Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.
That is me, binder clips, standing on my desk and giving Mindy Kaling a slow ovation for penning the best ''Office'' eps of the season. Both parts of ''Lecture Circuit'' were nearly perfect, and if we were to take them together — oh, if only NBC had aired them as one! Like maybe after the Super Bowl! — they'd easily constitute the finest hour-long episode in this show's history. She nailed the characterizations, the interactions, the tossed-off one-liners, the weird-yet-realistic scenarios...I wonder how much it helps that she's out on the acting floor every day, getting attuned to her costars' rhythms? Her ear for tone is damn impressive, something she proved with the first scene in the break room, as a more-chipper-than-usual Angela entered to announce she'd sold Andy's engagement ring on Ebay to buy the newest member of her family, a $7000 hypo-allergenic third-generation show cat named Princess Lady. ''Seven thousand dollars? I could get you a kid for that,'' said Creed. ''I gotta see that little bitch,'' said Meredith. It was a little slice ofOffice heaven, and not just for the Meet the Parents reference.
Even better was the way this script vessel was so structurally sound: All three plotlines tonight were delivered with wonderfully equal importance, with no dead weight to throw overboard. The arrival of Princess Lady dominated the accountant corner, as they crowded around Angela's cat-cam, now streaming live over an Internet near you. (Well, an imaginary Internet. Oh, if only NBC had a real cat-cam set up somewhere!) Since she can't take kitty maternity leave — one wonders about Dunder Mifflin's human maternity policy, which is apparently generous enough to compel Meredith to pop out her second kid just to get the time off — she's got web video streaming into her computer to keep an eye on her brood. This certainly seemed like a good idea when she caught that orange rascal Mr. Ash violating poor Princess Lady's personal space, so to speak, even though Mr. Ash is allegedly fixed. (''I know fixed,'' said Meredith. ''That ain't fixed.'') But when Angela rushed home to deal with the inappropriate behavior, the cat-cam quickly became bad idea jeans; after all, it's perhaps not best to let your coworkers see you grooming your pets with, you know, your tongue. Oscar was particularly upset, especially when his coworker got back from her long lunch and coughed up a hairball. Frankly, I find it hard to believe it's the first time that's happened. In fact, I'm surprised she's never pulled that one cat out of the file cabinet and started licking it at her desk. Unless maybe that one's not hypo-allergenic. I dunno. Anyway, with that many felines crawling about, I kind of don't blame Dwight for putting one in the freezer. Just sayin'.