The Office 12/3

This has been my favorite show since inception, though I approached it with some trepidation after developing such an appreciation for the original version. But I digress.

Has the show finally jumped the shark? This episode was practically unwatchable. Michael has gotten into some bad situations but this one is too unbelievable to work. The logistics involved in providing tuition for a group of students would have resulted in Michael getting found out long before now. And from a standpoint of character development it doesn’t work. Michael isn’t supposed to be a sympathetic character exactly, but the audience is to forgive his faults (to a point) in observation of his innate innocence and kindness. But this mistake is too large to ever overlook. It may be too late for many of these students to secure funding at this point. He may have ruined their lives, at least in part. (They have responsibilities too.)

Pam has already changed to a completely different and far less likeable character, and I guess I can live with that. But now they have moved on to Jim. When did he turn so stupid? Dwight is able to outwit him. Really? He didn’t check to see who might be the Employee of the Month before announcing it? He didn’t just chastise the crew for giving money to Dwight? It doesn’t make sense. Any relatively together person would have seen through the plan from the start, and even if they didn’t they would have been able to easily explain how the whole thing was put together by Dwight. So now Jim has completely changed too. He is an idiot.

I’ve gone back and started watching my DVDs of season 1. It is an entirely different show; a much better one. It’s more a farce now. I guess all good things must come to an end. I wish they would at least be true to the characters though.

It seems every week when we have an Office thread somebody always chimes in with “This was the worst episode I’ve ever seen.” I’ve never been one of those people…
until this week.
I won’t say I had any particular hate for it but it certainly didn’t give me any reason to like it. Where was the funny? Dwight pulls a prank but it’s not even a funny prank. Michael gets himself into a tight situation and has to squirm his way out of it… and… nothing funny happens. Creed’s usual funny one liner was so unfunny that I don’t even remember what it was.
I hope they snap back with a good episode next week.

I found it awkward and unwatchable. I do, however, like that they brought back Dwight’s pen.

I did like Michael’s Elvis line:

I’ve been watching the older shows lately, when the sexual tension was still part of the story and Michael was just a moronic office manager. They were consistently better episodes than the past couple of seasons. The show ran its course when they married off Pam and Jim (or possibly before). NBC needs to wake up before they’re relegated to the cellar.

They are in a fairly ungraceful transition phase with the show. The major plot lines involving Jim (pending promotion/ relationship with Pam) have been resolved, Michael has no romantic foil to fall back on, so we are witness to his ineptitude, and Pam’s plots are worked through.

Right now, it seems like they are working the Dwight (and now Ryan) versus Jim angle pretty hard, a people vs mgmt story arc, and the tribulations of Jim being a rookie manager in a branch office that he should not be managing. Michael needs some new longer term arc, he is in filler mode right now.

Unfortunately, the other minor characters have not been developed enough to really run a longer arc on, unless they want to do an Andy/ new receptionist thing.

On the Michael front from last night, I can see a young MG Scott thinking he is a “master of the universe” in training, and making that promise with full intention of follow through, not realizing that if he fails, it will destroy those kids.

On the Jim as a dumbass front- not exactly dumb, but prone to influence easily. He has failed at so many tasks so far, he is eager to try anything to get the staff on his side, so he doesn’t flesh out ideas well. Dwight may not be the most well cultured pearl, but he knows how to manipulate people, and he knows Jim inside and out from spending so much time with him.

Aside from his time at the CT branch, Jim has not worked under a great manager before either, so he has no real training in being an effective manager. It’s uncomfortable to watch him struggle because he was so likeable before, and no one likes to see their favorites fail.

Yeah, there was no real payoff in the Micheal tuition story.

Jim was way too dumb. Even if he had been tricked he should have been easily able to explain what happened.

And why is Michael treating Erin so badly all the sudden? I was happy to see a lot of her though, she’s cute.

Funny. I thought that the cold opening was one of the worst I saw.

That being said, I thought the A story for the episode was pretty bad - but honestly, I also thought it was closest in style to the UK Office of any episode I’ve seen in years. FTR, I didn’t like the UK office…

However, I thought that the B story with Dwight and Jim was actually really good. Dwight outwitted Jim. Why is that so surprising? Jim is weak-willed and in no way a good manager. Dwight manipulated that and stuck it to him.

Dwight expecting it to get Jim fired, however, was a little much.


Dwight, checking watch: “Five minutes early. Right on schedule!”

I thought they actually had a really nice bonding scene in the car at the end.

Yeah, he was just being a dick to Erin because he was mad that Pam wouldn’t come along and be his babysitter any more. Just childish acting out.


This has to be the worst episode ever. It was pointless and no one, except perhaps Michael, acted like their character. Saying they’re completely different people from the earlier seasons should be a given, but these characters are even completely different from what they were last season! The side characters used to be quirky and charming, but in this episode they were grotesque, with nothing to redeem them.

Only two things were good about this episode: Stanley’s laugh, and that sweet moment when Erin and Michael bonded on the car ride.

Best line of the night.

It was tough to like this ep. Having both of these storylines on the same show. Michael has always been, for the most part, cluelessly goofy but not dangerous. There’s no way around the fact that he ruined a bunch of people’s lives.

Dwight calling corporate with the imitations was pretty funny. I don’t think that was him doing Stanley, though…

The repitition made it even better: “Five minutes ahead of schedule. Right on schedule.”

Devil’s advocate: He kept at least one kid out of the drug trade, and he greatly improved the graduation rate for that group of kids. False hope is a pretty evil thing to be giving, but it worked (up to the point that they’ll be immediately going to college - unless they apply for student aid or wait a year and collect the scholarships that would certainly be coming to a group of talented under-priviledged kids that can’t afford college and show aptitude not only in their studies but in extracurricular activities).

As someone who used to work in college financial aid I can tell you that scholarships like that are hard to come by, it isn’t a certainty at all that even good students who are under-priviledged would get enough in scholarship money to pay for even one year of college. Loans may be available to them, but big scholarships are next to impossible to secure. There are plenty of little piddly scholarships they would qualify for, but most require the jumping through so many hoops they preclude the possibilty of amassing enough of them to make a dent in the cost of college. These kids are totally screwed. Many may lose their spot in the schools they were accepted to. They are partially at fault too of course. A prepared student has everything ready by mid-junior year, with plenty of back-up plans for screw ups like this.

I loved it. My second favorite episode of the season behind the wedding episode. Loved Michael’s storyline, particularly how he handled it, and loved Dwight getting one over on Jim.

I enjoyed it as well. The build up of Michael possibly redeeming a small fraction of respect by pulling out laptops for everyone, and then just smashing his image with laptop batteries was brilliant.

And frankly, I think it’s more unrealistic for the office staff to have reacted the way they did to the Employee of the Month thing. Managers are never a part of that equation, and Jim’s inclusion was clearly a mistake.

No, not the worst episode ever, but perhaps a clue that they could use some fresh ideas.

I didn’t love the tuition plot, but it had its moments. When Michael finally stepped to the podium to face the music, I think Steve Carrell pulled it off superbly. I believed him as a guy who truly wanted to do something good but got in over his head, as opposed to just a moron who did something stupid. The scene with Erin in the car was sweet. And Stanley’s outright joy at Michael’s predicament was funny as well.

The employee-of-the-month plot was a bit clumsily executed, but did help to reinforce the theme of Jim’s struggles as a manager and set up a new arc with Dwight and Ryan teaming up against Jim, which could prove interesting.

Dwight’s impressions were not only the best part of the episode, but maybe the whole season. His Kevin was dead on. (And I choose to believe that Rainn did all the voices himself!)

Yeah, I don’t think it’s the worst ever, but it’s DEFINITELY proof that they need to come up with some sort of angle for the show.

Michael’s plot was pretty in-character. Of COURSE he would assume he’d be rich enough to pay for them. It’s hard to believe that it got that far without anybody checking up on the viability, though. It would have been okay if it was implied that it was just something he said years ago and had hoped everybody had forgotten about, but the implication that he’s been visiting these kids for years makes it a lot harder to swallow.

The in-office plot could have been a cute one, but Jim’s inability to handle it was just awful.