"Buts... are for pooping."
I can't believe this was the second time I'd heard the "here comes treble" gag this month. Do the writers of Modern Family and The Office get together every week and talk about the good old days when they were the hot kids on the block? Maybe they get a couple drinks down at some dirty watering hole off Ventura Blvd. and start swapping puns. "I got this great one. 'Here comes treble.' Do you get it? Because treble sounds like trouble?" "That's effing genius." I'm just saying there might be an echo chamber of mediocrity.
And that's what "Here Comes Treble" was—mediocre. It wasn't terrible, thanks to some choice lines from some of our associates, and Pam finally baring some passive-aggressive teeth at Jim over the road he's taking the couple down. But it was dull overall, with an appearance by Stephen Colbert that was nothing short of snore-inducing.
But maybe that's because the goal of the episode seemed to be to bring a couple characters back to the center of the show. For weeks we've been talking about how Andy has been shoved into a Michael-Scott-shaped hole, which has transformed him from being tolerable to unlikeable. Enter an a cappella group from Cornell and it was like a shot of life for him. We saw the shades of pettiness that Andy's always had and that trademark playing-from-behind lifestyle he leads, slighted by people with more influence.
His participation in the pathetic drama (Erin's words, not mine) between him and Broccoli Rob brought him down to earth and mades him vulnerable in a way we haven't seen in a while, particularly when Erin had to stand up for him. Colbert has the capacity to be a much bigger bully (as we've seen him cultivate in the past few years), but the show softened him by making him just as sad as Andy is, and maybe sadder because he still lives near campus. It was like Old School with none of the Vince-Vaughn-instigated shenanigans. So, really boring. Colbert singing "Faith" was fun but it still felt like he was underutilized, like he was just on to have more Daily Show alums featured on The Office before the opportunity is gone. I'm waiting for Val to be recast by Jessica Williams.
The other centrist move was for Nellie, who's been in a season-long process of positioning. She premiered as more of a caricature during last season's Tallahassee arc. Now, as she sticks around, and the writers have surrendered to trying to make her likeable and quirky, they've settled for sliding her into the Jim and Pam territory. She made friends with Pam a couple episodes ago but this week we saw that she's in now with Team Bland and her reaction to Dwight about the pill, her real talk with him later about anxiety, and her general demeanor throughout, shows that the nutty character dedicated to "special projects" is no longer and we're going to be subjected to Nellie as a new normie in the office. Such that it is.
What I did like about the episode was that Pam finally said something about Jim's bumbling through this sports-marketing thing. My favorite Jim nowadays is the Jim who falls on his face; it's the only thing that makes him interesting anymore beyond inventive pranks. Her joking around about it disappointed me at first (ribbing him about how it was something everyone else knew about except her) because I thought it was all going to slide by. When Jim told her she was the best and she answered, "I kind of am. It's crazy," I groaned at the screen: "Yes, it is crazy. You're crazy. Do something. Don't let your blandness swallow this drama."
And then they actually didn't. Kind of. When Jim fumbled again (by surrendering $10,000 needlessly because he's kind of a jellyfish), she finally snapped in her passive-aggressive way. Admittedly, it was a small victory compared to the mistrust- and anger-fueled drama we expected, but at least something happened instead of the couple quipping it away, shrugging and mugging until they're one big happy again. It's not resolved, either, the argument. They let it play out under Kevin's narration, which I actually liked. Let them duke it out for a little bit. He just spent the savings you started for your children. Get mad.
The unfortunate thing about Halloween episodes of The Office is that they never compare to the first, Season 2's appropriately titled "Halloween," which gave us Three-Hole Punch Jim, Two-headed Michael Scott, and the emergence of Creed. It was an episode where Jim and Pam were still interesting, the comedy was sharp, and there was even a bit of pathos at the end. This Halloween episode felt reined in, or like the writers were trying to rein things in. I suppose we can hope for better things to come.
– Oscar dealing with the senator was... it was fine, I suppose. The payoff shot of Ronald Reagan making out with a dinosaur was nice but Oscar's surprise and shame when noticing the camera put a damper on things. When I first watched it, I was curious why he was so annoyed since their dating is not news. But I guess the regret for being recorded engaging in adultery with your friend's husband in a documentary should be palpable.
– CreedWatch: "It's Halloween. That is really, really good timing." I know we're not supposed to consider what he was doing before work where he didn't have time to change out of his blood-spattered clothing but I'd like to know my motivation before definitely dressing like Creed for Halloween.
– The writers sure did get a lot of mileage out of that "Boner Champ" thing, didn't they?
–Speaking of the writers, have they decided to put Pete and Clark in the annex of characters they don't know what to do with? It seems like the new guys were poised for better stories that haven't come to fruition. Are they incubating? Ripening? Clark's premise of pleasing the boss had a negative amount of being compelling.
– The awkward Toby and Nellie scene might have been the most British thing the show has done in several seasons. Never pull away, no relief, just pure, raw awkwardness pouring out of the screen. It was beautiful.
– "I'm dressed like George Michael." "I thought you were Adam Lambert." Is Adam Lambert a thing again? Because he was on Pretty Little Liars this week, too, wearing so much makeup on his weird face that he looked like a permanent resident of the Uncanny Valley. I thought we were done with that.
– Shout-out to Ellie Kemper who continues to be one of the most consistently funny characters on The Office. Erin, Darryl, and Creed only catch touchdowns in this season.