"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Office: Ben Franklin

The Office was in truly excellent form. From Michael's "epiphery" at the beginning to create a video for a future son to his revelation that "President" Ben Franklin is "kind of a creep," the episode was packed with laugh-out-loud moments.

Michael, as usual, stole the show. It was great to see him be his completely inept self at such tasks as jumpstarting a car and taking off a woman's bra, but Michael also had some of the funniest lines of the episode. His description of the bachelor party he's throwing for Bob Vance first as a "guy's afternoon in -- GAI" then as an "hour-long shower with guys" was just classic. Another great, similar moment was Michael calling the steaks "man-meat" -- to which Dwight of course yelled without any sarcasm, "I want some man meat!"

Other Michael highlights of the episode include his nonstop giggling at the sex shop (it was a great touch to have absolutely everything in the background pixilated), bringing the same George Foreman grill he burned his foot on to the office for grilling the steaks and admitting it, and repeatedly telling the stripper that she smells like Tide detergent.

I also got some great progression this episode on the Pam-Jim-Karen storyline. Karen and Pam were getting along really well while talking about the Ben Franklin impersonator, and when Karen brought up Jim I just knew it was going to turn horribly awkward. And as awkward as Karen and Pam's conversation was ("You're not still interested in him?" "Oh, yeah." "Really?" "Oh no, I was just confused by your phrasing.") it was arguably topped by Pam's stumbling small talk earlier in the episode with Jim ("Gotta get your REM cycle"). With both moments I felt sorry for Pam and just hoped she would stop talking and making things worse.

Pam was also the center of some other great comedy moments this episode, as she got more than her fair share of attention from Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Her questions involving Franklin's rumored girlfriends in Paris to whether he wears boxers, briefs, or pantaloons hilariously led to Benjamin -- a.k.a. Gordon -- hitting on Pam. Not even Pam's syphilis question deterred the erstwhile Gordon. Overall, this could be a big turning point for Pam, as she told Ryan that she'd be okay going on a date with one of his business school friends.

Missing this episode were both Oscar and Andy, with no mention of where they were. The stripper was even directed to sit in Oscar's usual seat. Regardless, the comedy most definitely didn't suffer -- "Ben Franklin" is one of the best Office episodes this season.

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