Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Office, "The Meeting": I see ghosts

Due to various technical mishaps at the Sepinwall household, I wound up watching tonight's "The Office" on my one TV without any kind of converter box or digital antenna. So the whole thing looked ghost-y and/or snow-y, and the bad picture unfortunately got in the way of some of the jokes. (It took a few lines of dialogue for me to understand the joke about Darryl's sister, for instance.) So I'm going to eschew comment on this one, save to say that the teaser was hilarious, and that the situation set up in the final minutes has a lot of promise.

What did everybody else (who had a normal picture) think?

50 comments:

J.J. said...

I had to rewind the teaser and watch it again, just to see what I missed when I went on a Kevin-like giggle fit as soon as Michael started talking about colonoscopies with the gay guy.

Randy said...

One reason why the teaser is so funny is because it's SO TRUE. A gay friend of mine had that EXACT conversation (possibly without reference to "safe word") with his father. Awesome.

Jeff B. said...

Toby and Dwight on a mission was a lot of fun.

And I agree that what might come on the managerial front is promising.

Drew Sarver said...

The show was great. I'm still shaking my head at the teaser, LOL.

Weck said...

From the Michael/Oscar stuff at the beginning to Dwight screaming at the end I was laughing out loud throughout the whole episode.

I'm glad Michael could swallow his pride and agree to be a co-manager, although this will undoubtedly spell nonstop power struggles between the two this season.

Anonymous said...

Saw on your Twitter, Alan, that you were considering watching the episode on Hulu. Does your cable company offer Primetime On Demand? I just discovered it recently and it's made my DVR situation a lot easier. Like Hulu, shows usually don't go up until the next day, but at least (as Dr. Horrible pointed out) you're not watching on a tiny screen or dealing with constant buffering.

Steve Ely said...

Alan, I hope you'll update the post and/or comment at some length in this thread after you have a chance to watch a less ghostly version of the episode. Always interested in your Office insights.

Anonymous said...

I loved the angle of this show is going. Whether it's just going to be a mini-arc, or a long-standing issue for the rest of the season, the whole concept of Jim succeeding Michael has been planted for several years now. Before, he was freaking out at the concept of working at Dunder-Mifflin for more than a few years, now he's openly pushing for a management job.

Jim has been a little too "perfect" for me, and seeing him squirm under Charles Miner was really funny stuff. We've definitely seen in previous episodes he's not as smart as he thinks when it comes to managing eccentric personalities, and having a wife on the sales staff certainly has ripe story material.

Anonymous said...

Great episode. They really worked the documentary angle well by not letting us hear everything that was going on. They had me on the edge of my seat.

Great performances by Krasinski and Carrell. The looks between them in the final phone call with Wallace were really intense.

I have a feeling that this co-manager scenario could lead to a lot of great episodes, just as the Michael Scott Paper Company arc did last season.

dez said...

I'm still laughing about the teaser. HOLY CRAP (so to speak)!

Was that evaluation from Charles Minor? It sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it.

Dan Jardine said...

Actually the greatness of the teaser, which we all seem to be in agreement on, in some ways took away from the rest of the show, which simply could not live up to the comic genius of that scene. Enjoyed Dwight and Toby as company PIs; this should have been developed a bit more at the expense of the in office sleuthing by Michael and the wedding angst of Pam, both of which were considerably less engaging and amusing.

Dan Jardine said...

Oh, and the evaluation WAS by Toby--during his infatuation with Pam phase.

Whatever happened with that, btw? Is Toby still holding a torch for Pam? If so, why hasn't this been used to wring a little sympathy out of the audience for the poor fella as the wedding nears?

Gooch said...

The only nitpick I have with tonight's episode was Michael's abrupt about face in regards to doing the right thing for Jim at the end. Felt too much like Michael behaving in a particular way because that's what was required for the plot (since you really can't have Jim take a position with another company), rather than how his character would actually behave given his actions and motivations earlier in the episode.

Kent said...

The thing that gets me is that Jim, in fact, is not ready to manage the branch. Michael was right about it, though he hated himself for ruining the chance for a promotion. Every time Jim has tried to run things, it's been, not a disaster, but certainly troublesome in an entertaining way. I loved the moment between him and Michael at the end of Survivor Man when he realizes that Michael might not be so full of it as the though in the wake of his birthday party fiasco. This is the best solution that I can see and I can't wait to see what comes out of it. I'm hoping Jim has some more growing pains since he's definitely a more rounded character when he's not played as the perfect everyman. Andy's cheese tray riff was hilarious (I also enjoyed his problem with his "flirty" cousin.) The opening was funny, though I don't think I got quite a kick out of it as the other people here. It was definitely the subplot that made me laugh the most out of the episode. I love it when Dwight gets to play detective and seeing him come out in the right for once was worth the trip. The bonding between him and Toby was priceless. And no, he wasn't the only one. I love it when he's just absolutely blunt about something obvious that other people dance around.

BigTed said...

Liked the episode, but I'm not too thrilled about the "co-managers" thing. They already devoted an episode to things not going so well when Jim was left in charge, and the conflicts he'll inevitably have with Michael can only echo the problems Pam had with Michael when she was helping him with his own company.

Plus, it just doesn't make any sense -- in a recession, when the company is closing down branches, they're going to pay for two managers to do what was one job? I guess it's just as logical as the idea that they were considering putting Michael in charge of the whole region.

Anonymous said...

Big Ted,

It makes fine sense fiscally. They closed the Buffalo branch to save money. The customers at that branch are now customers at DM-Scranton. As such, Scranton will almost certainly be running at a higher surplus than previously. Of the millions per year they likely save as a result of closing that branch, they can give Jim an extra 5-10 grand to help shift the workload.

Jim said...

It's true that Jim hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but he was promoted, first in Stamford, then again when he came back to Scranton. Also, too, Dunder Mifflin is one screwed up company: Jan was Michael's boss, hired by David Wallace, who fired her to hire Ryan, then brought in Charles Miner, who thought Dwight was the future of corporate America. I can't remember if it was Wallace or Miner who was forced to buy out the Michael Scott Paper company, etc.

I didn't have any problem with Michael agreeing to keep Jim around-- he can't, as Wallace put it, let him go. If Jim isn't Michael's friend, he doesn't have one. And didn't Michael mention Pam and "the baby"? That's Michael's family within the family he's imagined in the Office. Without those two (three), his life is too empty to prop up even Michael's illusions.

Henry said...

Was it just me, or was this a rather mean-spirited episode of The Office? I know Michael's being childish and absent-minded, but this is one of the few times when it felt like (at least to me) he was witholding Jim's promotion intentionally. And Jim called him out on it. Honestly? I wouldn't have blamed Jim if he just took a swing at Michael. But that's not in Jim's character. See how bad the episode is when it gets me to this kind of train of thought? When the characters are unlikeable, the show loses its charm.

I wonder what will happen with Dwight's nascent envy over Jim's upward mobility.

My favorite line? "Please don't talk about my breast milk."

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Andy's ridiculous waiter routine with the cheese platter/trojan horse. Hilarious.

BTW.. c'mon Alan - get the TV issues worked out. You're a TV critic for pete's sake.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You're a TV critic for pete's sake.

Yes, I am. Which means I have magical powers that can instantly solve all DVR-related problems.

Lora said...

I can't believe no one has mentioned Dwight's scream at the end. Priceless!

Anonymous said...

"Well you just tell the mayor he lost six votes"

Great episode. It had office politics, a great subplot and tons of great one-liners and sight gags. I've got really high hopes for this season.

Jesse said...

I partially agree with Henry here. For an otherwise outstanding episode, this one very nearly came to a breaking point for me. I know the show likes to paint Michael's selfishness is very broad strokes, but when his actions have the potential to truly ruin someone's life (see also: trying to bust Toby for pot), it really puts me on edge. Jim is an expectant father with a mortgage, and Michael screwing him over seemed excessively cruel, even for this show. I truly expected Jim to take him up on his offer of a shot to the kisser, and would have cheered him on.

On the other hand, in both this case and Toby's "bust", the show redeems itself by not letting Michael get truly destructive. I just wish karma would come around and bite Michael in the ass a little more. And the co-manager storyline certainly does have that potential.

Zac F. said...

Alan, you didn't know that TV critics get a special password to give to the cable/satellite company that restores their reception to crystal clear picture and sound immediately? ;)

The cold open and the tag were absolutely hilarious and everything in between was funny as well.

If Michael wasn't going to do the right thing and put up Jim for promotion, he was going be very disliked by me for being extremely selfish.

Andy did a great job selling the cheese cart, but I think on some level David and Jim knew what was going on.

Pam trying to see who was coming to her wedding reminded me of my friend who had a heck of a time trying to do the same thing last year. Too bad this episode didn't air last year, because then I would have told my friend what Meredith told Pam regarding food and directions!

I'm sorry, but Daryl's sister definitely looked like a man. Did they cast Caster Semenya in the role?

Dwight and Toby: The Hardy Boys of the 21st Century!

Creed only got four lines this episode, but they were all golden.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Re: Michael's selfishness, there have been episodes where his behavior has crossed a line for me and I couldn't bear to watch ("Phyllis's Wedding" comes to mind), but I don't think this one fits. Michael thinks Jim is trying to screw him over and ace him out of his own job, and so he responds in kind. Then once he realizes Jim was actually trying to help them both out, he tries to fix things, hamstrung as he is by his pathological need to be liked by Jim. In the end, Wallace uwittingly offers him a choice between being selfish and selfless, and Michael chooses the selfless option.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Jan was Michael's boss, hired by David Wallace,

No, Jan and Michael both pre-dated David, who was hired sometime in season two. "Valentine's Day" is all about the branch managers having their first big meeting with the new CFO.

Anonymous said...

Dwight's (hilarious) scream at the end could very well reflect Rainn Wilson's feelings (as well as ours) re. losing the Emmy to...Jon Cryer???

Michael said...

i also loved the teaser except...The joke was such a hilarious concept but I can't help but cringe when I see Michael Scott be part of it as it is just too typical. I don't know how much sense that makes except to say that it was a hilarious joke maybe delivered by the wrong person?

I also love the jokes at the end with both Meredith and Angela..."whatever is the fanciest, unless there are ribs" and "my purse was there"

Steve said...

The best joke was Dwight's incredulous reaction when Darryl asked how he could confuse him with his sister

Rick said...

I don't know about the best joke- there were a lot of them- but the best line, by far, was Carrell's delivery of "No, I think they're talking about me." It was so perfectly self-aware of Michael recognizing how horrible he actually is, with the fear of having people he wants to like him talk behind his back. The show really is at its best when Michael is human.

filmcricket said...

This show is at its most brilliant when it can show Michael being many conflicting things at once, and this episode was a great example of that.

Michael really hates being a manager - he doesn't like making tough decisions, or doing anything to make people dislike him. And we've seen that his rise in the company is due mostly to his genius in sales, as opposed to any skill in managing people.

He also has a man-crush on Jim, and, as others have pointed out, sees himself as the paterfamilias both to the office as a whole and to Jim and Pam's family unit in particular.

So this situation puts him in a quandary: if he and Jim both get promoted, Michael gets moved farther away from his "family" and into a job that doesn't play to his real strengths. He's terrified that Jim might be a better-liked boss than he is. On the other hand, if Jim leaves, he loses both the guy who shows him how to be a man, and the most important part of the mini-family unit, not to mention a pretty good salesman.

On the other other hand, even if Michael's judgment is only based on instinct or jealousy, he's right that Jim's not ready to be a manager. So all these conflicting impulses are coming together and Michael winds up shooting himself in the foot: no promotion for him, and sharing his job with Jim. Losing Jim altogether might have been the worst outcome for Michael but this has to be a close second. Can't wait to see where the writers take it.

Anonymous said...

I think Andy has had some great moments these past couple of episodes. I don't know if that's a result of Ed Helms blowing up a little with The Hangover, but I like the randomness of him wondering if he's gay, and then the stuff with his cousin.

And as much as I like Michael doing the right thing, it would have been more suspenseful if he really had to give up something big in order to keep Jim around. Or, if Jim didn't have another job offer, so Michael would have really been screwing him over. But co-managers will be fun.

And I agree that Dwight's reaction to Daryl was the best. We've seen that setup so many times where the guy sheepishly backs down (kind of like what Toby does), but Dwight is so obtuse that he fires back exactly what everyone is thinking.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

How does it make sense for an office in Scranton to handle business in Buffalo, which is north of the opposite side of the state?

Anonymous said...

The official roster of Dunder-Mifflin branches seems a little unclear to me still, but I think there are also branches in Utica (where Karen works) and Albany.

Doesn't really answer the question as to how any of this would affect Scranton, I guess.

Alan Sepinwall said...

There's definitely a Utica branch (run by Karen), which is closer than Scranton. However, as we've been told repeatedly, the Scranton branch is the most successful one, thanks to Michael's idiot savant salesmanship, so I could see David thinking the extra hour's travel time isn't as important as putting the rain-maker on it.

debbie said...

Last night I was reminded how perfect the actor who plays Toby is for the part. He's just great.

Steve said...

Anyone else see the Michael/Jim manager/co-manager thing as an allegory of the Leno/Conan situation?

DolphinFan said...

This was a good, not great, episode. I would guess that it would increase in quality if it ends up being part of a larger story arc that's a smash hit, similarly to "New Boss" standing out because of how strong the MSPC plot turned out to be.
I don't think we've ever seen Jim anywhere near that angry at Michael, and I initially thought he had every right to be feel that way. On reflection, though, I'm more angry at David Wallace: he kept Michael in the dark as noted and expected, I don't know, for Michael to have complete trust in Dunder-Mifflin. Does he have retrograde amnesia? The company has screwed over Michael enough recently that he had no basis to believe that the questions about Jim were anything but a step before lowering some kind of boom on him (either giving Jim the Scranton job outright or transferring Jim to another office and leaving, gulp, Dwight as undisputed 2nd-in-command). Michael was wrong and the situation was more wrong; one of the really well-done touches of this episode is that both David Wallace and Michael did make the right calls at the end. Now we have to watch Dwight suffer, and I'd feel sorry for him if he hadn't spent so much time mocking Jim and fluffing Charles Minor. What comes around...
For the other stories, the Toby-Dwight interaction was funny enough (my favorite parts were Darryl's cousin being his double and Toby's wry summary of how they didn't realy resolve anything) and both Pam and the office mates managed to look like jerks at the end. Pam couldn't have made it clearer that she didn't want them at the wedding, and they couldn't have made it clearer that they were going to do nothing to change that perception. I don't mean this in a cruel way but Pam & Jim and everyone else in Scranton?
They deserve each other.

AndyW said...

This episode was a little mean-spirited to really appeal to me, although I appreciate how it sets things up for the rest of the season. But, anyhoo, how great were John Kransinski's expressions of betrayal? He looked like somebody just shot his dog. It was nearly as great as his expressions in the baby reveal last season.

Imamarilyn said...

After not really loving last week's episode that much, I totally enjoyed this. I think Michael relented because of Pam, not Jim.

So many great scenes! Andy with the cheese was hilarious. I liked the Dwight/Toby alliance. Dwight is at his best when he is paired with one other person.

My favorite moment? When Michael was getting colonoscopy advice from Oscar.

Classic episode.

Arlo J. Wiley said...

I'm interested in where the show could go from here, but like last week's episode, nothing struck me as particularly hilarious. I guess I'm in the minority, but this show definitely seems to have lost something. There's a reason why the British Office is so perfect: It had only had to run for 12 episodes (and a special).

Tyroc said...

Great episode of the funniest series on the television.

Bobby said...

Was I the only one who thought that the "cool new idea" at the end was actually the same idea pitched by David earlier, just worded differently so that Michael would accept it.

Jim running the "day to day stuff" and Michael focussing on "client relations" and "big picture stuff" does sound to me like Jim will be Branch mananger and Michael will have a job similar to Charles' on a smaller scale.

Wonder when we'll see Charles back also, can't think he'd be too happy with the decision (albeit taken over his head) to appoint Jim effectively as branch manager.

As a whole a great episode. Loved the way it was produced to show nothing of the meeting with Jim and David.

The Dwight and Toby angle was a welcome distraction, odd to see the two finding some common ground but perhaps this is a pre cursor for sonething bigger now that Dwight is now officially below Jim (He's been that way for a long while now but lets be honest he's never believed it to be that way).

Loved the episode, I think this sets up an intriguing few weeks and months, a Michael/Jim power struggle will be very interesting.

Maxed Out said...

Decent episode, but it is venturing back into things that make me cring with uncomfortableness. Michael is so mean and selfish and unaware sometimes that it sucks the funny out. I hope the two co-managers storyline doesn't do that too much in the upcoming episodes.

Meridith is always good for laugh (or ribs if you have them), and the opening with Oscar very funny.

Anonymous said...

The military runs a similar system of management. You have an executive officer that typically runs the day to day operations. And you have the commander who worries about big idea stuff, external relationships with other units, the only difference is that the commander is clearly the one "making decisions" and is "the boss".

The problem with the new office setup is they didn't put Michael in charge of everything. There will be too many chiefs. I think this drama will play off for a few episodes and then David will have to lay down the law with michael clearly "in command".

Btw anyone ever wonder why the CFO is making CEO decisions at D.M.?

belinda said...

I like the small scenes (With Darnell, the whole wedding RSVP thing, Andy and his snacks) that were hilarious, but I also am not liking the main plot of co-managers. Like a previous poster mentioned, Jim managing the office once before had been a colossal failure, and Jim wasn't as good at being a manager as he thought he would be (at least, not in managing the Scranton branch).

I'm a bit skeptical that Jim thought not telling Michael about his plan was a good idea. Michael, as idiotic as he may seem, surely will never warm to the idea Jim getting his own manager job, and Jim cannot NOT know that. Thus, I don't even think Jim deserved his promotion with that oversight.

Jeff said...

My problem is this:

Wallace says "Michael gets bumped up, Jim gets bumped up."

Seems like a plan he has thought out and probably got CEO level approval for.

Then the fecal matter hits the spinning air mover and Wallace has to back pedal.

Then, in the end, Michael is on-board, but Wallace comes up with an even stupider idea -- CO-Managers?

Why not go back to the original plan? Even an idiot should be able to see that Co-managers is going to be an unworkable solution.

CAPTCHA: GENZO (adj.) Hunter S. Thompson before all the drugs.

dez said...

The Dwight and Toby angle was a welcome distraction, odd to see the two finding some common ground but perhaps this is a pre cursor for sonething bigger now that Dwight is now officially below Jim (He's been that way for a long while now but lets be honest he's never believed it to be that way).


He's not going to believe it now, either, which should make for some fantastic comedy.

Anonymous said...

I know Jim tried to explain it (and for story's sake it needed to be done) but I'm having trouble understanding WHY Jim thought his plan would go smoother without telling Michael. Jim says it was to keep Michael from getting in the way, but eventually Michael would hear about the plan and I can't see why Jim thought Michael would screw up an idea for both to get promoted.

BC said...

Did we ever hear Andy's cousin's name? Can't remember if it was a woman's name. Would be hilarious if it was Chris/Pat/Shawn ambiguous.