'The Office': Birth of a baby, and a better health-care insurance-reform argument than Obama's?

As The Office proved with Pam and Jim’s wedding, the series knows how to make life-changing shifts for its characters work as both comedy and this self-conscious show’s version of sincerity. Last night managed to combine a thoroughly believable and funny central idea — that Pam would try to delay going to the hospital to get some extra time, gaming the office’s “stupid HMO” — with a batch of fine Michael scenes and a thoroughly didn’t-buy-it-for-a-second Dwight subplot. (I’m talking about his destruction of Pam’s kitchen, not his legal and binding child-bearing contract-making with Angela: that was totally Dwight-able.)

And so well before Cecilia Marie, all seven pounds, two ounces of her, arrived in Office world, we got to see Jim “frazzled” (John Krasinski always rises to a manic occasion), and Pam telling Michael after he announced he’d baby-proofed the office, “You know the baby isn’t going to live here, right?” Steve Carell’s crestfallen look was matched only by his Edward G. Robinson impersonation, smoking a big cigar in the hospital a few minutes after the baby’s birth.

Hour-long episodes are always a gamble, and the first half was a lot stronger than the second, and since the second was mostly about Jim, Pam, and the baby, I think we should all hope that Cecelia is going to be a good TV-baby and be heard-about but not seen very often as the rest of the season proceeds. I’m sure you saw the breast-feeding the wrong baby gag coming a bed-length away, but I loved Nurse Josie. That character was drawn precisely right: She was cheerful and efficient in the beginning, but had no patience for opinionated first-time parents (“Oh good — you know everything“). And I wonder whether Jim and Pam have double-handedly done more to help health-insurance reform than most of what President Obama has done, with their withering critique of the “stupid HMO”…

It’s kind of remarkable that, in an episode designed to showcase Pam and Jim while taking Dwight out of the office for a subplot (really, mold under the sink? Pam, even in her distracted state, not knowing it was very suspicious when he said he didn’t need a key to her house?), The Office used this week to put Andy and Erin on the dating path. Ed Helms has become one of the show’s greatest assets, and proved it in every brief scene, especially when he accidentally made Erin cry (congrats to Ellie Kemper for her quick mood-changes).

So one big bottom-line question here: How does the arrival of Jim and Pam’s kid change The Office? Does it become a workplace comedy with a playpen off in one corner, where Cecilia can be checked on by her parents and Uncle Creed? (Let’s all shudder at once.) I doubt the playpen will appear. Do you?

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  • Cassie

    I enjoyed reading your take on last night’s episode, Ken. I don’t think we will see much of the baby except for a rare appearence that fits into the story that they may be telling in that particular episode. Thankfully “The Office” is a workplace comedy and rarely has non-workplace episodes and therefore the baby will be in daycare while Jim and Pam are at work so if the writers do it right, and they often do, there should be little need for us to see the baby. But I would enjoy seeing an episode or two of Jim and Pam as parents. I thought John Krasinski was freat in the episode. He plays frazzled so great. Watch his performance in “It’s Complicated” to see more of his frazzled acting, he was great and made the movie for me!

    • Cassie

      I meant to say “great in the episode”, not freat:)

  • KPryde

    Loved this episode! i especilly loved Pam’s freakout about not being ready. I love when The Office has true moments of realisim.

    • Celia

      I loved that as well. Their trouble with breastfeeding, them basically getting thrown out of the hospital, Pam’s protectiveness, Jim freaking out, all of it was AMAZING and very realistic.
      The only extreme part was when Pam breastfed the wrong baby, but that was so freakin’ HILARIOUS!! I loved the whole episode.

  • Hope

    First

    • John

      Nope. Your not.

      • Anto

        If youve decided to wecolme a dog into your family, you may be considering buying a puppy from a breeder. While many potential canine guardians have heard about the horrors of puppy mills and backyard breeders, they mistakenly think that buying a puppy from a so-called responsible breeder is acceptable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    • Andrew M

      Fail you idiot.

    • Focker

      Fail. Enjoy your canceraids.

      • The Great Unwashed

        “Canceraids”. So wrong… yet so funny.

      • mel

        “Canceraids” is an AVClub thing. Wrong site.

  • Brigette

    I disagree that the first half was stronger than the second. I thought the stuff in the second half was some of the sweetest, most real moments we’ve ever seen on the show. But I agree, Dwight’s destruction of the kitchen was a little bit of a stretch. Overall though, awesome episode.

    • jmo

      I thought that at first too, but with Dwight being amish-ish or amish-like (weird word combos, I know) it occured to me that his kitchen rebuild was like a good ol fashion barn-raising. Maybe it was his version of child protecting the house.

  • Hope

    Dang it.. I thot I was first

    • John

      and no one cares.

    • skoal

      get back to work, you schlep.

      • Keys

        Thanks alot – your answer solved all my problems after sveearl days struggling

    • Gracelin

      You’re a real deep thkiner. Thanks for sharing.

  • Al

    I live in Canada and I can tell you the rules under the single payer system are even more restrictive. Every decision is made based on how much it costs. The problem with U.S. health care isn’t the level of care, it is the fact that not everyone has health insurance it and that those that have it can lose it.

    • jem

      I live in Canada too, and everyone I’ve known who had to be admitted into the hospital here had a much easier time than the American side of my family.

      I thought the show was good, but a little scattered. I expected more from the Andy/Erin story, since there has been so much lead-up.

      I have a TV blog, couchtimewithjill.blogspot.com – check it out and let me know what you thought of The Office last night!

    • lilymax

      I’m from Canada and I don’t think you really are. You have to be kidding about the restrictions.

  • Liddy

    Given the show is set in the workplace, I doubt we’ll see little Cecilia very often. In this case, it’s way more believable than the way Friends handled Emma.

    • Celia

      I don’t know. Jim and Pam are not very rich and daycare is expensive. I think they make take advantage of how casual The Office environment is and bring the baby to work with them.

  • Bug

    Really? Michael was “fine” in this episode? I thought Michael didn’t make sense at all in this episode. He has gone from selfish and arrogant to just plan sad. Him trying to mimic Jim while calming Pam down and then trying to take the moment of announcing the birth from Jim reeked of desperation.

    • isembard

      And “desperation” is a NEW attitude for Michael? Have you ever seen Michael Scott before?

    • JaySin420

      I agree, at this point Michael Scott and most of the cast might as well be animated the way they act.

      The only characters to EVER show any growth on this show are Jim and Pam, which is pathetic.

      Poor Oscar has been around forever and all we know about him is that he’s gay.

      • Nibby

        Great thinking! That realyl breaks the mold!

    • teresa

      Michael wants his own baby, that’s why his interest in Jim and Pam’s.
      I watched the show with my 18 year old daughter. We laughed and laughed. It was a funny show. One of the best.

  • Jason

    I actually though Dwight had one of the best scenes of the night when him and his cohorts (was that Mose?) were rocking out to heavy metal and smashing the cabinets with sledgehammers.

  • Rob Grizzly

    Pam trying to delay the pregnancy was pushed to unbelievability. Especially when her water broke, and fairly believable characters like Oscar or Toby don’t step up and say maybe you should go to the hospital.
    But the second hour was a return to form for Jim and Pam as a couple. Jim in particular was very strong, esp in the scenes with the lactation coach!
    I also like about everything with Dwight, esp. when he got pulled over by the police

    • Dave

      People were telling her to go to the hospital left and right. The reason for her delay was later shown to not be for HMO reasons but because of her anxiety about the birth. Don’t see the problem…

      • isembard

        Agree. It was very believable.

      • Marla

        agree with Dave 100%.

      • Celia

        I agree as well. I would not be in hurry to push a human out of my vagina. And it’s not like they’re pregnancy was planned. It all happened very suddenly, so of course she was scared.

  • JC

    Loved Jim in this episode. John needs an emmy already!!!!

  • Andrea

    The entire pregnancy story line has bored me to tears this season. Jim and Pam used to be so funny and playful but now they are uptight and sappy.

    • ger

      No, that’s just you.

    • MSR

      Uptight, sappy? Seriously? They just keep getting funnier as the season progresses.

  • jmo

    I thought Dwight’s sub-plot regarding the kitchen rebuild was totally Dwight. For me, it was his version of a good ol’ fashion barn-raising.

    • Lala

      I thought it was totally Dwight also. He probably made the new kitchen furniturehimself. Who could forget Mose’s table making demonstration in season four??

      • Mircea

        OqgSPD Ppl like you get all the brains. I just get to say thanks for he answer.

    • Lala

      I thought it was totally Dwight also. He probably made the new kitchen furniture himself. Who could forget Mose’s table making demonstration in season four??

  • Brian

    “That baby is going to have a lot of hair.”

    Classic Michael Scott line!

  • diane

    Two best lines of the show…
    “This baby will have LOTS of hair!” and “Wait, I have a shirt like that in my car…” I LOVE this show! : )

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