‘Office’ kicks off hilarious fifth season

Kevin Speirs

After a sub-par fourth season muddled by the writer’s strike, “The Office” returned Sept. 25 with its season premiere.

Last season saw “The Office” plummeting toward becoming a generic sitcom, filled with gimmicks and catch phrases – a shadow of its former self. The finale ended on a high note, but the show wasn’t quite at the level it once was.

The premiere gave viewers a positive outlook for the rest of the season, but there is still the risk of a return to its fourth-season status.

About four minutes in, Dwight says, “Hold it in your mouth if you can’t swallow,” a perfect opportunity for Michael Scott’s classic “That’s what she said” joke.

The joke was acknowledged but never spoken – the first sign that “The Office” was not going to be filled with gimmicks, at least this time around.

The show kept up some classic themes that never seem to lose humor, like Michael’s awkward infatuation with Ryan, who returned as a temp worker.

After Ryan’s drug problem and firing, most thought that would be the last of his character, but he returned as a temp worker simply because Michael really likes him and even copied his new goatee.

Ryan is still a jerk but tried making amends with his co-workers.

New elements added also made a positive impact. Introduced last season as Toby’s replacement, Holly has an interesting relationship with Michael, giving viewers a similar romantic tension that Jim and Pam had for the first few seasons.

Additionally, still under the impression Kevin is mentally disabled, Holly confronted Angela when she was berating Kevin, resulting in one of the funniest moments of the show.

Although the premiere had plenty of positive moments, it did have its fair share of shortcomings. The most notable of these is the outrageous love triangle with Angela, Andy and Dwight.

Still engaged to Andy, Angela rendezvoused with Dwight in the warehouse, an almost soap opera-esque moment that doesn’t seem to fit the show at all.

Since last season’s “Dinner Party” episode, every scene with Jan has been nothing short of irritating.

She did make a short appearance, which if longer could have made the episode take a turn for the worse.

Even Dwight has become inconsistent. He would disrespect Michael one minute and fall back into his brown-nosing ways the next.

Some of Michael’s actions were also stretched too thin.

When Pam was leaving for New York, Michael wanted to say good-bye one last time and tumbled down the steps on his way out, which was a pathetic attempt at adding another joke.

Shortly thereafter, they redeemed themselves when Michael awkwardly went to kiss Pam goodbye.

The highlight of the show was when Jim finally proposed to Pam, a moment every “Office” watcher has waited for since the first season. Spontaneously, he met Pam at a gas station, dropped to his knee and collectively every viewer thought to themselves, “Yes!”

Overall, this episode was solid. After much of last season’s annoyances, strike – and show-related, the premiere was enough to keep everyone still waiting for 9 p.m. Thursday nights.

Last season left off with hope for a return to “The Office” of old, and the season premiere gave everyone a hint of gratification and hope for something even better.