'The Office': 'Andy's Play' is surprisingly good

the-office-andys-play-320.jpgThat's three solid episodes of "The Office" in a row to start the season. Looks like the cast and crew weren't joking around when they said knowing this is Steve Carell's final season has energized them.

What was nice about "Andy's Play" was that the titular production -- "Sweeney Todd" -- was handled pretty respectfully. Yes, it was community theater, but until Andy's phone started chirping in Act 2, the production looked like it was going, in Michael's words, "exactly awesome."

Other than his booing of Darryl's plumber after the final curtain, Michael managed to hide his bitterness at not being cast. Yes, he interrupted the play with the clanking wine bottle and the ill-considered balloons, but those were the result of him being careless, not malicious. And well, he has no control over Erin.

It was also nice to watch the Dunder Mifflin crew actually, genuinely be happy for Andy and his performance. Andy is very often a giant boob, but this meant something to him, and that's cool. (Less cool: Andy's rendition of Macy Gray's "I Try" when the gang asked him for another song.)

And we've said this before, but it bears repeating: Ed Helms is maybe the most fearless performer working on TV today. He's got a pretty decent singing voice too, which he finally got to show off for something more than "rit-dit-dit-di-doo."

The good vibes around the community theater performance make the glossing over of the Dwight-Angela subplot that much easier. If this leads to them realizing that they're actually, in a particularly twisted way, exactly right for each other, then that's something we can probably get behind. But sex punchcards aside, the baby-contract stuff has gotten a little tired.

Still, though, lots of good stuff tonight. Including:

- Darryl shushing Michael during the overture: "If we don't listen to the overture, we won't recognize the musical themes when they come back later."
- Andy on the power of Theatre: "No woman can resist a man singing show tunes. Even a lot of men can't resist a man singing show tunes."
- Erin's excitement over "getting into the babysitting game" -- "The 13-year-olds in this town have a complete monopoly. It's almost like a babysitters' club."
- Ryan taking time-telling to levels of d-baggery previously unknown to mankind, thanks to the iPad.
- Creed the drama critic.
- And Michael explaining to Andy why his performance was "exactly awesome": "I didn't say that to make you feel good. I just said it. Total integrity."
- And also, Michael's audition, consisting of a full "Law & Order" episode.

We like where "The Office" has been this season -- so much so that we want to see more of "Andy's Play." Check Zap2it for some exclusive deleted scenes after the West Coast broadcast of the show.

What did you think of "Andy's Play," and of Andy's play?

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Photo credit: NBC