Friday, March 27, 2009

The Office, "Two Weeks": Company woman

Spoilers for last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I mix up a scotch and Splenda...
"You know what? I had a great time at prom, and no one said yes to that, either." -Michael
There are many different flavors of "Office" episodes, and not surprisingly, fans have their favorite flavors, as well as the ones they can't stand. You've got your supporters of the squirm-inducing, British-flavored episodes like last week's squirmy outing or "Phyllis' Wedding," and those who would rather be stabbed in the eye with a fork than to see another of those. You have your broadly comic ones where Michael and Dwight are wearing fake mustaches and Dwight is peeing into a soda can, and some people think those are so silly as to be worthless. Then you have your low-key, relatively realistic episodes where Michael's verging on bankruptcy or trying to get a date on Valentine's Day, and some complain that they're not funny enough. And you have your swoony romantic episodes where Jim and/or Pam makes some grand romantic gesture, and the people who aren't into the PB&J thing roll their eyes the same way Meredith did when "Little Miss Thing" Pam(*) tried to get everyone's attention.

(*) And I'm surprised it took the show this long to establish that Meredith, the aging office tramp, would resent the hell out of someone like Pam.

"Two Weeks" was a mix of the silly and the realistic flavors, starting off with a bunch of gags about how much worse Michael behaves when he's not even trying to be a boss, but then heading to that moment near the end where he convinces Pam -- who has spent all day mastering the new copy machine and realizes just how empty her career is -- to join him in his Jerry Maguire quest to build a new paper company to rival Dunder-Mifflin. The jokes were great (I particularly loved Jim hearing monster noises from Michael's computer and yelling that Monster.com is singular), but what elevated the episode into something really special was the Pam and Michael stuff at the end: Michael and Pam's pure joy at telling Jim they're in the middle of a company meeting, followed by end-of-"The Graduate" shot of them walking away, as you see their giddiness replaced by the realization that they've both walked away from secure jobs in a bad economy to start up a business that has very little chance of succeeding. Steve Carell and Jenna Fischer are always brilliant in those moments when they have to show multiple emotions at once, so it was nice to finally see them get to do it side-by-side.

But will the Michael Scott Paper Company really fail? Before we get into discussing the rest of "Two Weeks," I want to speculate a little -- and I'll remind you early not to go discussing the previews, or anything you've read on other sites, or anything that's even vaguely spoiler-y -- about the different paths this story can travel.

The episode's end plants the seeds of Charles Minor inadvertently destroying the Scranton branch because he doesn't know the employees as well as Michael does. Michael, for all his social obliviousness, does know how to read people professionally, especially these people, and he would know better than to put inarticulate Kevin on the phones or make lazy Stanley the "productivity czar." So we could certainly see a situation where the once-profitable Scranton branch goes in the tank under the leadership of Charles (or whatever outside guy he brings in to run things), and David Wallace has to go begging for Michael to return, regardless of how Michael's new venture is going.

But do you think the show would be brave and/or foolish enough to have Michael succeed? He does know paper, he does know the area, and he does know the customers better than anyone else. He is at times a miracle worker with sales, and with the right people around him running the business side of things, maybe he makes a go of it. I doubt it -- Oscar made very salient points about how hard this will be for him -- but you never know. But while the show has gotten away with keeping certain characters apart for a batch of episodes (Jim in Stamford with Andy and Karen, Ryan at corporate, Pam at art school), would a permanent split really work? I doubt it. It's too much fun to see Pam and Jim working as a team, or to see Stanley have to deal with Michael, etc., to take those elements away forever. But as an interim thing (again, ala Jim in Stamford), it could work, especially if it puts Pam on a different professional track when she returns.

But back to "Two Weeks" itself. A drunk Michael wandering through the office and being more disruptive than usual was hilarious, as was one of the best collections of talking heads I can recall from a single episode: Oscar's dreams about quitting; Charles recognizing the effect he has on women; Toby comparing Michael to a movie on a plane; Kevin wondering if he should compliment Michael directly, then being too lazy to do so; etc. And there were great throwaway jokes about the office dynamics: not just Meredith's disdain for Pam, but the staff all having thought out what line they would use if they quit (and Michael not quite recognizing that they dream of using it on him); Andy trying desperately to not respond to Michael's job offer; Michael and Dwight both hoping the other one wouldn't want to keep working together; Michael putting a "sterile" note in Oscar's food; and more.

I also loved Michael listening to the tearful farewell message from the head of Prince Family Paper and realizing that he let Dwight talk him into putting out of business the one place that might hire him.

Yup, the creative team (in this case led by writer Aaron Shure and directed by Paul Lieberstein) was firing on all cylinders with this one. I look forwarded to the two episodes we're getting in two weeks (next Thursday is all-"ER"), and can't wait to see where this arc goes next.

What did everybody else think?

55 comments:

BL Ride said...

It's just too bad that monsters.com is a placeholder site for a search engine...

Jordan said...

I thought this was one of the best episodes they've done. As someone who's worked in many offices, I knew exactly what Pam was feeling when she bragged about mastering the copier then realizing how empty and useless a victory it is.

I don't think Michael's heading back to DM anytime soon. I agree that he'll probably be back a la Jim in Stamford, but he's a man with wounded pride, he's going to come back a broken man when the Scranton branch slips. This is more the funniest drama on tv than a sitcom at this point, so I don't expect a quick revert to form.

On that note, way to go character development. Pam pre-coal walk would never have done that.

I thought the direction was great, from the bathroom door shot to the way the camera lingered on people's faces just a little too long. And the acting in that last scene was brilliant.

Fernando said...

If there was one thing I would change, it would be Pam realizing (again) she didn't want to be a secretary. If it had come an episode or 2 before this one, and not in the same episode where Michael non sensical rambling convinces her to pull a Renee Zellweger circa 98, it would have been better. But as is, its pretty good.

I couldn't help but think of Stringer holding his "Robert's Rules of Order" style meeting back in the funeral home when Charles walks into the conference room at the end. I actually don't think Stanley being productivity czar would be that bad of a move. It could motivate Stanley to actually care and try a little harder, though I doubt they'll go that direction. Kevin on the phone is just going to be an utter disaster. I like that after mostly 2 episodes of being the professional messiah, we finally see a chink in Charles' armor.

Anyone think Idris Elba might stick around longer than expected? (finger's crossed)

Brian said...
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Omagus said...

Great episode. I really do wonder what's in store for Michael. I don't see how he can be kept away from DM for long but how can he really come back? I guess that's why we watch.

It took me a while to tie together the Pam vs copier stuff with her desire to play Renee Zellweger to Michael's Tom Cruise (and wouldn't he LOVE that comparison) because I thought the copier stuff was just being played for laughs. When it hit me, I was like, "Brilliant."

Liked the stuff with Stringer Charles too: how Jim continues to put his foot in his mouth every time the new boss is around; Angela and Kelly continuing to fight for his attention (and his acknowledgment that he is well aware of it); and the almost showdown between he and Michael.

I didn't LOL as often as I have at previous episodes bit it was good stuff all around.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No talking about things from the previews. Period.

lungfish said...

For some reason, I started getting genuinely nervous that Michael would get discovered by Charles when he was military crawling around the office.

K J Gillenwater said...

This was so so great. They really needed to shake up the office dynamic, and this looks very promising.

My guess as to where things will lead?

Well, Michael did say he landed about half the clients at the Scranton branch. Which means he may be able to steal them away (not sure where he will get his paper from, but that's another story...). Then, when he steals away the clients and former steel manager dude fails at managing or finding a qualified branch manager replacement, David will beg Michael to come back...perhaps giving him a raise or something.

Also, I would assume Pam would return to the office as a salesman to compete with her husband (comedy gold right there) and a new receptionist would be in place to liven things up.

What do you think?

**By the way, the best part was Jim's total support of Pam leaving her job and joining up with Michael.**

Ryan said...

It's just too bad that monsters.com is a placeholder site for a search engine...

Wait, doesn't NBC legally have to register this domain now? They're missing a viral marketing opportunity!

Anonymous said...

Yes, no talking about the previews.

Also, NO WIRE HANGERS. EVER!!!

Will Eidam said...

Although I did like the shout out to The Prince Paper Company, didn't we find out when they visited that Prince Paper wasn't hiring?

I know I shouldn't be watching "The Office" like it's "Lost"...but maybe Cuse and Lindehof can explain this to me, just so I know I won't have to think about it anymore...

Now I think I'll go watch "The Graduate," as I have no idea what happens in the end...

Jim said...

and he would know better than to put inarticulate Kevin on the phones or make lazy Stanley the "productivity czar."

I must've accidentally ff'ed through an important scene.

As much as I loved the sparring between Kelly (Kelli? I'm sure she'd prefer the latter spelling) and Angela, the only problem I have with the Charles-scenes is that Angela is too giddy, too out-of-control around him. It would be more in character, and funnier, if she more like uptight-Angela trying to flirt and failing, like Dwight trying to be tender when he offered to bury her cat "in the east pasture, next to Mother". Her behavior now is too, as the Angela of past seasons would say, "whorish."

When David Wallace has to bring Michael back to save the branch from Charles, and Pam is made a "salesman" (predictions, not gossip), as she put it, they can make Creed the new receptionist. I don't think he'd care, and that desk would be a great spot for his observations and one-liners.

Peter Lynn said...

I'm disappointed that Charles is going with an outside hire for the regional manager. I was hoping that Angela would be promoted into that spot, letting her worst power-mad impulses reign.

Without getting into possible spoilers about other departed Dunder-Mifflin staff who might join the Michael Scott paper company, I wonder what this is going to mean for Jim. I used to work for a company with a authoritarian management that was paranoid about its competition, and when one employee quit to take a position with an upstart rival firm made up of former employees, our management decided that her boyfriend's continued employment was a conflict of interest and possible breach of confidentiality and terminated him, albeit with a severance package. So, especially considering how unimpressed Charles already is with Jim, I can easily see Charles deciding that Jim's relationship with Pam is a liability and showing him the door.

Rachel said...

Sometimes I can't help seeing things through a lawyer's eyes. Typically, employees like Michael would have non-solicitation clauses in their contracts, meaning they cannot try to solicit clients of DM for, say, a year. (And Michael's non-compete is the reason he got booted early.)

Of course, The Office isn't trying to be the most realistic show. But it makes me even more curious about what's going to happen next.

I liked the "wow" look Jim gave when Pam said she wanted to be a salesman. I'm curious where that'll go too.

All around a very good episode. It didn't have the zany brilliance of last night's 30 Rock, but it was brilliant in its own way.

Mr. Guilt said...

My prediction:

Under Charles, the Scranton branch tanks. This would be in part due to his mismanagement of people, a lack of business acumen, as well as competition...

...competition from Michael Scott Paper! It's been established that Michael does a good (if occasionally accidental) job creating a personal relationship with his customer base, and, especially if service from DM goes south, it's not far fetched for them to jump over.

So, perhaps a few employees (Jim, Oscar) jump ship after seeing a downturn (plus Charles's ham-fisted management), and MSP's success continues. So, what would DM do?

Buy out MSP, Michael returns to the office, and order is restored to the universe.

Anonymous said...

Last night's office wasn't the funniest, but it was one of my favorites. The Pam/Michael Jerry McGuire moment was such a great shock ending. It was completely unexpected but completely in line with the history of the characters. While Michael has always annoyed Pam, she's been willing to put up with him and even seems to like/respect him a bit. She failed at her first real attempt to improve her life in art school, so why not take this leap?

Question: What's going to happen when Michael starts stealing clients away from his former employees? Michael's been in over his head as a manager, but he is a great salesperson.

He's mastered all the tools of making personal connections w/ clients -- being funny with Tim Meadows, convincing corporate accounts to jump, knowing the names of clients' children, etc. We've never seen Dwight/Andy/Jim/etc. have those same abilities. Dwight and Andy are too creepy, Jim's too lazy and they've never touched too much on Phyllis' abilities.

Stringer's first talking head was a great first start. Hilariously over-confident.

I have to think they're moving in this direction because they missed out on a lot of the Ryan/Jim animosity last season because of the writer's strike.

Michael said...

It's been a while since I've seen "The Graduate". How did the ending of this episode mirror that?

Matt said...

It would be testing the limits of believability to have Charles come in and manage that branch, even on an interim basis.

But these are two amazing episodes. For me, the show's been getting stale the last year and a half of so, and this storyline - which looks so far to have actual consequences and ramifications for the rest of the series - has completely shaken everything up, bringing out the good and jettising the bad.

I hope the show takes a cue from "Lost" and keeps Michael and Pam seperated from the others for a good amount of time.

Captain Jack said...

It doesn't give anything away, but for those asking about the Graduate reference - the two main characters leave the final scene with a first happy, fading to "oh holy shit what did I just do?" look on their faces, just as Michael and Pam did at the end of this one.

Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Another great exchange:

JIM: (Discussing starting a new paper company) Don't you know the industry's in decline?

MICHAEL: Of course, I practically invented decline.

Bryan said...

sorry bout that folks-that's the second time today I've deleted my post because I've duplicated something already posted. I give up- I'll just read the rest of the day

BTW- great episode though.

Wholi said...

Just a guess on my part: I think Michael does make it and, over the course of next season, everyone slowly migrates over to the new company and series ends just as it started - everyone working for a paper company.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I am having a hard time watching Stringer Bell in a comedy. I certainly don't think Idris Elba is showing off any particular set of acting skills.

They really could have found someone better to play that part and not ruin Strang (as Clay Davis would call him) for me.

Loved Amy Ryan, but Idris Elba is having the same effect as I imagine seeing Michael in 90210 would.

Henry said...

Somehow, despite liking Charles' succinct "I know my effect on women" talking head, I think I liked Toby's talking head the best. Simply because we don't get talking heads from Toby too much and he looks like such a sad sack when he really should be celebrating the fact that Michael -- who has been so unreasonably cruel to him over the years -- is leaving. The content of his talking head was funny as hell, though. Good on Paul Lieberstein.

Brian J said...

It was a great episode for the reasons already articulated. I just want to touch on one thing, at least for right now.

We all realize how valuable Michael is to the Scranton branch, even if he has ass backwards success. It wouldn't surprise me to see him be successful, at least for a while, in starting his own business. Assuming he can get all of the pieces together, he'd probably be able to sell a decent amount. But as Oscar said, there are many obstacles to his success. Unless the writers decide to surprise us with some money that Michael has stashed away or inherits, it's hard to see where he's going to get the loans to make his business survive. He knows how the ins and outs of selling, yes, but can he deal with the accounting issues, shipping the stuff, and so on? As Oscar pointed out, it's ridiculous hard, especially in this economic climate.

If the writers can successfully make him overcome these challenges, they will be in good shape. Let's hope they have a good long term vision in line.

Adam said...

The last five minutes of The Graduate (YouTube). Contains spoilers, natch.

Russell Lucas said...

If Pam goes into sales, there's some nice mileage for a Russell/Grant or Hepburn/Tracy run between she and Jim.

The monster.com joke is the show's best of the year. Gotta love that Michael would navigate there, get distracted by all the noisy stuff and forget what he was doing.

JamesG said...

I'm not sure where to come out on Charles's management yet. While on the surface level it seems like he's wrongly categorized everyone -- Kevin as receptionist, Stanley as productivity czar, and Jim as a lackluster employee -- perhaps he sees more into them than a complacent, let's-be-friends Michael Scott. Jim, for example, really does waste a considerable amount of time and productivity by goofing off. Charles has every right to be annoyed and expect more from him. Stanley, being the most senior member of the office, may actually be better at delegating responsibility and overseeing others than in working harder. Kevin, however, seems like a disaster waiting to happen as receptionist.

Charles's talking head where he acknowledges the ladies' flirting shows that he has a pretty good degree of self-awareness. I am really curious to see how this plays it, and how our lovable, dysfunctional office works under the supervision of a serious, professional manager.

Steven said...

I liked the part after Michael snuck back into the office, then Charles said something about not needing to wait for security to throw him out. The little move Charles made with his suitjacket quickly brought back the coward in Michael as he left with his tail between his legs.

Castaway said...

Great episode: monsters.com, the Toby talking head, Michael crawling around on the floor pleading for people to leave with me, Pam being the one who leaves...all awesome moments. I think the "Charles doesn't understand the skills or lack thereof of everyone, business tanks, Michael returns" speculation makes sense, and I'm sure they have some funny ways to get there.

Michael said...

The other thing is that even David Wallace has told Michael that he doesn't know how the Scranton branch is outperforming the other branches.

Like it or not, Michael is a star player, and Wallace blew it by not keeping his stars happy. With a new guy in place, he has now broken up the system that worked and they're really going to struggle.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Michael has not signed a (non-compete) contract, a la that other business genius, Don Draper...

Amit said...

I'm surprised nobody mentioned creed thinking he had to pay to use the copier. that's the part that had me clutching my stomach from laughing so hard

Evie Garland said...

Mr. Guilt, I love your prediction as to what will happen next, and think you might be right! Eventually Michael hires them all for this own paper company after DM Scranton tanks. Although it's always been funny to see Michael have to answer to corporate, the things he could get away with when he has no boss could be hysterical.

I also agree with Jim (the commenter, not the character) about Angela seeming too flirty/giddy. But my guess is that it will all change once Charles finds out about Bandit living in the file drawer.

DolphinFan said...

How did this superb episode work? Let me count the ways! It worked because Pam not only realized that she needed to do something besides sitting at reception for the rest of her life, but Jim's response was warm and likable after getting over his initial shock and bemusement. It worked because it told us everything about how Michael views Oscar's abilities by simply showing that Michael didn't ask Kevin OR Angela to join his start-up. It worked because Andy's response to Michael leaving showed that Phyllis hasn't forgotten his suckup Season 3 persona but we also saw that Andy is not just that person anymore and will genuinely miss having a laid-back boss. It worked because of course the war Dwight thinks America should have never gotten into was WWII, because Hank doesn't have to define loyalty that way in his job, and because Charles thinks Kevin is a good choice for a coordinated information role and Stanley a good choice to prod other works to be more industrious.
It worked, overall, because it understands these characters and their crazy world, and it was the best episode of this season by far.

Erizu said...

Prediction: Michael tries to get Holly to be part of his business

melarol said...

Loved this episode. I liked how Pam and Michael's road trip earlier in the season foreshadowed their connection here. I think Pam saw him in a different light then and maybe that also helped with her decision.
Can't wait to see what happens.
I loved Kelly's "She's such a special person. She's turning 50 this year." Great delivery.

SJ said...

So we are gonna see some tension between Jim and Pam? I wish we don't.

Oaktown Girl said...

It would be more in character, and funnier, if she more like uptight-Angela trying to flirt and failing,

The Angela we have now is not the same person as the Angela we had before, and I feel that if the writers were to portray her as though she were would be too phony to bear.

Having been dumped by both Dwight and Andy in such a public fashion, Angela's been knocked completely off her high horse. She's no longer top of pecking order in the office, even if it was only in her own mind that she was.

Angela's desperate now, and her behavior around Charles is totally in keeping with the new paradigm. Some interesting things are going to have to happen before Angela returns to her former self, and I hope the writers make the most of it.

RichC said...

I thought this was a very funny episode. But I really, really, really hated the end when Pam leaves. I just think it's really gross that Pam would voluntarily go somewhere else to work with Michael Scott. I guess others have a better opinion of Michael than I do. While he's funny to laugh at, and I can see he's not a bad person necessarily, I still think he's the kind of boss you run away from when you get the chance.

Keith Rogers said...

My predictions:

• Michael, along with Pam and Ryan attempt to start up "Michael Scott Paper Co.", however, they need knowledge expertise, and various resources to accelerate development of the company. Where does go? Who does he turn to for help? Enter the Prince Family, formerly of Prince Paper Company.

• Michael confesses that their going out of business was of his doing, but he proposes a joint business venture that will help get their paper company back on track, with more clients than any other competitor. The Prince family has enough wealth to get by for a little while with their business in ruins, however, investing in another business that fails would ruin them.

• Michael, being the outstanding salesman that he is, successfully sells the idea to the Prince family. So they get to work reopening shop as Michael persuade a great number of Dunder Mifflin customers to buy from his paper company.

• Meanwhile, back at the office, Charles engages in a romantic relationship with Angela. Being able to manipulate her V.P. lover, she gets him to fire Kelly and Phyllis, the two co-workers she does not like.

• Michael Scott Prince Paper Co. takes off, big time, and captures the majority of paper sales market share in the local area, beating out local competitors Staples and Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Dunder Mifflin Corporate HQ takes notice.

•Everyone in the office is miserable. Morale is at an all time low. There is tension between Pam and Jim, being that Pam is the breadwinner of the relationship, seeing that she is selling more than Jim. Charles is doing his best to suppress talk of people defecting to Michael's successful company.

• Corporate finds out about Charles and Angela, the wrongful firings, and the extremely low office morale, and well as the grievances of his subordinates. Bob Wallace concludes that the Scranton branch went downhill under the management of Charles Minor, and immediately terminates his position as he is tasked to save the Scranton branch before an imminent closure.

• Corporate tries to buy out Michael Scott Prince Paper Company, however, Michael and co. reject Corporates offers. They offer Michael, Ryan, and Pam very high salaries to come back to Dunder Mifflin, believing that those three are the reason the new company is doing so well. Michael accepts under the condition that Corporate will not try to buy out and dissolve Prince Paper company. Michael ends up working at corporate replacing Charles Minor, Ryan returns as regional manager, and Pam ends up as Jim and Dwight's rival saleswoman. Creed becomes the next receptionist.

Rick said...

I imagine that Michael will be successful selling to DM clients- the one thing Charles kept trying to get him to do was write out his personal client list.

There wil undeniably be an episode where Jim & Pam are competing for the same client. That's scriptwriting 101.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused about something...weren't some of the beginning Pam/copier scenes already in the last episode?? they were the exact same scenes of kevin spilling coffee on the machine, the cat chewing the wire., etc. Or have i discovered some prescience?

Also, i agree with the comment about the craziness of Pam just walking out on a job (that she's had for years)to follow Michael Scott???? Couldn't she have given her 2 week notice and then left? He isn't even close to starting a company. Very unrealistic.

digamma said...

Elba's accent improved this week over last week. It's still, in my opinion, a little too Franklin Terrace for a high-flying businessman in New York. But at least he didn't let any England sneak out like last week.

I'm kind of sad that Charles is turning out to be a bad manager rather than a tough but sympathetic foil for the crazies in Scranton. I'm afraid his decline is going to be a rerun of Stringer's.

Jim is pretty supportive of Pam so I think he won't mind her trying her luck at MSPC. And it's not all that bad of a move for her, either - with no kids, the potential getting into a startup on the ground floor outweighs the loss of a receptionist job.

RichC said...

"I'm a little confused about something...weren't some of the beginning Pam/copier scenes already in the last episode?? they were the exact same scenes of kevin spilling coffee on the machine, the cat chewing the wire., etc. Or have i discovered some prescience?"

I think that scene was previewed on either Ellen or the Tonight Show last week.

Sandie said...

I'm surprised so many people think that Michael can pull this off. He might be a great salesman, but over the years we've seen how little he knows about anything else that goes on in that office. He has no concept of accounting, he has to be tricked into signing paperwork, he is clueless as to how a warehouse runs, and he continues to be oblivious as to the changes in market conditions.

The whole time he was talking up his company, I wanted someone to ask, "Where will you get the paper to sell?" Sure, he might be able to convince some customers to switch to a brand-new, unproven, two-man paper company from the one they've been with for years, but then what? Does he store the paper in his condo, and Pam does double duty as the trucker to deliver it? I'm sure Michael would be shocked to learn what the costs are to rent a warehouse, not to mention staff it. Remember his confusion over the excess budget they had at year end - this is not a man who is savvy about the financial condition of his branch. (In fact, remember how, during one of the first episodes with Wallace's character, when each branch manager had to prepare a presentation on their financials, Michael did a video of the staff? Because that's all he knows.)

I can't imagine a scenario where Michael is successful at this. I can imagine, however, his wooing some customers and then realizing in a panic he has nothing to sell, and filling the orders using D-M's online ordering system (or Staples or Office Max, etc.) He'd lose money on every transaction, have to sell his condo (again) to keep afloat, and wind up desperate enough to accept Wallace's offer to come back after Charles and his new hire(s) can't manage to get this dysfunctional bunch to function the way they are used to offices functioning.

(I also kind of like the idea of a constant stream of regional manager -wannabes coming through for the rest of the season, a la Murphy Brown's secretaries.)

But Michael Scott Paper a success? No, no, no.

filmcricket said...

I am having a hard time watching Stringer Bell in a comedy. I certainly don't think Idris Elba is showing off any particular set of acting skills.

Rent RocknRolla. Fast forward through Guy Ritchie's wankeriffic, go-nowhere dialogue scenes if necessary, but you'll get to see an Elba who is relaxed, funny and charming.

I'm actually kind of surprised how humourless and stern they're making Charles; didn't Elba say he wanted to do something quite different from the Stringer Bell character?

Oaktown Girl said...

Part of me wishes the Charles character was less uptight and by the book. But another part of me sees where this can go, and it could end up being pretty entertaining.

Charles gets a face full of all Michael's managerial flaws right from the get go. It's so extreme, he's ready to dismiss everything about Michael without trying to learn from him the good things Michael did as a manager in handling his staff. Clearly, he was doing something right because the office has been very successful.

But Charles has decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and it looks like he's heading toward getting knocked down several pegs, Angela/Ryan-style.
(I'm only guessing here. I intentionally didn't watch the previews for the next new episode so I can be surprised).

Jackie said...

My first thought was that it was a good thing that they set up Pam and Michael's relationship in a TWO-part storyline when they went to visit Karen. I'll have to go back and read people's comments on that. But I felt it rang a bit sentimental and I was not happy with the perfect bow on Karen's storyline. Very un-office-ish. I was almost suspicious. And maybe there's still time for some of that to unravel. Who knows?

Also--and this is really reaching back into tv-land--but this episode gave me the same feeling I had when I witnessed "Little House on the Prairie" morphing into "Little House--A New Beginning." An emptiness that hinted of the loneliness you might feel if you were the only person from your graduating class that was left to take another course at your high school. Everything familiar was replaced by something slightly off. The ground shifted and you had not completely found equilibrium.

That having been said, I was also disappointed to see that Charles Miner was beginning to feel one-dimensional. However, I loved that look shared between him and Hank. It was as if Hank acknowledged him as Stringer Bell and shared a moment. Expressing appreciation for all the Wire fans out there.

chrissie said...

So is Pam officially done with pursuing a career in art? With her leaving art school without graduating, are we to assume she's content with relegating it to a hobby?

LA said...

Am thrilled with Two Weeks and the new story possibilities that have opened up.

I just told a friend a few weeks ago that while I think The Office is better this year than it was last, the office party scenes were starting to drag the show down for me. Then, boom, the very next week, the party planning committee was dissolved, and now this. Bravo, writers.

It's funny. In reading the comments, I'm finding that the fans of The Wire are reacting to Charles in a totally different way than I am. I've never seen The Wire, and this is my first exposure to the actor, so I guess I'm observing with no expectations. Not judging anyone, just noticing the difference between Wire/non-Wire viewers.

Anonymous said...

Really liked the episode as a whole. My only disappointment was seeing Charles so obviously set up for a downfall - we're supposed to take this guy as smart, right? Any fool could see that Kevin as a receptionist would fail nigh-instantly. And while Stanley could conceivably respond to increased responsibility (remember how he briefly went crazy in "The Job" in an attempt to get Michael's job?), it's more likely just another factor to Charles' downfall. It just doesn't seem like Charles would pick Stanley, who was doing a crossword puzzle at that exact moment.

Now sure, he has limited options. He won't pick Jim for obvious reasons, plus Jim might not actually be that great of a "productivity czar". But why not accountant Oscar? Or it would have been funny to see what Creed would do with a little more power.

Dwight would be the obvious choice, as he's the top salesman in the company and is productivity-insane. But that would be a retread of "The Job" when Dwight takes over the Office, so I'm glad they didn't go in that direction. Maybe Wallace warned Charles that Dwight's a lunatic.

In any case, I'm mostly nervous that this show will have a great season-ending arc that eventually returns to the show to the status quo, and to the tired and overused material that preceded it. Sure, Pam being a salesman at DM would offer a slightly new dynamic - and that's really the only eventual change I see coming at the end of this arc - but it won't provide enough material.

Oh well. I'll certainly enjoy this arc while it lasts.

PS Charles so explicitly threatening Michael also rang a little false to me, even if it was funny to see Michael turn tail so quickly. And Toby's talking head made me laugh out loud.

Joe said...

I think Pam has a protective nature towards Michael. It developed very slowly until the episode of with Pam's art show.

Michael was the only one who went. (Well, Oscar was there, but his boyfriend was a jerk mocking Pam's hard work.) Michael told her how good her work was and how proud of her he was. I think Michael's paper company might have success with Pam helping him.

I'd love for Pam to become a salesperson! Why hasn't Wallace put Jim, the official No. 2 in charge? Couldn't you see two desks in Michael's office with Jim and Dwight being co-managers? :-)

Mark B said...

remember how, during one of the first episodes with Wallace's character, when each branch manager had to prepare a presentation on their financials, Michael did a video of the staff? Because that's all he knows.)

After that, Wallace asked him if he had the financials, and it turns out he did. We just didn't see him present them.