Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Office, "Business Ethics": Dumbledore Calrissian to the rescue!

Spoilers for "The Office" coming up just as soon as I enjoy a Bloomin' Onion...

There are episodes of "The Office" that are made by funny malapropisms, or silly physical comedy, or just the right inflections ("So now I have two toasters..."). "Business Ethics" was all about the reaction shots. I'm not sure I can remember an episode that was so filled with so many perfect, hilarious shots of people showing their displeasure at what's happening around them.

One of those was the shot pictured above, of Dwight straining mightily not to correct all of Jim's "Battlestar Galactica" errors, lest Jim clock him for "time theft." (The entire stopwatch bit was one of the best-ever Jim/Dwight gags in the way that Jim exploited Dwight's self-righteousness, his obsession with rules and his love of both facts and "Battlestar Galactica" all at once.) But there were so many other perfect looks, whether it was Holly seeming crestfallen when Michael shot down one of her jokes, Holly's disgust as Michael kept talking and talking and talking about chastity belts, or, my favorite from the episode (and already one of my favorite "Office" moments ever), Michael silently backing out of the break room holding the coffee pot while Holly held out her mug. As brilliant as Steve Carell's face was during Ricky Gervais' stream of insults at the Emmys, he was even better here at showing just how offended Michael was by Holly's assertion that Dunder-Mifflin isn't a family, but a workplace.

I'm going to miss Amy Ryan so much whenever she inevitably goes back to her movie career. As I've been saying, Holly's presence forces Michael to be more human, but she's also very funny in her own right, whether it's her joining in on Michael's awful Olivia Newton-John dance number or the talking head where she admitted that the ethics meeting was not, in fact, going to be "Insaaaaaane!!!!"

Continuing the idea that Holly is a slightly more functional female version of Michael, the resolution of the Meredith story -- in which the corporate head of HR explained that all he wanted was for Holly to get signatures so that D-M would be covered legally -- was very much along the lines of all the times that Michael has gotten in trouble with corporate for taking assignments too literally.

Back-to-back classic episodes to start the season. Very nice.

Some other thoughts on "Business Ethics":

• After getting left on the cutting room floor practically every week for the last two seasons (including the explanation of what was wrong with her face last week), Meredith becomes the center of attention in a story that deals with her slutty side rather than her alcoholic side. While Meredith's explanation about the Outback Steakhouse coupons ("I just felt good about myself") was hilariously creepy, doesn't the entire subplot, which says Meredith has been sleeping with the Hammermill guy for six years, contradict what we were told in season three's "The Convention" about Hammermill at the time being exclusive with Staples?

• Other than her voice in the opening scene, Pam was absent from an episode for the first time ever. It fits the storyline, and gives the writers some time to figure out what they're going to do with Pam once she finishes the design class, but I missed Jenna Fischer. At least we got her perfect "Wow" on the speaker phone in reaction to Dwight informing Jim that she wasn't a virgin.

• Also, the staff's completely disinterested reaction to the engagement news felt both in-character and like a funny counterpoint to how psyched the audience got last week when it happened.

• I love how Kevin is constantly morphing Ryan's nickname: "Fire Guy" --> "Fired Guy" --> "Hired Guy."

• So Ryan hooked up with a woman who looked just like JoAnna from "Survivor" season six, eh? Good for him.

• Is it physically possible to sneeze with your eyes open? I must know.

What did everybody else think?

36 comments:

Oaktown Girl said...

Oooh...West Coast here, "Office" hasn't aired yet. So I just snuck a peek at your first paragraph to see if you thought it was a good one. Seems you did, so I'm looking forward to 9pm rolling around.

Joseph Aeneas Ciccarello said...

Not sure about real life, but I do remember eliot sneezing with her eyes open in one scrubs episode.

matt said...

if you close your eyes before you sneeze, your eyes will open during the sneeze. true story.

studda said...

it's a shot for shot remake.hilarious.

DolphinFan said...

Five notes:
*Of course Dunder-Mifflin won't fire Michael; any company that basically admires a worker whoring herself for supplies isn't going to object to Michael being stupid, keeping a pizza kid hostage, or sleeping with Jan.
*I hope Andy finds out very soon that Angela's cheating on him. His annoyed reaction to the engagement of a truly-in-love couple as stealing the spotlight from his pseudo-engagement made me want to hit him.
*Meredith should have held out for some coupons for Ruth Chris'.
*I actually feel bad for Ryan again. Joanna on Season 6 of SURVIVOR (The Amazon) was a self-righteous bully who insulted a deaf woman.
*Movie quote possibly inspiring the Dumbledore Calrissian line: "Greetings, Earthling! My name is Han Solo. I am an extraterrestrial from the planet Vulcan!" Guess what film it's from?

Anonymous said...

Actually, it's "Silence Earthling! My name is Darth Vader. I am an extraterrestrial from the planet Vulcan!"

Maybe you hit your head on the DeLorean's door on the way out?

Jennifer J. said...

I have to agree with, Alan. Jim's stopwatch bit was awesome. The BG "misinformation" only made it that much funnier! And we all know what was goinz onz for those 19+ "time theft" minutes. ;)

I also really liked that Michael told Holly that she can't just hand a joke-to-be-made to these employees during company meetings. So fantastic.

Oh, and who doesn't love Creed more in his not knowing of names...referring to Jim as "the tall guy"? Love Creed!

Question Mark said...

Wasn't this episode shot when Jenna Fischer was on the mend with her back injury? That might explain her absence.

Dropping Survivor Joanna's name was hysterical. What a totally random reference.

Isn't there some way Amy Ryan could stay? I mean, sure she got an Oscar nomination, but that doesn't immediately lead to massive success. Surely a major recurring role on a top TV comedy is just as good.

David said...

I loved the stop-watch joke as well, but the best part was how Dwight got the best of Jim at the end. Jim had his self-satisfied grin going on, thinking that he finally got Dwight to cave and take a little PTO, while the entire time he was really clueless as to what was going on. Then Dwight had his turn to smile to the camera.

This also continued one of my favorite running jokes - Jim's major blind spot re Dwight. (Best example: the conference, where he thought that Dwight was sleeping with a prostitute. Classic!)

Nicole said...

I was dying during the BSG misinformation scene... but loved Dwight's evil grin at the end. Great episode and finally Meredith gets a bit of the spotlight.

I also loved the quick reaction shot to Kevin about stealing from the company, referencing the webisodes a from last summer.

Anonymous said...

thats the best episode Office has had in a looooooooong time.

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Dwight's "the husband's getting cuckolded by a stronger man" line. That killed!

Rainn Wilson needs to make this his Emmy episode.

Undercover Asian Man said...

Alan obviously doesn't watch Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. They did a whole segment about sneezing with your eyes open. They had a super slow motion shot of Adam Savage sneezing while holding his eyes open and it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. So the myth that you close your eyes to protect your eyeballs from flying out of you head is, of course, false. And you can sneeze with your eyes open, but it is very difficult.

Ruth Chris' steaks are the most disgusting things around. They smother them in butter - YES BUTTER. So of course if you love butter, and most humans do, you will think their steaks are exceptional. But it's just a cheap trick, like putting a lot of salt or sugar in cheap food, or deep frying anything - like Alan's Bloomin Onion.

Amy Ryan is my favorite Office person already. Is she leaving for sure?

Anonymous said...

video of sneezing with your eyes open:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D5fJYHbK7k

Clevelle said...

If you've ever had to sneeze while driving on a busy freeway, you bet your ass you can sneeze with your eyes open. ;-)

dronkmunk said...

I love that they had lobster for their business lunch at, what was that, TGIF?

I thought something was going to come of it when he threw Holly's leftovers in the trash.

Anonymous said...

I missed Pam.

Okay episode in my opinion.

dronkmunk said...

Also, off topic, I don't know if you caught the SNL special last night, but the opening debate sketch was totally hilarious. They seem to be on their game, at least for the last week or so. No so atrocious indeed.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/38479/saturday-night-live-update-thursday-debate-open

la said...

Amy. Ryan. Must. Stay.

tom said...

"You are a thief of joy."

Allison said...

What a great episode. I really enjoy when they poke holes in actual office culture, and this one pointed out how "business ethics" isn't nearly as black and white as companies would like to make it.

My favorite line of the night--"How do you tell someone who you care about very deeply 'I told you so?' Gently, with a rose?"

As soon as Holly mentioned stealing office supplies, my husband yelled, "Creed talking head!" and then we were disappointed when it didn't happen! I suppose they only have so much time, though...

Alan Sepinwall said...

As soon as Holly mentioned stealing office supplies, my husband yelled, "Creed talking head!" and then we were disappointed when it didn't happen! I suppose they only have so much time, though...

I'm sure there was one. (Goes to check the deleted scenes at NBC.com...) Yup, there was one, along with a great Phyllis story. For once, someone else's talking head got cut to give Meredith some airtime.

willieb said...

The place where Michael and Holly had lunch is Cooper's, a real seafood restaurant in Scranton. It's outrageously decorated with anything the owners can find -- old newspaper headlines, mannequins dressed like pirates, cardboard cutouts of Star Trek figures -- and above it all, running next to the ceiling, is a working model train set! The place has four or five dining rooms and the train moves from one room to the other as it chugs along the elevated track. The "Office" interior set actually made it look too much like an Applebys -- too bland and much tamer than it actually is.

Blockade Boy said...

I'm guessing the restaurant looked generic because they keep redressing the same building (which was an actual restaurant) for their set. In at least two cases -- "Chili's" and "Hooters" -- the producers hired actual wait staff from those chains.

I love that Michael thinks he's creating a marvelous impression with Holly by trashing her stuff. The tickets last week, and her lunch this week. I mean, it's painful to watch, but I love it!

James in Mich. said...

I too thought about flaw with the Hammer Mill time line, Alan! I've actually been looking on a few show forums to see if anyone else had caught that but your blog was the only one I could find.

Things like these should have obviously been fixed before airing.

LA said...

Hilarious that Michael called the restaurant "business romantic."

Anonymous said...

It looked like Micheal had two or three lobsters and Holly had a salad.
Thanks Uncle Dunder-Mifflin.

Puff

That First Andrew said...

As for the Hammermill thing, I was under the impression that the thing at the Convention allowed DM to SELL Hammermill products, whereas Meredith's saavy business dealings was allowing them to purchase office supplies for internal use at a discount. Maybe I'm wrong. I am usually wrong.

I love when Michael tries to make the big gestures that are clearly formed by pop culture. Ripping up the tickets last week and sweeping her just-purchased lunch into the trash were exactly the kind of things he would think a dashing leading man would do. Reminds me of the end of the Diwali episode when Pam was crying on his shoulder and he went in for a kiss. That is just what he thought he was supposed to do in a moment like that.

Was Andy playing along with Jim during the Dumbledore Calrissian thing? He almost seemed TOO oblivious to BSG, and his follow up questions were the sort of thing Pam or Karen would have responded with if they were in on it, but his "That doesn't sound right..." comment threw me.

How great was the response to the news that Jim and Pam were engaged? After all the build up and obsession from fans, when it actually happens, no one cares. Except for Michael, who Pam knew well enough to try to lie to him. Seeing him tackle Jim out of frame was dynamite, NewsRadio quality physical stuff that this show rarely attempts.

tejo said...

I liked how Michael was going out of his way to have Merideth keep her job, you see why the employees like him, even while they despise him at the same time.

Anonymous said...

At some point, they have to introduce us at least to Michael's mom and possibly his stepfather. From what we've heard and seen (in "Phyllis' Wedding"), Michael didn't have a happy childhood and wasn't exactly blessed with great parents. His view that the Scranton office is a family and not just a workplace seems to reflect what he missed out on growing up, and touching base on that could be a classic Office mix of funny/horrifying/touching.

Allison said...

there was one, along with a great Phyllis story.

ROFL--"an ostrich...wearing a soccer uniform..."

I'm glad they cut that from the episode, but Phyllis Smith's delivery was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't this episode shot when Jenna Fischer was on the mend with her back injury?

Nope.

Dave Sandell said...

Is what Meredith is doing illegal or just "unethical"? I only ask because the cameras were in the room when the guy basically said, keep doing what she's doing.

Anonymous said...

Kinda off topic of this episode, but I read somewhere that we are supposed to find out who the film crew is that's following this group, and what the footage is all for. Anyone else hear this tidbit? I bring it up because the part about all the good reaction shots was true, and made me really aware of the camera crew this week, which is a good thing. Sometimes it slips too far into the background. Anyway..that's it. Great episode!

Zachary said...

When Dwight said "She's not a virgin anymore.", I wondered if Jim and Pam had sex when they went to Schrute Beet Farm and Dwight overheard them.

When Jim TH's about Dwight not taking any personal time, did he forget about earlier when he timed Dwight yawning for four seconds?

Thanks goodness Dwight used a soda bottle and not a can, otherwise we would have gotten Cut Penis on the Lid 2: Electric Bugaloo! :)

krysumn said...

Is it just me or does Joanna look somewhat like Mindy Kaling, ie. Kelly?

qrter said...

"Is it just me or does Joanna look somewhat like Mindy Kaling, ie. Kelly?"

Sorry, don't see that at all.