said, “That’s it. I want to talk to this guy. Put me in his ear.” Jim fears he’s right. Pam does a little too. Plus, she wishes Jim weren’t listening in so she could pretend the conversation never happened. But it did. And the bumps in the Jim-Pam road just got bumpier.

customer-survey-jim-andy.jpgThrow in the fact that Jim revealed early on that he’s buying his parent’s house unbeknownst to Pam (because it’s the perfect time to buy more house than you can afford), and our favorite couple is in quite a pickle.

My problem was where did this guy come from? He knows about Jim. It was made clear Pam told him she’s got a man. But I could have used at least a little setup or motivation. Instead the guy comes out of left field, and the impact is undermined.

OK, that’s my beef. The writers really seem to be struggling with how to handle, or avoid mishandling, Jim and Pam’s relationship. That aside, though, this was still a classic episode.

I loved the cold open. It was plot-related and hilarious, the recipe every cold open should follow. It seems Michael returned from Nashua and told everyone he and Holly were engaged. Not according to Darryl, though. Michael needs professional help, and he’d dig into his own pocket to cover his co-pay.

Darryl has been amazing this season. Too bad we got very little of him tonight.

A double wedding is out after Michael, and Jim, vetoed it. But Kelly bought her bridesmaid dress. And it’s white. (Is a Phyllis’s Wedding call-back really a good idea? Eh, I laughed.)

Poor Michael’s mom, though. Whenever he’s getting married she doesn’t believe him. Makes you wonder how often it comes back. The speaker phone was a nice touch. So was his hanging up on her.

It seems once a year Kelly surveys Dunder Mifflin customers to rate the salespeople and help determine their bonuses. She then compiles a list. Kapoor’s List is not an appropriate parody, mind you.

Kelly’s out $100 on her dress, by the way; Michael’s out a fiance.

customer-survey-jim-michael.jpgWell it turns out customers find Dwight rude and abrasive. Big shocker. He concludes there must be a conspiracy. Bigger shocker. But why are Jim’s scores so poor too?

I loved the ensuing investigation, aided by Pam in the Bluetooth. She picks up on details, like Kelly cutting a conversation short. And while Andy complaining about Jim drinking out of his cup was funny, it seemed like a throwaway bit. Turns out it was the key to the story.

I wish they’d laid some foundation for Kelly’s party in an earlier episode. But it was so true to character for her to hold a grudge when Jim and Dwight didn’t show up. That is so Kelly. So is getting everyone who did come a personalized mug with their own cheesy mugs on them. (You so know those will be on sale at the NBC store by 11 o’clock tonight.) I loved the slow reveal and Jim’s realization of that too.

You know what else was nice? Jim telling Dwight he was right. That might be the first true bonding moment between them since the near-hug in the stairwell. Of course Dwight was right when he snuck up on Kelly and told her she was the mastermind but too stupid to do it alone.

This whole storyline was reminiscent of early Office, when episodes took the inconsequential and built entire plots around it in a way the reflected how office life turns the mundane into obsessions for cubicle drones. I didn’t love that final scene, but I’ll be very happy if this trend keeps up.

OK, here are some random observations and some of the funniest bits of the night:

Pam’s a gold digger, New York ain’t free. Get back to work.

customer-survey-dwight.jpgIf I were joking, you’d be laughing. Do you look like you are laughing? Impossible to say. I can’t see myself.

Why would Jim drink out of someone else’s mug? That’s nasty.

Andy’s scoping out Wedding Tentists. And they do gray!

Jim’s and Dwight’s practice sales call was classic, but the way Jim roped Michael into it sealed the deal. He even got Dwight fired over a million dollar sale. Bill Buttlicker is a big spender.

Jim Halpert is smudge and arrogant.

Angela’s Nana Mimi can’t be in canvas that long! And Angela doesn’t want to be married in a tent like a hobo. She will be married on a farm just like Schrute Farms.

Dwight may need a third shoe.

Dwight get out of my nook. That’s what she said!

You cannot say you were raped and expect all your problems to go away. Not again. You can’t keep doing that.

Michael has consumed a ton of leftover guacamole because people don’t show up for his parties.

Dwight and Angela are evil.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008 at 10:32 pm by Brian Howard. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Customer Survey, The Office



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