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THE OFFICE 8.07 ‘Pam’s Replacement’

"The Office" hits a low point as Pam's insecurities get the best of her and Andy fails to impress the CEO again.

 

Pam's emotional insecurity was the centerpiece of the last episode of "The Office". The review can pretty much end there, right? Remember when Office plots weren't singular devices that always somehow come back to being about Andy Bernard trying to crawl up inside the colonic womb of new CEO Robert California?

Thursday's episode of The Office found a third-trimester Pam training her replacement before taking off on maternity leave. Cathy is rather unassuming, but young and passably attractive. Jim's a smart cookie, however, and knows better than to take the bait when his wife begins fishing for kind words about her replacement. In the private-moment bit, he called Cathy “objectively attractive,” but would commit nothing beyond that. Because he enjoys sleeping in his bed more than on the couch, most likely.

Naturally, Dwight is the only straight-shooter that Pam can trust to be sociopathically honest with her. Pam enlists him to help her get Jim to admit Cathy is attractive, and yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is prime time Thursday night comedy television. Dwight pretends to fall, repeatedly and flagrantly grabbing Jim’s crotch to check for an erection – with underwhelming results.

“Does your husband have very soft erections? Cause if not, I just grabbed a very soft penis for nothing.”

The trio of merrymakers then find themselves in a pharmacy, where Dwight attempts to use the blood pressure machine as a lie detector test. It doesn’t work, naturally, but actually reveals that Jim has high blood pressure. Drama, folks! We've hit a major dramatic turn! Jim has high blood pressure!!!!

Pam's concern – and the shifted focus to Jim's health – was the writers' way of showing that Pam and Jim are just fine, her insecurities are only skin deep, and in the end their love will prevail. Would you like some pencil shavings on top of your wet cardboard sundae?

Meanwhile, an episode in Season 8 just wouldn't be an episode in Season 8 without Andy playing the supplicating brown-noser to Mr. California. Darryl, Andy and Kevin were rocking out in the warehouse, having a little loose fun, when Robert California appears. Once Andy discovers the boss’ musical talent, he invites him to join the jam – assuming it'll will do wonders for helping concrete that personal connection. Naturally, the man takes control, laying down some fierce harmonica before calling some of his friends to join them.

The Kevin and the Zits band quickly found themselves edged out of the musical fun, left to play the tambourine, or in Andy’s case, slapping his chest and stomach until he was too sore to continue. In the end, the trio left Robert’s new band to their Rolling Stones fantasies in the warehouse and took their act outside, where they laid out a stripped and actually pretty solid cover of Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way”.

The episode was cutesy and not without humor, but altogether "The Office" is becoming more and more a show of repetition and underwhelming engagement. It wasn't a total loss, however, as the cold open was among the most awkward we've seen in quite a while. Andy, in yet another failed attempt to appear professional, takes a page from the Michael Scott book of image cultivation and instructs Erin to interrupt him with a fake “important phone call” during a client meeting. His goal was to make it look like he was putting the potential client first. Of course, Erin overshoots the goal by a light year, telling Andy his mother died in a terrible accident. Andy, entrenching the humiliation even further, conveys to his client that his mother's dying words involved getting her son's client the best possible deal.

Line of the night: “That’s the best way to land a hot girlfriend. You just get her hooked on blow.” – Gabe

CraveOnline Rating: 6 out of 10