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I have an albatross I need to get off my neck, and its name is The Office.  One day last month when it was hot and I was cranky, I slapped on my Criticism Hat and finished off the remainder of season 5...

As (mostly) written 2 weeks ago:

Well, the good news is I can now definitively say that, contrary to the entire internet's opinion, the Michael Scott Paper Company arc is the worst storyline ever done in the history of the series.  In my calculations I have included, among other things: art school, Jim going to Stamford, Karen coming back with him from Stamford, and Angela getting engaged to Andy.  So you know I'm serious.

Also, Erin.  I used to hate her, hate her, hate her, hate her.  I studied her to figure out why I hated her so much...and in doing so discovered ample evidence that caused me to hate her more than I already did.

I mean.  You know that...noise, Sideshow Bob makes when he's disgusted by something?  Sort of a shuddering groan?  Often uttered right after having stepped on a rake and smacked himself in the face with it?  I keep making that sound.  Usually when Erin is in the frame, but when I saw the "U-G-L-Y" chant?  I felt myself spontaneously breaking into hives.  About the only thing keeping me from killing myself was Ryan's endless stream of Pam insults ("What do you make, secretary?" is like my catch phrase now).

But for the purposes of my own sanity, I feel like I should make a little breakdown of these depressing episodes, even though the reason it took me so long to post this is because they are like a BLACK SINKHOLE in my brain and I don't want to go back to that ugliness for any reason.  So.  Mini-reviews, seasons-2-and-3 style!

Dream Team: "Oh, no!  The new boss does not find Jim adorable!" Snerk.  Vikram is pointless and I'm glad he only lasted one episode.  I'm sad that Ryan's hair is freakishly straw-colored because I've been missing him something fierce and I WISH I could fully bask in the beauty that is him having the starring role the theme song promises.

On bright side, Jim teaching Kevin how to work reception transfer: awesome.  Less awesome: Pam's fugly clothes that I hate with fiery burning passion from here to the end of TIME.  The best part of the episode is still Pam crying and beating herself up in the car.

And oh, JIM.  You know like how I could pretend that "Crime Aid" was a pretty good episode of an inferior show, as opposed to a pretty good episode generally?  I can't even pretend that here.  This is like a lame...soulless, web series.  Not like webisodes; those have heart when they're not starring Kevin.  This is just sad.  Even Dwight is getting one over on Jim.  Without even trying.  

Michael Scott Paper Company: The new credits were actually really cool, though, and would be even if I wasn't so completely fixated on the picture of Jim on Pam's desk.  Which is less adorable than this picture, but I'll take what I can get.  Beyond that, this episode just seems designed to CRUSH BENEATH A BOOT the hopes of anyone who loved Pam working in reception and wants to see her back there someday (never mind the horrible awkwardness for Jim & his "rundown").  If I didn't have Ryan's endless stream of insults to keep my blood pressure steady, I don't know what I'd do.  Truest statement ever made: "P is not as much fun without Jim."

WHATEVER.  A KISS IN THE PARKING LOT DOES NOT MAKE UP FOR THINGS, SHOW.  I AM NOT THAT EASY ANYMORE.

Heavy Competition: I don't even want to know how long they practiced the cheese-puff-throwing, because I will just pop a blood vessel with rage at how much time was wasted on something so infuriatingly stupid to watch.  Maybe if Pam wasn't part of it I could deal, but she is and I can't

Although I'm still very fond of Jim messing with Andy all day ("I'm pretty emotionally needy") and will not in any way argue with a) Jim & Pam sharing an opening scene, or b) Jim's final warning that he and Pam are very happy, and...nah, I don't need to remember the rest.  Also, Michael being competent and/or skilled at his job is welcome, but not interesting in the grand scheme of things.

Broke: I am not going to repeat the boner joke.  It can serve no possible purpose, just know it's there, Future Self, and concentrate on the sleepy goodbye kiss on the Halpert doorstep/killing the writers with your eyes for not giving up stuff like this while we still cared. 

In other news, GOD, MICHAEL BEING COMPETENT AND/OR SKILLED AT HIS JOB JUST GOT AMAZING, not least because Charles finally got fed up with Dwight while Jim was competent and skilled at his job, and it was brilliance all around.  ALSO there was an adorable Jim/Pam scene complete with reassurance and a cheek kiss followed by Jim generally being a hero and FOR ONE EPISODE, I ALMOST STOPPED THE HATE.   [Edit: In retrospect?  Yeah, this is actually head and shoulders above the rest of the arc.  In fact, Erin is literally the only thing wrong with it.]

Until Michael negotiated past the $60,000 and secured jobs for them instead, yet did not insist that Erin be let go as one of the terms.  Come on! I know we're all lawsuit happy and stuff, but I don't think it's wrongful termination if you simply dislike a person, unless her job was contracted for a specific minimum amount of time.  Even if it was, I bet she doesn't even know the phrase "wrongful termination."  She's like 22 and her head is filled with air.  GET RID OF HER, DAMMIT.

+ I think I need an "Idiot" ring tone, and my phone doesn't even let you have customized ring tones.

Casual Friday: Dear Phyllis, you are at least 15-20 years older than Pam; stop trying to steal her wardrobe.  Then again, that purple checker pattern wasn't very cute; maybe my old frenemy Pammy is at fault.  Look, I don't hate this episode anywhere near as much as THE ENTIRE INTERNET - MSPC was much worse - but I'm still mad at for teasing me with firing Erin again

Just, not as mad as I could be since everyone's casual clothes are almost as good as their Halloween costumes (take that as you will), and there are ample amounts of Toby (who was in the seminary!!!  Unfortunately he got married to someone evil and ruined his life.  But at least he got an adorable daughter out of it).  TOBY ROCKS MY WORLD when he's not stalking Pam!

Also Jim steals the spotlight through sneaky heroics again, narrowly securing Pam's job in sales despite almost losing it for refusing to name any of her negative qualities, and I get to convince myself of the truthiness of the idea that Pam gets "a bit" shrill when overtired.  Win/win/win!  And Phyllis is apparently willing to insult Pam whenever Ryan falls behind on the job, so all in all this vicarious frustration-venting is helpful.

By the way, something worries me: Dwight doesn't have his horse shot until the last episode, so why does he already have a pony-meat sandwich??

The bottom line: Still mad that after jerking me around for like 3 months re: Jim/Pam, until I was so ticked off I stomped away, then they decided to amp it up a notch and liberally pour, or at least sprinkle it, in every stupid episode.  God, I can't believe how much I want to bludgeon this show with a blunt instrument.  My title lyric is very, very apt...someone should probably inject me with a finale-shaped sedative right about now.  

Are there any Jim/Pam deleted scenes from any of the above eps I should see?  Otherwise I'm just going to be lazy and wait to watch 'em until I get the DVDs at Christmas. 

P.S. I desperately hope someone is saving the whole Ryan vs. Kelly Twitter fight.  I am lazy right now, but I do not want that thing to be lost when the official site ditches it.
===============
In other Office news, to combat the less-than-perfect results of the OfficeTally Survivor Poll, I've finished my own ranking of season 5, in order of best to worst.  Also resisting my urge to explicate the hell out of all this up front...

1. Stress Relief
2. Customer Survey
3. Weight Loss
[at long last, the battle for Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze has been decided!]
4. Golden Ticket
5. Lecture Circuit (counting as one, because it seems meant to be that way, and I'd have ranked them next to each other anyway)
6. Business Trip 
7. Frame Toby
8. The Surplus
9. Company Picnic (how the hell'd you climb this high, end-of-season episode?  Was it just for Jim/Pam?  It was?)
10. Employee Transfer ("Halpert Bros. Episode")
11. Broke
12. Casual Friday
13. Blood Drive
14. Crime Aid
15. Cafe Disco (wow, Pam in a pink dress can overcome a lot)
16. New Boss
17. The Duel
18. Two Weeks
19. Baby Shower (why are you not in the bottom 5?  Ending phone messages too cute?  Yep.)
20. Heavy Competition
21. Dream Team
22. The Michael Scott Paper Compay (God, I hated this like burning - am surprised there are still worse episodes)
23. Business Ethics
24. Moroccan Christmas
25. Prince Family Paper

Anyone else want to share top 3/bottom 3?  I feel like everything else in my list could always be reshuffled a bit, but I'm very firm about those; I figure some of you are sure of yours as well.
 

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