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The Office season four episode reviews

Season 4, Episode 1
. "Fun Run" Even I was shocked when, before the opening credits had even rolled, Michael managed to drive over one of his co-workers. Instead of laughing, I was in shock. But, the laughs soon followed. As usual, Michael twisted the whole incident around to make something else responsible and - before long - the gang were running in a charity run to raise funds for a bizarre, newly made-up rabies charity. So, all told, it's business-as-usual in The Office, except for Jim and Pam who are now... a happy couple. And, yes, I must admit, it's simply awesome to see them smiling, happy, in cahoots, laughing, plotting and - best of all - holding hands. Great stuff. Long may it continue.

Season 4, Episode 2. "Dunder Mifflin Infinity" I'm still loving Jim & Pam. Indeed, the show's other couples got some quality airtime in this outing, and it was all good. Mindy Kaling gave me some big laughs this week, as Kelly faked pregnancy to lure Ryan out on a date! Brilliant.

Season 4, Episode 3. "Launch Party" Wasn't The Office always an hour long? Didn't it always have Jim & Pam as a rock-solid, very romantic, couple in the middle of all the chaos, and wasn't Angela Kinsey always getting all the biggest laughs? Well... maybe none of those things were true until now, but now that they are true they feel so so right. The show opened with, perhaps, the cleverest/funniest/best pre-credits sequence they have ever tried. After that we got a slow, careful build up as the team prepared for a WebSite Lunch Party, sorry make that WebSite Launch Party, until around the mid-way point Michael took a Pizza Delivery Boy hostage and - after that - the episode never looked back. Highlight #1: Jim & Pam's conversation on the roof. #2: All conversations between Phyllis & Angela. #3: Take A Chance On Me (which is a series highlight, too. Ed Helms rocks.)

Season 4, Episode 4. "Money" Mounting debts to cause Michael to (literally) run away and hop the train, in an attempt to ride the rails. Hilarious. The shot of Michael (from Oscar's viewpoint) through the window and as he ran away at high speed is one of the funniest things I've seen in ages. I'm also loving the Mindy storyline at the moment, and Craig Robinson got some great laughs in few short scenes. Particularly his observation that Mindy is only amorous when Ryan is around. "I get excited when I see that little dude walk through the door."

Maybe it's because I grew up with sit-coms like Taxi and Cheers, but my favourite moments in comedies are often the ones where the show stops making with the laughs long enough to give us some character moments. I liked this week's Rules Of Engagement when Jeff showed up at the wedding (the rest of it kinda sucked) and I liked this Office episode best when: Jim kissed Pam, Jim shared with Dwight, and when Jan complimented Michael in the train yard. All of these moments balance the show's more outlandish moments and keeps me a fan.

Season 4, Episode 5. "Local Ad" The gang make an ad. Hilarity ensures. Of course. Does it amaze anyone else they keep this show so fresh, working with such a limited location? It works because the characters are comedy gold. All of them.

Season 4, Episode 6. "Branch Wars" Joss Whedon returns to direct one of the strongest ever episodes. Michael, Dwight and Jim head away together to play a prank on a rival. At this stage I should pick out a comic highlight to illustrate how good this was. But where do I start? The fake mustaches, maybe? The scene with Jim listening to Dwight & Michael inside the building, maybe? Or maybe something from the b-story? How about a quote from Oscar? "Besides having sex with men, I would say the "Finer Things" club is the gayest thing about me."

In other observations.. Jenna/Pam has never looked more genuinely beautiful than she did in that purple outfit at the start of the episode.

And! This episode saw the return of Karen, one of my favourite-ever Office characters. Her return, and scenes with Jim, were superb and absolutely the best take I've ever seen of this situation. "Meeting the Ex" has been done many times on TV, and in fiction, in general. But this was wonderful.

Season 4, Episode 7. With Michael off in the woods playing "Survivor Man" (don't ask!) Jim is left in charge. And, gradually, becomes just like Michael. Not exactly an original plot, but handled superbly. The change is subtle and makes perfect sense. I especially loved the way Pam contrived at one point to set him up for his fall. The writers are writing these two just perfectly this season, and it's great to see them having fun with one another in this way. And being a happy, normal couple.

As awesome as the stuff in the woods was, the best scene was the conversation between Jim and Michael at the very end. Michael, now clad in Dwight's Battlestar Galactica sweatshirt (don't ask!) said some wonderful things to Jim in what is a series high-point for both characters. Man, this is a great show.

Season 4, Episode 8. "The Deposition" One of the best-ever episodes. Michael takes the stand to help (?) Jan in her case against the company. Lots of what happens is funny and lots of what happens is quite sad and touching. Skillful, wonderful television.

Season 4, Episode 9. "Dinner Party" is disappointing. In striving to create the most awkward, uncomfortable dinner party ever seen, the show has crafted an awkward, uncomfortable episode instead. Jim and Pam raise laughs, yes. So does Dwight when he arrives (making a great entrance). But, in general, the endless scenes of Michael and Jan fighting were more sad than funny.

Season 4, Episode 10. "The Chair Model" Back on form. Michael becomes obsessed with a model in a catalogue (as you do) and Dwight tracks her down. Well, actually, he finds her grave! Genius. This storyline is full of laughs and underscored by sadness: Michael is lonely, and too shallow/blind to bond with a genuinely nice woman who crosses his path. Kevin, meanwhile, got a great storyline where he solved the parking problems for everyone in the office and got a great line of dialogue about how great it felt to win one. Great piece of television that.

Best TV Moment of the Week? Jim teases Pam about proposing.

Season 4, Episode 11. Very inventive outing. Michael and Dwight join Ryan for a "Night Out" in New York (and, in a hilarious development, Ryan is delighted to see them). Meanwhile, Jim accidentally gets the whole office staff locked in the building on a Friday Night.

Highlight? Well, it could be the fact that Ryan is happy to see Michael and Dwight. So happy that Michael feels the need to state clearly who they are. It could be Dwight's considerable success with the ladies. It could be Jim's repeated phone calls to the security guard. It could be Dwight's conversatons with Ryan's friend, or all the stuff at the very start with the gum/peanut butter in Michael's hair.

But, no, the highlight of this episode was: Toby's exit. Even now, as I type these words, I find myself laughing out loud at the thought of it.

Season 4, Episode 12. "Did I Stutter?" Wow. Superb. Not just hilarious, but genuinely dramatic, too. And, unlike the episode about the painful dinner party, the very serious elements of the story are balanced by very funny ones. The a-story is a treat from start to finish: Stanley loses his temper with Michael and has to be reprimanded. Instead of dishing out another gimmick episode set outside the confines of the office, here is a story deeply rooted in the raison d'ĂȘtre of the entire series: Michael is a bad boss. The cast are wonderful, and the final scene between Michael and Stanley is one of the best that the show has ever done. Aside from that: I love all the meaness in the episode: Toby and Ryan being crappy to Jim, and Dwight being mean to Andy.

Season 4, Episode 13. "Job Fair" The biggest laughs in this episode came from Ed Helms on the golf course. Brilliant. While Michael and the department heads (plus Pam as eye candy!) went to a local job fair, the rest of the office staff played hooky and went home. All of them except Dwight and Angela. Clever. Finding a way to leave the two of them alone in the office. Nothing happened, but it was great fun to watch. John Krasinski, meanwhile, brought a new dimension to Jim as we watched him start to care about his job.

Season 4, Episode 14. "Goodbye, Toby" Okay, before I lavish praise on this fantastic season-ender, I have to start with a complait and a spoiler: Jim didn't propose!! What gives? What's up with that? He can't tease us (and Pam) for weeks and then do nothing! Crazy. The writers can't do that either. That was mean. I was all set for the big romantic finale (yes, I'm a wuss, leave me alone) and they didn't give it to us. Frak!

In other business... What a great episode! So many highlights that I don't know where to begin. Amy Ryan joins the cast as Holly: The new Toby. Who is sorta a milder version of Michael. She's sweet and adorable. And she seems to "get" Michael. Her Yoda-voice joking with him on the floor was simply adorable, and if the show intends to keep this romance going then they have found a way to make the show even better. The only thing sweeter and more romantic than that was when Michael didn't say: "That's what she said." That was awesome. Has he finally found the woman who might enable him to change? Gosh, I hope so.

Next: A misunderstading/prank led new girl Holly to assume that Kevin was "special" and nothing that Kevin did for the rest of the episode did anything to dissuade her. Comedy Gold!

I could go on and on. Toby, Ryan, Phyllis... Everyone had great scenes and major story developments. Dwight and Angela got the best-ever shock ending. Wow. And, except for Jim's non-proposal, it was pretty much a perfect episode. Again.

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