This week The Office returned to its half hour format, which is a good thing considering I don’t think I could have handled thirty more minutes of laughing as much as I did during “Business Ethics”, an episode automatically ranking as one of the best Office episodes to date.
There isn’t a weak scene to be found during “Business Ethics”, landing one knock after another to the funny bone. Considering there weren’t many quiet spots, there were a whole lot of highlights. Michael and Holly’s rendition of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”, changed to Let’s Get Ethical, leads right into Ryan’s candid talk about what got him demoted, which involved hooking up with a girl whom he describes as looking like a chick off the sixth season of Survivor (a TV reference Dwight totally gets), which then jumps to Dwight’s veiled jab toward Andy when he answers a hypothetical question regarding stealing bread to feed your family with the absurd and oh so very Dwight answer of “False, it’s a trick question. The bread is poison and it’s not you’re real family: You’ve been cuckolded by a stronger, smarter male.” The whole episode is relentless with its comic pacing, and provides a perfect example of how to take the ensemble of a fairly long running show and use all their quirks, histories, and relationships with each other to craft a nearly flawless twenty plus minutes of comic gold.
Possibly the funniest scene of the episode, and maybe the most laugh out loud worthy one in seasons, was between Jim and Dwight. The setup for it begins in the ethics meeting, where Holly lets everyone know that wasting time is a form of stealing, just as bad as taking money. Well, Jim sets out to prove Dwight wastes time just like everyone else, so he gets out his stopwatch and goes to town. He times Dwight’s yawns, his sneezes and when things get boring he incites Dwight into talking and then times that as well. Then, the main event: Jim goes to Andy and starts talking about Battlestar Galactica, a well known passion of Dwight’s that is so good anyone not watching is, in his own words, an idiot. Jim calls the aliens on the show Klingons rather than Cylons, says it’s a shot-for-shot remake, and calls the main character Dumbledore Callrizzion, all while Dwight is gnashing his teeth and wanting oh so badly to stand up and set the record straight. But every time he flinches, Jim flashes the stopwatch. You can almost hear the nerdish fanboy rant he would have given if he had the chance, but he restrains himself and manages not to stop working for the rest of the day–even resorting to peeing in an empty soda bottle rather than waste time going to the bathroom. He finally slips up for 19 minutes and change when he meets Angela for some afternoon delight, proving to Jim he’s at least a little bit human.