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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-???


Episode 8 - The Deposition

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Michael is testifying at his deposition in Jan’s wrongful termination lawsuit. During cross examination the issue of when his relationship with Jan actually started comes up. The photo of them in Jamaica and his diary are both entered as exhibits. In the end he testifies in favour of the company. Back at the office there is a ping pong table in the warehouse. Jim has been losing to Darryl and Kelly talks smack to Pam about it. So Pam organises practise for Jim so that he can beat Darryl and defend her honour.

The Good: A superb character portrait of Michael with some very solid jokes to support it.

The deposition proves to be the ideal place for Michael to be funny. Why is this? The nature of the deposition is very structured and professional, both things which he can not handle well. He also doesn’t understand either the cases being made or what he thinks he should be saying. He is naturally very honest with people and so here once he runs out of rehearsed things to say he falls back on the truth.

That truth reveals him as something of a good guy in this situation. As he points out, Jan was ready to reveal his diary to a bunch of strangers for her own gain while Dunder Mifflin were as kind to him as they could be. As we know it is also Michael’s great desire to be liked by everyone. So David Wallis’ comment that he is a nice guy clearly means more to him than the corporate job itself.

We also get one of those rare moments in a sitcom where a scene can be funny and extremely poignant. Michael sits down next to Toby at lunch and Toby tries to be nice. He tells Michael that he understands what he is going through because when his parents got divorced they both asked him to testify and he didn’t want to. It is heartbreaking just to hear but the delivery is soft and genuine and then Michael shoves his tray off the table and walks away. Michael’s completely unjustified dislike of Toby has never been more perfectly executed than this. One can almost assume that on some level Michael didn’t want to hear something which would make him sympathise with Toby. In its brief way it is one of the greatest scenes The Office has ever produced.

Back to the deposition itself and we get a stream of funny moments as Michael misunderstands the nature of questions. He uses “That’s what she said” much to everyone’s bemusement, he doesn’t understand the word plaintiff, he admits to thinking Ryan is as hot as Jan, he makes a dramatic noise when  producing evidence and says “I will allow it” at one point as if he were a judge. I haven’t even mentioned the funniest part yet (see Comic Highlight).

Back at the office Kelly gives Pam her smack talk in a convincing and fun manner. The conclusion to their story where they try to play each other is fun as well.

The Bad: Dwight looks unnecessarily stupid for believing Jim’s ping pong lies, both in the first place and at the end.

Michael looks slightly delusional for still believing that he was going to get the corporate job. We saw David Wallis tell him to his face that he wasn’t getting it (325).

Comic Highlight: We jump to the deposition where we can see Michael looking confused as the stenographer reads back a portion of his questioning:
Mr Scott did you realise you just contradicted yourself?
I did?
Yes you did.
Can I go to the bathroom?
But I really have to I’ve been drinking lots of water.
You went five minutes ago.
That wasn’t to go to the bathroom that was to get out of answering a question.
You still have to answer it.
But first can I go to the bathroom?
Michael looks at the camera with a look I would describe as embarrassed confusion. Brilliant stuff.

That’s what I said: Making Michael the central focus of an episode is not always successful. He can be so unlikeable and unreasonable that it can turn you off from watching. But here he is made to be sympathetic and the result is superb. The characterisation is excellent and the jokes flow so beautifully from his established traits. The deposition setting is ideal both for his character and for the single camera format of the show. If The Office were this good all the time I would be able to agree with the hype that surrounds it.



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  • OMG, this is my favourite episode and I see from your points tally that its your favourite episode toooo!

    Posted by Sam Y, 03/09/2009 1:34am (11 years ago)

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