The Office 7.08 “Viewing Party” Review

Some of the best episodes in the history of The Office have come, ironically, outside the Dunder Mifflin building. So did “Viewing Party” make that list?

Strangely, everything about 7.08 worked except for its opening and end. While I love the continuing concept of the Scranton Strangler, there wasn’t really a funny line in the first sequence. And the ending was just…weird. The moment Michael (Steve Carell) started roleplaying as Erin’s (Ellie Kemper) daddy, the show went a bit off the rails. While its intended effect may have been an insight into the nature of their relationship, spelling it out like this came off as creepy.

With one exception, everything else about the episode worked. In fact, this was one of the funniest of the season. There’s something about gathering the group in a different location that mixes things up and typically gives us a fresh look at the characters. In this case, it was a way to see Gabe (Zach Woods) in a new light. Unfortunately, this was also one of those episodes where Michael’s insecurities grew particularly annoying rather than endearing. There just wasn’t enough here to justify his wounded ego except for jealousy and pettiness, so his childish antics weren’t particularly funny or even interesting.

Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Andy (Ed Helms) had the best moments throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed the Glee trashing (“…of all the emotions to base a show on…”) and Dwight’s role as the baby whisperer kept delivering (“the youngest always raise the oldest in the Schrute family”). It was great to finally see Dwight truly get the upper hand on Jim (John Krasinski) and its unintended effect of putting Angela (Angela Kinsey) in “heat” was a great lesson for men everywhere.

And of course, Andy being hopped up on Japanese seahorse virility powder was fantastic (“It’s springtime in the Rockies!”). Combined with the disturbing attempt by Phyllis (Phyllis Smith) to uncover whether Erin has had sex with Gabe, we still feel for Andy. It seems like no matter how many times the writers cover this same ground, it still hasn’t gotten old because of how endearing he is.

Being outside the office lets the writers play with more random funny, and it seems like it always gives the characters a chance to shine in a new way. We can always look forward to these types of episodes because they always seem to deliver.

Funniest moment: “And I’d blow your mind.” Tie goes (again) to Creed (Creed Bratton) for his Japanese.

Grade: B+

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