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The Office 605: “Mafia” in which Michael Scott orders gabagool…

"I'll have the gabagool."

"I will have the gabagool."

Nice rebound from last week’s wedding aisle dance spectacular with an episode that revolved around an absurd situation that had just enough credibility to hook us and the dolt triumvirate, aka Michael-Dwight-Andy aka the best thing about the show at this point. I’m thankful the writers didn’t worry about advancing story arcs and just focused on developing a hilarious setup.

And thank the soon-to-be-ousted Zucker that Jim and Pam were relegated to mere voices on the phone (they were honeymooning in Puerto Rico).

Is it a surprise to anyone that the show worked just fine without Mr. and Mrs. Happy Happy Jimjams?

But for me, the “gabagool” moment (the Tony Soprano pronunciation of capicolla, the deli meat) was an instant Office perennial. (And let me make clear that I come from an Italian family but never heard capicolla pronounced that way. Granted, the only time it ever came up at all was during an order at Togo’s sandwich shop, but still, park your stereotypes at the door, peoples.)

If the entire episode had taken place at the lunch table and revolved around Michael ordering the “gabagool” I would have been happy. This was nicely escalated by Michael’s goodfellas…

Andy (wiseguy accent): “You know, the gabagoo?”

Dwight (yelling): “Bring him the gabagool!”

Then Michael puts the topper on it: “I’ll have the spaghetti. With a side salad.  If the salad is on top, I send it back.”

Andy is summoned outside to fix a woman’s car (because he’s wearing a mechanic’s outfit so he can bring a tire iron into the restaurant as a weapon in case it gets ugly, why else?) and he explodes her engine, telling her “that’s totaled, you’re gonna want to get a refund.”  Great moment.

Kevin’s disastrous stint in Jim’s office was a nice b story, although too much of Kevin talking in that voice (i.e., Kevin talking) can get tedious. But it kept Jim and Pam on that phone; again, only a good thing.

And they nicely reined in Dwight. He was silly and hardcore in the signature Schrute way without going bat-poopy insane on us.  Case in point: his reaction to Andy saying that Michael will wake up with a horse’s head in his bed.  Dwight reacted instantly with a quick rebuttal and an exasperated, knowing look that can only come from a beet farmer who pioneered a more efficient method to make hamburgers out of horses.  We thankfully didn’t get the cut to an interview where he talks about how your average American has no concept of how to decapitate a horse.  No need, the short line and the look got the job done. Kudos on the restraint, creative team.

Another element that I loved was the repetition of the word “mafia.”  Who says mafia any more?  And they just kept repeating it, especially Andy…

"You made the mafia apologize to you.  You made the mafia be POLITE."

"You made the mafia apologize to you. You made the mafia be POLITE."

Of course, once Michael finds out that they tricked him into thinking the salesman was not in the mob, while he most definitely was, he’s initially scared…but then he realizes he was just a complete bad-ass so he tells his war story to the entire office, adding that he told the guy “If any of your friends come around here, they’re dead.  I said something like that.”  Prompting Oscar to comment “Let’s be clear he backed down an insurance salesman from Mutual of Harrisburg.”

But Michael will not be put in a corner.  So he makes it clear who wears the pants with his coffee order to Erin…

"If it's not Stop'n'Shop, I send it back."

"If it's not Stop'n'Shop, I send it back."

Solid episode.  And props to actor Mike Starr, a go-to tough guy actor who never overdoes the “New York Italian Guy” bit like too many of his peers and will always be remembered as Frenchy in Goodfellas (“I’m the night watchman, I’m the Commandant.”) and as Eddie the Sinatra-wannabe in Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam.

"Garlic bread. Toasted, not burnt."

"Garlic bread. Toasted, not burnt."

When I first met my wife, she turned me on to the darkly comedic elements of Summer of Sam and we watched  it more than once on her crappy vcr and tiny TV.  And now, we’ve graduated to an outdated dvd player and bigger, but still analog and crappy, TV.  But at least we’re not getting shaken down by Grotti, who definitely changed his name from Gotti.

See ya’s next week, fuggedaboutit.

-Danny C.
(button man in Grotti crew)

photo credits: nbc.com

p.s. For anyone who wants more of Erin the receptionist (played by Ellie Kemper), here’s a decent deleted scene featuring her on nbc.com…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Erin vs. Pam“, posted with vodpod
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“The Office” 604: Niagara a.k.a. the big Halpert-Beesly wedding BARF!!!

Spoofing a viral video that's already forgotten 3 months later.

Spoofing a viral video that's already forgotten 3 months later.

My greatest fear right now is that we may have just witnessed the exact moment The Office jumped the shark.

The wedding aisle dance.

I’m not saying this is definitely IT, because of course I can’t predict the future quality of the show. But it’s a benchmark. It’s definitely…something.

(sidenote: Can you believe the “JK wedding dance” video debuted on July 19, less than 3 months ago? The web has completely distorted my perception of time when it comes to events. I initially wrote that this video came out last year, January at the latest. Boy, was I ever wrong! [enthusiastic kazoo sound])

I get the intention of the bit. It was supposed to be bad, meant to be a horribly uncool choice by Jim’s idiot brothers that is embraced by all the horribly uncool guest list. An act of kitsch that Jim and Pam would abhor, thus they are supposed to realize that not only are they powerless to stop it thus should just give in and enjoy it, but that it comes from a place of love from their friends and family.

Yeah, I get it.

Or maybe that they realize they did in fact try to micromanage their nuptials too much? But I’m not convinced that the writers on the show do think Jim and Pam were acting like wedding douches so that one doesn’t hold as much weight for me.

Whatever, enough trying to explain or defend it.

For the record, I found many parts of the episode to be funny (see below). It’s just that the wedding aisle dance, and the entire cliche device of Jim and Pam running off to have their own ceremony, on their own terms, while blissfully, incredibly, uber-romantically happy…represents, for me, the apex of the growing trend of niceness on a show that used to run so efficiently on cruelty.

If this had been an exception to the standard of awkwardness, then it would have been a nice surprise. But there’s been so frickin’ many of those moments over the past couple seasons that I just wanted to boot my TV into a half-empty swimming pool full of decapitated action figures and drowned Frasier-lovers.

Even so, I still love the show and will give it a chance; I’m not condemning it to sitcom hell or anything. There’s already places down in that fiery pit reserved for Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and the new Jenna Elfman sitcom that is about three weeks in and could be the worst piece of abortion shite in the history of the medium (and shall remain nameless because it’s not worth the 30 seconds of my time it would take to look it up; Definitely, Maybe? The Happening?). So TV Hades is crowded down there, and The Office will run at least 4 more seasons, unless Steve Carell decides to leave (although I could see them continuing the show without him). And there’s still a lot of funny stuff left in there.

But…I mean…just…grrr…c’monnnnn…

Click. Cliche-meter activated.

Click. Cliche-meter activated.

Mental picture taking? Really?

jim-pam-niagarafalls

Is anyone else boiling with rage that their favorite sitcom has been hijacked by the Today Show?

Okay, it wasn’t ALL bad. There were funny moments…here’s my favs…

"To waiting."

"To waiting."

Not on the registry.

Not on the registry.

Yeah, let's just order room service.

Yeah, let's just order room service.

And sure, it’s tough to sustain the funny over two episodes shown back to back. But did we really need to open on a vomitorium?

So Pam was justified in making ridiculous requests of her coworkers?

Didn't need to *airquotes*go there*/airquotes* did we?

My problem with this cold open was two fold…

1) I was eating a delicious tofutti cutie at the time.

Do not eat while watching barf-fest 2009.

Do not eat while watching barf-fest 2009.

2) It justified Pam’s riDICKulous request of her workmates that they cut down on perfume and adjust their eating habits because of her queasy pregnant stomach. Based on the TV writers that I’ve met (an egotistical, pretentious lot if ever there was one; at least the ones under 50 who haven’t yet experienced a nice humbling 2-5 year unemployment stint once their show, and style, “goes away” as they say), I’m willing to bet that The Office writers are frighteningly close to Pam and Jim in their belief that they are the first people ever to get pregnant and get married (in that order, because no one in Hollywood, real or fictional, knows how to use birth control).

Enough barfing. Mine and the show’s. I’ll end on a good note; I thought this little moment was hilarious…

"See you in Viagra fallllls."

"See you in Viagra fallllls."

I love the voice.

And I’ll be there next week. The steam should have stopped bursting from my ears by then.

reporting from a delightful cottage in scenic Niagara Falls,

-Dan Calvisi
Dan’s Scriptomatic Cinematic Telematic in 3D!

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