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Funny story: turns out I liked Sex and the City 2 more than the first one.

I didn't expect I would, given how it was universally slammed. I actually almost didn't watch it at all -- I checked it out by default, and then remembered wait, the whole reason I didn't see it in theaters was because I didn't want to see it period, after I heard that spoiler about Carrie cheating on Big. But curiosity won out, and YAY!

The only real faults to this film are the eye/eye-scarring things involving Samantha -- I had enough warning to look away for most of them, but I caught one particularly horrific shot at the end that is going to take a long time and a lot of bleach to scrub out of my brain. Once we got past that incredibly dull wedding at the beginning, which almost made me turn it off, the rest flew by with nary a drag.

The most exciting part for me was SO MUCH LESS HARRY. The nanny doesn't even count as an eyeball-scarring thing; I just found that entertaining. I liked that there seemed to be more focus on the women in general, with no annoying Jennifer Hudson-type character. I thought the "wealth porn" scorned in at least one review I read was fabulous. Whatever offensive or stereotypical things were supposed to come of their Middle East adventures, I happily failed to see at all. I enjoyed Carrie's boring married life, and despite the trying bits of Nagging Bitch Wife tones at the beginning, it wasn't nearly as unbearable as the hissy fit she pitched before the wedding, the reasons for which I have already forgotten.

And the cheating I was so worried about? Haha! One easy kiss, not even a distasteful one (other than the sad effect of dampening the shine on Aidan's character, boo; dude, you were talking about your kids like five minutes ago, wtf is wrong with you), and they both quickly shut that nonsense down. And instead of lasting half a movie, the Carrie/Big rift was solved rather quickly and rather awesomely, and I went rather flaily at the way that was resolved. It may or may not have had the effect of making me enjoy the cheating -- Aidan always did come before Big, in my heart, prior to the finale -- if it was going to be wrapped up with such stellar forgiveness, black diamond rings and cute, very specific little vows for her to renew.

And, I don't know, I just pretty much liked everything else that happened with people who were not Samantha. The little bits with Miranda's family (just enough to enjoy, not enough for anything to go HORRIBLY WRONG), being able to feel bad for Charlotte despite the fact that she wants for very, very little in her super-privileged life, Smith showing up for a few minutes, Miley Cyrus making a scene with Samantha kind of fun, Guarau (more of him, please)...it was nice to have a trip that was 90% fun and didn't have a pall of DEPRESSION hanging over it.
[Charlotte's fretting doesn't count. That was just sweetly paranoid-neurotic.)

Scenes of Carrie and her husband (still with the squee!) cuddled up and watching old black and white movies are dominating my memories, though, so that might be responsible for the largest part of my positive reaction.

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And since I'm here, the spot of TV I managed to fit in yesterday amidst a worrying afternoon of tornado warnings that fortunately never touched our area once the ordinary thunderstorm blew through in the morning. Not quite enough time to fit the finale in now, but hopefully soon.

The Office, "The Inner Circle": Two cheers for a world without Michael Scott! I withheld one because I won't really know what paradise is like until the other patience-trying, eye-roll-inducing manchild has left the building. Can we skip to the part where he hit his head on concrete and died ended up hospitalized and struggling to form words in English? Because I had to rewind the dunk-n-crash bit about 15 times to fully savor the moment.

I liked the title plot in this episode solely because Jim was in it a lot. FYI, I'm still feeling Jim/Jordan. Seriously, though, I love Jordan. She's so wonderfully normal. And she has great hair. Can we keep her, please-please-please? I won't even ask to have her replace Erin. Can she replace Erin, though? She would be amazing to see at the reception desk. I would never want Pam to return there again.

Jim and Pam, right, that's a thing. I love their interaction in this, too, as evidenced by the fact that I was too enthralled to write anything in my notes except "JIM/PAM. ♥" Don't forget about the deleted scene where we find out Michael has a new Beagle puppy (!!! . . . !!!!!!!!!!!!!)  he apparently named Pamela Beagsley.

(P.S. PAM. WRITE YOUR SERIES OF YOUNG ADULT BOOKS. You know what the problem with YA fantasy is? Not enough pegasi. I would not hate this entire genre like I do if they were all about horses with wings -- and/or unicorns -- instead of werewolves and frickin' vampires, sparkly or otherwise.)

Other people who were in this episode a lot: RYAN! And KELLY! Lighting up my life with their hilariously twisted and unhealthy relationship and Kelly's unlikely ability to gain an upper hand of sorts ("And I am also a very dutiful boyfriend when--" / "All the time." / "All the time.") Just for them, I am willing to forget the excessive focus on Elf and declare this one of the better episodes of the year.

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Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager: Hey, there's the missing cheer (Elf can just die in that coma, for all I care). With at least five more for good measures, as the only parts of that I did not love were the unnecessary Kevin-is-an-idiot closing tag, the unnecessary and creepy and gross Kevin-is-an-idiot back massage, and...that's about it. I would have shaved several extraneous seconds and a few stray lines off Andy's appearance, but at least he was important to the B-plot starring Gabe.  

(Oh, Gabe. Why is it so impossible for people to love you? I want such nice things for you that will not result in you sobbing about how much you miss Erin and can't be alone*.  Come on, Erin. Gabe doesn't believe in Christmas and he sure as hell doesn't believe in God -- well, maybe he does, there's no way to know actually -- but he believes in them. I know he's been watching a few too many Grey's Anatomy reruns, but he's really trying to get the Sweeping Speech right)

*That, and I respond well to strong leadership. So eardrum-bursting shouts of "NO!" really sit up and make me take notice).

So much to love in this episode. No Michael, no Elf, it was the paradise of which I have always dreamed. Jim and his attempt to hide in the car/stall for time with a talking head until interrupted by Pam. Jim and his social club ("I hate when everybody calls us a rebellion."). Jim and his incessant level of subtle but persistent Dwight-baiting, with a touch of kindness at the end. In conclusion, Jim. That's mostly what I remember about this.

Oh, and bonus, Dwight's pet piranha (it was a rescue) (and *amazing* at freaking out Kevin; hahaha!). I am really enjoying this trend of having the opening credits change to reflect a shot of the new boss in each one. And Jo! Immediately confused and worried about why Jo's dogs have changed from Danes to Collies, though. Rather than believe in a horrible world where she actually exchanged them, I will content myself with the idea that they were older dogs and succumbed to some of the many illnesses/injuries that shorten giant dogs' lifespans, hence why the new dogs are just puppies. Or, or! Happier thought, probably she just has tons of dogs and takes different ones on different trips, and these new puppies need more socializing.

[Edit: writer Q&A theorizes she has several pairs of dogs for various circumstances. K, I can deal with that.]

Jordan is still here! Stay, stay, stay, please stay forever. I vaguely remember hearing casting spoilers about hiring an assistant, and I default-hated the very notion, but I already like her more than half the existing cast despite the fact that she's had like five lines and zero character development.

Can we go back to the part where Dwight (accidentally) fired a gun in the office? Holy *#&%! Yeah, like there aren't fifteen different ways I am going to change up that scenario in my head, starting with the short and self-gratifying dream version where the bullet goes into Andy's head, and ending with more complex fic ideas of injuries to more likable people.  

And who doesn't love Toby being practically giddy about getting to fill out a brand-new kind of accident report?

+ lots of other assorted stuff that I can't remember; there was too much to keep track of, and I'm too impatient to get to the finale. Considering I was dreading going back to this show so much I actually had to force myself to open it up, on the promise that I could write a 2-line review if I just sat through it, I'm quite pleased with the 11th-hour turnabout. 2nd/3rd best of the season, this one.

[EDIT: Wait, I found my notes. Here are some bonus deleted thoughts:
1. GABE. ♥ 
(Shut your face, Andy. Don't you give the camera Jim looks.)

2. Really? The first time Erin's brain has worked, and it's for ANDY? I just can't believe her tiny brain connected the sight of a gun + a loud sound equalling a gunshot, and am even less willing to believe she then went right to the potentially-injured person, instead of spinning around in circles like Simple Dog and then falling down and twitching from the overload of brain activity.

3. Dwight threatened to burn this office to the ground! It has been way too long since he threatened to burn a place to the ground, you know? It was even before he actually tried to burn this place to the ground. ] 

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