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The Office

The Office is a comedy set in a paper sales company Dunder Mifflin. Shot in a mockumentary style the show follows the exploits of regional manager Michael Scott whose excruciating behaviour can make life difficult for his fellow employees. NBC 2005-???

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Episode 14 - Lecture Circuit (1)

27 March 2012

 

Synopsis: David Wallace asks Michael to visit the other branches and share his sales secrets success. Pam goes along as his driver and assistant. First stop is Utica which is Karen Filippelli’s branch. Michael’s lecture is not well received. Karen is married and pregnant and Pam is pleased to get closure on their former love triangle with Jim. Michael decides that he wants closure with Holly. Back at the office we learn that after Phyllis blackmailed Angela, Michael made Jim and Dwight joint heads of the party planning committee. They are equally annoyed about this and manage to forget Kelly’s birthday. Andy tries to hit on one of Stanley’s clients and manages to lose the account.

The Good: This is a pretty funny episode as Jim and Pam are very well paired as straight “men” for Michael and Dwight.

Michael’s behaviour is very consistent with his incredibly self absorbed world view. He has no empathy to be able to imagine that Karen has moved on with her life. All he can think of is what he knows about her and that of course means her relationship with Jim (see Comic Highlight). In a nice moment this tunnel vision does unwittingly expose Pam for wearing lots of makeup so that she looks good in front of Karen. And when Karen and Pam do clear the air and get some closure Michael can’t help but pass comment and leans into the camera as if it’s a nature documentary and confides “Old hatreds dissolve into new friendships – it’s a really wonderful moment.” And seeing Pam get closure makes Michael think of himself and his relationship with Holly. Which in typically thoughtless fashion he describes as “What you and Jim have times a hundred.” Still Pam knows that Holly was good for him and so sets up an intriguing part two for this story as they head for Nashua.

The lecture circuit story is a logical follow up on the revelation that Scranton is the most successful branch at the moment (511). Pam insisting on saying that they stay in separate rooms was a nice touch after Michael claimed that that went without saying. In the British Office the lecture idea was rinsed for every awkward, uncomfortable, pathetic moment that could be gained from it. I’m glad that we didn’t get ten minutes of that and at least Michael’s prejudiced, rude behaviour (with his pneumonic memory ideas) are consistent with his thoughtless character.

The Office has done a pretty good job this season with their opening jokes and this week was no exception with Michael discovering the PA function on his phone. It definitely fits his character (see 206 for example) and provides a neat punch line to role into the credits.

Over to Dwight and Jim and their mutual disdain for party planning is a very plausible way to get some good odd couple humour out of them. It definitely fits their past behaviour to (see 407 and 506) find these tasks a chore and overlook Kelly. In small doses Kelly can be a really funny character. Her conclusion to no one remembering her birthday is that “sometimes people are really mean to the hot popular girl.” And I also liked that Phyllis sabotaged them by not telling them it was Kelly’s birthday because she wants to be back running the committee.

The real fun starts once they start trying to put the party together. Dwight’s very practical, dull way of approaching fun is in full bloom with “It is your birthday” for a sign and barely inflated balloons of brown and grey because “They match the carpet.” Later when Jim calls Dwight to ask how old Kelly is to which Dwight suspiciously answers “Who is this?” Then in classic Dwight fashion (in an interview with the camera) he says “I have here Kelly Kapoor’s personal and confidential file. Allow me to share…” His delivery is once more very good as he sounds so proud of his self righteous invasion of privacy.

Andy setting off two car alarms while trying to see what CDs Juliet had in her car was a nice joke. It made sense for money conscious Stanley to trade her for two of Andy’s clients. I suppose Andy’s story also made the ironic point that he loses an account (by being so unprofessional and foolish) while Michael is out teaching others how to be successful.

The Bad: There are however several problems with Andy’s story. For a start I find it difficult to laugh at someone who admits before he embarrasses himself that he is struggling with “crippling despair, loneliness and depression.” Then we have his beyond awkward and obvious come-ons to Juliet. They are so pathetic and transparent that it is difficult to feel sorry for him. I found it sad that Oscar refused to help Andy out after Andy tried to help him hit on guys when they were away together (in 507).

Although I’m glad that we didn’t have to sit through an embarrassing and inappropriate speech from Michael, Karen is pretty unprofessional for interrupting the way she does. Michael is there from corporate to do a job and she shouldn’t end the lecture when she feels like it.

Comic Highlight: Upon arriving at Utica Michael sees a very pregnant Karen. His self involved mindset is in full glorious display. “Oh my God! Is that Jim’s?” he asks. He is amused and freaked out by this turn of events. “I’m just trying to figure out the last time you and Jim had sex.”

That’s what I said: It’s another really fun episode of The Office. They make use of their characters really well to gain maximum amusement while setting up an intriguing part two.

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