The Office: Truly Special Super Bowl Episode

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Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Show
The Office
Episode Title
Stress Relief
Season
5
Episode
13

To the relief of anyone who remembers the Super Bowl Friends episode with Julia Roberts, last night's special hour-long Office totally did not suck. Far from it. The episode featured a major character having a heart attack, a new credits sequence, a truly disturbing Dwight Schrute–Hannibal Lecter moment and one of the best, most raucous opening scenes in the show's history. But we suspect most people will just be talking about "Mrs. Albert Hannaday."

The fake film, pirated and downloaded by Andy to watch with Pam and Jim, starred Jack Black, Jessica Alba (barely), and the awfully game Cloris Leachman. The plot, apparently: Black ends up having an affair with Alba’s grandmother, Leachman. (Andy helpfully explains that Nicole Kidman was originally slated to play Alba’s mom, but when she dropped out, "they had to do some rewrites.") It leads to the hilarity of Black and Leachman passionately kissing and the absolute brilliance of Black wailing in anguish as Leachman leaves him by inching away foot by foot up her motorized staircase. This is how you do celebrity cameos.

The episode itself was worthy, too, though curiously unfocused. (It felt like two half-hour episodes awkwardly spliced together.) Dwight's fake fire drill was inspiring enough to cover for yet another Michael-wanting-to-be-loved-and-still-be-the-Boss subplot that takes over the second half. Though a Michael Scott Roast is such an obvious idea that we're stunned it took them so long to pull it out. Yes, yes, it turns out that Michael's ego really can't handle a roast. The Dwight-in-trouble story was something new, and hopefully won't be tossed aside.

Another Pam and Jim panic this week, too; the show is finding a different way to have a False Potentially Fatal Point in their relationship every week. This one worked, though: Pam's parents are divorcing, and Jim, it turns out, ends up securing their divorce by telling Pam's father how much he loves Pam, allowing Pa Beasley to realize that he's never loved his wife nearly that much. (Shame: We met Ma Beasley a few seasons ago, and she was awfully likable.) It's a sweet moment, but it had an extra level of oomph to it, considering earlier in the episode we saw Jim confess that, hey, 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, so it was either going to be her parents, or his. He's kidding, kind of, but it's another of Jim's recent wise-guy comments that, you'd think, is gonna get him trouble again here pretty soon. It was a rare Pam-Jim plot point that worked.

But mostly, we'll just remember Jack Black walking in on Cloris Leachman in the bathtub.

"Do you want me to leave?"

"No. No, I … I want you to stay."