The only opportunities for the Dunder Mifflin gang to make it out of the office lately have been for either weddings or births, so they were due for a regular, less sweeps-y night out at a bar. Some of the most fun episodes of years past have involved nights of drinking, from the classic “Casino Night” (the season-two cliffhanger when Jim finally told Pam how he felt) to the episode the next season when Pam finally decided she’d had enough of Roy, who then vowed revenge on Jim. (And then there was the famous “Dundies” episode, with a very drunk Pam at Chili’s.) The booze brings out the best in them.
The crew all hit one of those suburban sports bar–arcades in which adults can impersonate teenagers for an evening. The event ostensibly came together so Oscar could hit on warehouse worker Matt (and shoot some truly wretched-looking free throws), but mostly because the Sabre story appears to have run its course and everyone needed to hit the reset button. We are of the belief that the show is at its best when it’s either being goofily romantic or almost unrelentingly bleak, and last night’s episode was a giddy example of the former. Couples were everywhere: Ryan and Kelly playing Dance Dance Revolution together and arguing about prize tickets, Andy and Erin finally confessing the relationship everyone knew they were having (fortunately, there will be no Pam-Jim cat and mouse), Pam making her first appearance since having the baby, Dwight learning that Pam’s friend Isabella might be his perfect match, and, most amusingly, Date Mike on the prowl. Date Mike is when Michael turns on the charm he learned by watching the losers on dating reality shows. The key elements to Date Mike are: unbuttoning the top of his shirt; ditching his tie and pulling out his collar, seventies style; putting a Kangol hat on backwards. Date Mike: nice to meet … me.
Because everyone was out and loosened up, this was a freewheeling, fun episode full of legitimate laughs, particularly any time Kevin showed up and wailed to Pam’s breasts like a baby in an attempt to get her to lactate. There wasn’t much plot to deal with — other than, hopefully, the show ridding itself of the ridiculous “Angela signs a contract to have Dwight’s baby” story line — so everyone just had a good time. We’re also very much enjoying the prominence of Darryl now that he has a desk in the office. If he has any more Japanese former surgeons who murdered a yakuza boss lying around, we’d love to hear from them.
Nathan Rabin at The Onion is a little bewildered why any woman would find Dwight attractive.
Daemon’s TV didn’t like Date Mike, but they are wrong.
Andrea Reiher at Zap2it thought it was one of the best episodes in a while.