Let us be among the first to acknowledge some lingering warm and fuzzy feelings from the birth of Pam and Jim's daughter in Thursday night's episode.
Let us also express our happiness that "The Office" writers chose not to take any inspiration from Mork and Mindy's giant egg-shaped delivery of a "baby" Jonathan Winters (the original Benjamin Button) and focused instead on the vagaries of draconian health insurance policies and the challenges of breast feeding.
All that being said, is it too much to ask that Cecelia Marie Halpert disappear now in the manner of most sitcom babies, allowing us to focus on Kevin's quest for a new lunch buddy and Dwight and Angela's efforts to "bang it out"? As far as Andy finally manning up and asking Erin out, we give that a shrug and an unenthusiastic, 'Meh.'
We're not sure this episode needed to be stretched to a full hour, but at least it had a few quirky cut-away scenes sprinkled in with the inevitable, "Pam goes into labor at the office and everyone drops everything to bear witness to the blessed event" plot line.
Outraged at Pam and Jim's ability to clinch some sympathy sales as they talk to clients about Pam's pregnancy, Dwight decides he needs his own baby to exploit. It doesn't take much for him to convince his former side order, Angela, to agree to bear him a child, as soon as they dot all the "i's, j's and umlauts" in their birthing contract.
Poor Kevin thought he had found a soul mate in pregnant Pam, who shared his love of second breakfasts, second lunches and early dinners. And who wouldn't want to take part in Kevin's movie-themed "Ultrafeast," featuring a Tandoori Chicken inspired by "Born into Brothels" and a prawn-shaped cake inspired by "District 9"?
He probably lost her, though, during the office brainstorming session on ways to avoid inducing labor when he suggested that the opposite of eating spicy food was to stick spicy food up her moneymaker.
And why was Pam so intent on working the full day despite full-on contractions? Because their insurance covers only two nights at the hospital for a delivery, she didn't want to burn one of those nights by going to the hospital before midnight. (If only Obama could have shown this episode to the Republicans during last week's health-care summit ...)
So Jim is left jumping out of his skin, pleading with Pam to go to the hospital as the contractions get closer and closer. Even when her water breaks, though, she just changes into some comfy jeans and tries to ride out the pain at work.
Eventually, the pain wins out, and Pam and Jim tear off to the hospital, with Dwight briefly planting a siren atop his lead car before getting pulled over for impersonating a law-enforcement officer. Again.
Blessedly, we're spared any footage of Cecelia's birth, although Michael is unwittingly stumbles in to the delivery room mid-push, leaving him tramautized.
"I'm going to go wash my eyes," he says, staggering out. "That kid's going to have a lot of hair."
Hysterical Pam dispatches Dwight to her home to pick up the
iPod she forgot there. Apparently, she has a special birthing playlist
she needs, and the "8 Mile" soundtrack on Jim's iPod won't cut it.
Why this plot threads ends with Dwight ripping out the cabinets in
Jim and Pam's kitchen to eradicate mold, I don't know. I'm still
washing my eyes out at the sight of bottomless Dwight waking up from an
under-the-covers nap in Jim and Pam's bed.
The delivery must have taken longer than expected, because it fouls up Andy's plan to deliver a framed copy of the local newspaper the day Cecelia is born. Because she is born a day later than anticipated, he's going to have to scrap the hilariously awful Scranton newspaper with a "Spring has sprung" weather story anchoring the front page with the next day's "Scranton Strangler Strikes Again."
(Speaking as the employee of a newspaper that has had to fill the occasional slow news day with a trite weather display or two, trust me: You'll take the Strangler over the happy weather photo every time.)
Cecelia's early struggles to latch on to Pam to breast feed leads to an uncomfortable visit — for Jim — from the hospital's lactation consultant, who happens to be a man. Understandably, Jim's not crazy about this guy flicking Pam's nipples, but it beats Jim's suggestion that she just start pumping out the milk with some shoulder thrusts.
Jim offers to twist Pam's knobs himself after the lactation consultant leaves, but she tells him that would be too weird. Weirder than accidentally breastfeeding the newborn baby of the woman sleeping in the bed next to you, Pam?
The less said about Michael's goofy quest to play matchmaker for Kevin and Erin the better. But his clueless quest produces two Office-worthy quotes as he offers to deliver to other Dunder-Mifflin drones the love that he cluelessly believes he set up for Pam and Jim:
"Who wants to live in a world where Stanley has two lovers, and you have none?" (Not surprisingly, Stanley raises his hand.)
and, "Let's fill that empty hole in your body with another person."
Either way, it doesn't sound like a baby-friendly environment. Let's hope "The Office" keeps the baby out of sight and gets back to whatever humor it can still find in the quest to sell printers and toner cartridges.