Friday, December 04, 2009

The Office, "Scott's Tots": I am become Scott, shatterer of dreams

A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I use baby talk...
"I have made some empty promises in my life, but hands-down, that was the most generous." -Michael
Because of the nature of Michael Scott's personality, "The Office" sometimes walks this fine line between comedy and tragedy. I thought that Michael making an ass of himself at Phyllis' wedding was the worst we would ever get in terms of Michael spending an episode obliviously hurting other people's lives.

I was wrong.

What Michael did to those 15 kids - whose lives (and parents' spending/saving habits) over the last 10 years have been driven by the belief that he would come through for them - was by far the worst thing he's ever done. It's maybe the worst thing any sitcom character has ever done. If I hadn't just gotten done watching a season of "Sons of Anarchy," I might start wondering if it was the worst thing a TV character, period, had done.

Erin put something of a good face on this big lie by pointing out that Scott's Tots probably worked harder in school because of him (and we did hear from the one kid who stayed out of trouble because of him), but I'm sorry - most of this was unbearable to sit through. If it wasn't for the infectious joy and sweetness that Ellie Kemper has brought to the show as Erin, I might have just shut the episode off after five or 10 minutes.

As for the Dwight/Jim story, I'm with Rick Porter that the writers had to remove Jim's brain to get this to work. Beyond that, it feels like turning Dwight into pure evil, and then teaming him up with the pre-existing evil of Ryan, is a bit much. Rainn Wilson's impressions of his co-stars were very good (his Kevin in particular was spot-on), but Jim needs to nip this stuff in the bud, now. We have to suspend disbelief on this show enough as it is(*) without wondering why Dwight, even with his sales figures, still has a job when Michael hates him, when he's undermining his other boss, and when you figure in all his previous transgressions (notably the fire safety drill).

(*) And why did no one from the Scott's Tots school ever once try to get Michael to offer up some more concrete details about how the college funds were going? Even if Michael kept ducking them forever, wouldn't that have been a trouble sign in and of itself?

Outside of the Michael/Andy teaser, not good times at Dunder-Mifflin Scranton this week, I'm afraid.

What did everybody else think?

103 comments:

Adam said...

Yeah, it's worse than his behavior at Phyllis' wedding, though mildly redeemed by the laptop ... batteries line.

Not my favorite episode.

Anonymous said...

Scott Tenorman Must Die?

Anonymous said...

I had to turn it off when that girl opened the door and the whole class was there cheering for him. The writing was on the wall. Too cringe-y. I did like Pam totally calling him out on it, though.

JasonR said...

The best part (and only part) I enjoyed was Stanley's laugh of pure joy at Michael's predicament. Although, I would think that Stanley might have an issue with Michael pretending to be the great white hope of a bunch of black kids.

As soon as I realized what Michael had done I wondered how are they were going to make this funny. Turns out they really couldn't (except for Erin, who I love).

And I agree about Jim - why have they made him so inept as a manager?

John said...

Certainly the worst episode of the season, and perhaps a series low.

Mel said...

I was just horrified through the whole episode and didn't laugh once. Why would Michael do that? Why would he make such a hurtful promise? When the writers have been doing such a lovely job lately showing us Michael's heart, this just felt like such a slap to all of that. And frankly, I am fed up with Dwight's attacks on Jim. He needs to be fired.

Molly Lambert said...

I don't know, I've been complaining all season that Jim and Pam have become dicks, maybe the writers wanted to remind us what a horrible dick Michael actually is. I was definitely surprised at how totally bleak they went, but I've found all the wedding stuff unbearable so this was kind of a shot of completely dark comedy to me that worked.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that the writers also removed Jim and Pam's senses of humor this season. Analyzing whether Dwight would still be employed "in real life" seems rather silly though---would Creed? Would Meredith? Would Andy? Would Kevin? And obviously Michael would have been fired long ago for his many insane acts. For that matter, would a nearly bankrupt company keep employing Pam and her pathetic sales if she wasn't the wife of the new boss? And a boss who keeps that wife employed while the company can't sell paper wouldn't be around long either. The show doesn't hold up to that sort of scrutiny.

AbbyG said...

It was horrible to watch. But there was a bit of redemption in that Michael KNEW how horribly he'd behaved. He knew it in his core.

And I've had enough of dumb Jim. Can we have Original Recipe, please?

TomV-Piscataway said...

I kept waiting to see if Michael could pull this one out of the fire. No dice. I was squirming in my chair watching him make the announcement to the kids.

The Dwight/Jim storyline was blah. Who didn't see Pam coming as the #2 Employee of the Month?? I did enjoy Dwight's impressions though.

"Maybe Pam's not really pregnant"! My favorite line.

This episode was the definition of cringe...

Adam said...

I do agree Eric Cartman's behavior in Scott Tenorman Must Die represents the worst behavior by a character in a comedy series, ever. I do think as far as tv characters overall go, Vern Schillinger might have him beat.

Anonymous said...

I had to fast-forward through most of this episode. I don’t know who could find any humor in watching a bunch of kid’s dreams be destroyed. It was a horrible thing and it was not funny at all.

And as for the Dwight story, who is going to be on Dwight’s side? I personally get no enjoyment in watching him try to destroy Jim’s career.

Definitely not my favorite episode.

Jerry said...

Molly Lambert, I 100% agree with you about Pam and Jim and how they're written. Pam's now a humorless shrew, and "Boss Jim" is now "uptight Jim". The two don't have to be sweetness and light, but if they're the only two grounded characters, they should at least be likeable.

As far as the episode, I didn't think it was as bad as some here did. I wasn't emotionally invested in the whole "Michael misleads kids" thing as I was when he went nuts at Phyllis' wedding. I felt bad for poor Phyllis but had never heard of "Scott's Tots" or seen these kids before, so I could enjoy the laptop batteries joke. The scenes with Erin were somewhat sweet---I like her work on the show anyway.

The "Dwight sabotages Jim" thing was pointless because you know "Cool Guy Jim" never loses, but at least Dwight's impressions were funny.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic ep. I have a large tolerance for cringe humor and was happy to see it tested here. It actually wasn't even that cringy. It was consistently funny though. the only critique I'm on board with is the "dumb Jim" one. It's too much too soon in his Michaelization.

Finally @ Mr Series Low John, you have got to be kidding.

Shlomo said...

This episode was the definition of cringe--its true. But I still really enjoyed it. I havent been watching this season regularly, so maybe thats why Jim finally getting duped by dwight seemed like something new and interesting.

besides, I think its fine for Jim to not be a great manager--its a whole different skill set. But I think its its really funny and exciting to see dwight (almost) beat out jim in terms of pranking, after Jim has nailed him soooo many times previously.

Matt said...

I think one key is that Dwight is convinced everyone else IS on his side--that everyone else (including and especially Michael) despises Jim as much as he does. Yes, Dwight is just that deluded. (It's similar to Michael's thing with Toby.)

Also, where the hell was Toby during the entire episode?

Bryan said...

I didn't HATE it as many of you did but still not a very good ep. I think though it is a credit to Steve Carell and the creators that we have a sitcom character that we truly believe could do something like this yet we still find some redeeming qualities in him.

As for the Jim thing though- yeah that was bad- and David Wallace's sudden flip-flop at the end was even worse. Lazy lazy writing.

Andrew said...

Boy, Alan/all the commenters complaining, you guys must have HATED the original Office if this was too dark/cringey for you.

I also think Jim's being bad at being a manager is fairly accurate. He was never a stellar employee, and the personality he'd displayed up until the promotion didn't exactly scream 'managerial wiz'.

mp said...

Upon seeing a preview for this episode during Community, I made a conscious decision to not watch it. I figured would read your review and see if my fears of it being too painful to be funny were justified. I’m glad I skipped it. (I guess it will sit on my DVR until I'm bored and watch it out of curiosity...maybe)

Stephen said...

I thought this was a borderline-evil thing for Michael to do, but Erin's comments at the end somewhat alleviated some of that. Most of those kids wouldn't have gone to college or much less graduated high school anyway.

Mike said...

I read all of Alan's stuff, but I've never posted anything until now.

You guys are all being too hard on the show! I will agree the Michael parts were hard to watch. I can understand that criticism. But everything with Dwight was a great new arc. We've never watched Jim fail before, and you can tell he's flustered with the management position because he hasn't quite figured it out yet and allows himself to get into situations like these. Jim's character was always WAY too perfect and it'll be fun watching him get knocked down a little bit.

I think the teaming of Dwight and Ryan for a few episodes has a ton of potential and could make for a huge payoff when Jim finally gets his revenge.

belinda said...

Huh. I actually quite liked this episode. While Michael's lie and its ramifications were just plain awful, I think it feels in line with the character and the show - Like the earlier screwup with the big meeting and many other screwups of Michael, once again, he's doing something way way beyond his scope (which, kind of like the discussion on why David Wallace would bring Michael to tasks he can't do, begs the question, how did the school think he'd pay for 15 sets of, given he's a middle management manager?), with his usual wrong reasons for doing it in the first place (like feeling like a hero, getting other people to like him, etc), but ultimately he meant well (had Michael indeed made it rich, I think he would have paid for their tuition - like he did pay that one guy's books) - of course, turned completely wrong and horrible. Michael knew (most of) the kids' names and seemed genuinely interested and involved in their lives (convo with the saxaphone player) - he seemed to like these kids more than that they're just props to him being a hero. At the same time, of course it's also horrible to see that if Michael was there every year seeing the kids grow up, he had years of time to fess up before the worst possible time, but he never said a word. So, sure, I can see why people seemed turned off.

But his line about lying to himself as well made this story work for me, and why I wasn't turned off. I don't know, it just seems exactly like something Michael would do, and as horrible as the outcome is, Michael's lie and his cowardness and inability to fess up to the lie for 10 years is indeed a huge part of why these kids are still there and graduating from high school. So, I don't know. I liked this part of the episode.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Michael and Erin, and that while he misses Pam as his assistant, Erin has stepped into the job quite nicely as well with her pep talk and has forged a friendship with Michael, very much like Pam (who, indeed is/was the closest with Michael in the office, and the best person there to deal with him) with a softer and more naive touch. It'll be interesting how/if Erin would handle Michael in the company crisis. It's a good Erin showcase.

But, I didn't like the other half of the episode, and at seems to be a setup for a longer story arc at all. Kind of boring and seriously, no laughs.

Graig said...

The episode was definitely cringe-worthy, however there were definitely funny moments. Some of the jokes have already been mentioned, but here are a few that were left out.

-Pam, in a talking head, affirmatively answering Andy's charge that she doubled her sales from 2 to 4. Just a single word, "yup." That was a nice touch, no need to extend that out.

-Kevin's slow response to Dwight saying hello.

-Michael originally interviewing Kevin for a warehouse position.

-While not funny, Michael realizing he had been a jerk to Erin and making her feel good at the end.

All in all, a painful episode to watch, but still some funny parts.

ddm said...

I'm with Alan that while it was a terrible offer to make (and never back off from), why didn't the school do more work to make sure it was real?

But, speaking of suspending disbelief, I am obliged to link to a recent Onion article -- 'The Office' ends as Documentary Crew Gets All the Footage It Needs

TL said...

For all the "cringe worthy" comments/complaints, there was really only about 3 minutes that the uncomfortablity was due to Michael's actual behavior at that moment. Instead, the humor came from the tension of knowing what was coming, and others doing things that would make Michael seem worse (the dance routine, the speeches, etc.).

Contrast that with Phyllis's wedding, where it was actually Michael's behavior that was horrifying.

It was Hitchcock's "bomb under the table," but played as comedy. So that's why it worked for me.

Kelly said...

Yeah, I hated this episode. With the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Now part of it was that my husband and I had a really, really bad day and so we were hoping for a little lightheartedness to make the day better. And we got this instead. Ben ended up falling asleep half way through it and I just sat there and watched it in horror.

I did enjoy Dwight's impressions of his co-workers and I wasn't bothered by Jim's weakness at being a manager. I really think it'll take him a while to learn and excel at his new position so I was okay with him not being able to figure out what the heck was going on.

But the whole Michael thing? Just made me feel sick even with Erin (who I love) to lighten things up a bit.

Jay said...

Between the investors conference episode two weeks back and this one, the Office is clearly trying to get me to kill myself.

And hey, anyone else notice the more pregnant Pam gets the meaner and more humorless she gets? Is one of the writers trying to tell us something?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Boy, Alan/all the commenters complaining, you guys must have HATED the original Office if this was too dark/cringey for you.

I loved Office UK. But Ricky Gervais could pull off playing a character who did despicable things while remaining funny; that's not one of Steve Carell's strengths, and the US writers have wisely steered the show away from that after the first handful of episodes.

Different shows, different tones. And I'm still not sure David Brent ever did anything as awful as this.

Andrew said...

Even after "Scott's Tots," "Phyllis's Wedding" still remains the only US OFfice episode that I have not been able to watch again because of the cringe factor.

Michael's delusion that he would be able to pay for a college education for a classroom of children at once sums up the character. He wants to do good things, he genuinely believes that he is successful and is going to be very successful, and little by little he's coming to face the fact that he is simply a mid-level manager at a failing paper supply company in Scranton.

Michael Scott is no Eric Cartman. He didn't set out to ruin anybody's life, but he did so because of his own lack of self-awareness and simply cluelessness about some realities of the world. But unlike at Phyllis's wedding, where he thought he was being entertaining and relevant, Michael was aware that his mouth wrote a check his bank account couldn't cash and he knew that he was about to disappoint everybody in the room (except, perhaps, for optimistic Erin, who tried to see the best, most optimistic spin.)

Would Dookie, Michael, Randy and Namond have fared different if Michael Scott offered to pay for their college education when they were in 2nd grade?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Scott Tenorman Must Die?

Okay, I'll grant you that. Let's amend it to the worst thing I can think that a live-action comedy character has done.

DolphinFan said...

I thought this episode worked because it was true to who both Michael and Jim really are. I can imagine people saying "this was true to JIM?" so I'll flesh that out a little after talking about Michael's actions here.
Michael was much, MUCH worse in Phyllis' Wedding because his inexcusable actions there were all about him and his delusions--his belief that he was entitled as Phyllis' boss to dominate the ceremony, make an insulting toast, and every other brain-dead thing he did there. But here, he wasn't deluded; he just paved a road with his good intentions and couldn't turn away from it. I had to kind of ignore potential backstory elements that would explain how it took 10 years for his "beautiful lie" to be uncovered (not least that the financial math could not have added up) and in the end just accept that Michael is a well-meaning person who does bad things because he isn't smart enough to balance his heart and his brain. For that, the final scene with Michael and Erin was outstanding, and easily the best/most human performance Ellie Kemper's given so far.
As for Jim...it seems ridiculous that he's not wise to Dwight's Dumb-Ass Plan, but I recall Jim being flustered when the office is united against his ideas before (not just in "The Promotion" but during "Survivor Man") and also that he doesn't react well at ALL when he knows someone doesn't like him and wishes him ill--he might not know specifically that Dwight's still plotting against him after he uncovered the decoy mallard, but he knows SOMEONE has malevolent plans just as surely as he knew that Charles Minor despised him. I recall in Broke that Jim got over his fear-begets-stupidity of Charles when David Wallace backed him up; perhaps Michael will play a part in him turning the tables on Dwight.
And of course, any show that includes the character history where Kevin originally applied as a warehouse worker but Michael saw "something" that led to him being an accountant is worth watching.

Just Being Josh said...

I was absolutely horrified and sick on my stomach the entire episode and THAT'S why this is my favorite show on television. No other series takes something (or someone, i.e. Michael) so far beyond human comprehension while making it feel so real.

It's like a TV version of a thrill ride or roller coaster. Love it!

I thought Dwight HAD Jim this time and I can only hope the Dwight-Ryan alliance lasts longer than the Michael Scott Paper Company. Give us some time to enjoy these story arcs.

Stav said...

Funny, I have watched about five eps of the American Office. I'm sure it's very good, but what can I say I'm a David Brent man. Anyways, the TV was on NBC last night when I turned it on, I missed the first two minutes, but I thought ths episode was sheer comedic genius. Have to agree that the Jim/Dwight storyline did nothing fr me, but Michael Scott was positively David Brentian today. Very good stuff. Also I saw 30 Rock for the first time. Very funny episode.

Just Being Josh said...

Oh and does no one realize that Jim is becoming more inept as a boss (and human) because that's what happens to you when you climb the ladder at Dunder Mifflin.

My dream series finale for this show is Michael taking David Wallace's position in corporate and Jim taking Michael's job at Scranton and the episode ends with Jim's Darth Vader-like transformation to Michael Scott.

To me that's the underlying theme to what this show has always been about - what the office does to a person.

Remember Jim trying to schedule the birthday parties on the same day on season 4? As much as he tries to be Jim as a boss, you have to be Michael to make this bunch of misfits work together, and that's what we're slowly starting to see from him.

Love it all...

Craig said...

Maybe this says something about me but I found the episode hilarious. I don't need my TV shows grounded in reality, let alone a situation comedy. I want to be able to laugh and this provided plenty of them. When I watch 30 Rock, do I wonder how Dr. Spaceman keeps his medical license? No, I revel in the sharp writing and uproarious situations. Again, maybe I ask too little of my comedies but the buildup to him having to tell the class he couldn't pay for college I found very funny. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to continue to be a bad person and find a puppy to strangle.

Jim said...

As someone who enjoys the occasional Brentian aspects of Michael Scott, what made this episode too uncomfortable was the racial aspect, and, as someone pointed out, none of the adults at the school ever asked Michael to provide financial data, the reporter never thought it odd that a recently promoted middle manager made a promise like this? People who do this sort of the thing are usually older millionaires who have some visible means of following through.

On the Jim/Dwight thing: Too many internal contradicions. Jim using Dwight's numbers, Oscar handing Dwight twenty dollars without question, the twenty dollars contributions of a dozen or so employees adding up to $1000, nobody else in the office seeing right through Dwight. But I do think the Dwight/Ryan Alliance of Douchery holds some promise. We're do for an end-of-season humiliation of Ryan, aren't we?

But god, Rainn Wilson's impersonations were hysterical. I was waiting for his Phyllis or Kelly, or please god let it be among the on line out-takes, his Angela.

Nick said...

I gotta say, this episode was very funny to me. Im an Office addict, i have every season on DVD and have watched every episode at least 50 times over. The Scott's Tots part of this episode, to me, was gold. im a fan of cringe-comedy and i thought they did a great job with it. i agree with some of you who said Michael showed true compassion for these kids because he knew almost all of their names, and he remembered details about them (i.e. saxophone bit) It's obvious that if he did indeed become rich he would have loved to pay for their education. Now regarding the other story,i get it, but i don't necessarily like it. Someone mentioned that Jim as an employee didn't have the skill set to be a good boss. I actually like how Jim is having a hard time with the whole transition because although i like Jim we have spent the entire series watching Jim win every battle. So its nice to see him taken down a little bit. We have also seen Jim defeat Dwight every year and now that Dwight is turning the tables a little bit is interesting and a nice change of pace. Now the one thing i hate and have hated since it all came about is the progression of the Pam character. ever since she left for NY her character has completely changed. Pam was lovable and sweet as a receptionist. Her comedy was very fitting to her character and she fit perfectly as Michaels go to girl for all his problems. Since leaving for NY he character has gotten worse and worse and at this point, i don't think she's affecting the show in a positive way. it may be unrealistic but i kind of feel that the writers are setting Pam up for a move back to reception (due to her poor sales numbers) i would love for Jim to get moved back to his old position (due to the fact that DM is going under and they can't afford 2 managers salaries) Erin is a nice fit and they could possibly be setting her up for a promotion by mentioning her interest in accounting and Michaels "feeling" about her similar to his "feeling" about one Kevin Malone.

Lauren said...

I kept waiting for Dunder Miflin to bail Michael out and have the company sponsor all the kids. I guess they've been suffering from the recession so that would have been a little unbelievable, but I was surprised he didn't call up corporate to ask them to do it. Would have made for a better ending.

rks said...

I think though it is a credit to Steve Carell and the creators that we have a sitcom character that we truly believe could do something like this yet we still find some redeeming qualities in him.

Steve Carell is able to portray Michael with an inner warmth the same way Carroll O'Connor was able to play Archie Bunker. You cringe at the words coming from their mouths yet you're still able to like them and accept them as flawed human beings.

What Michael did to those kids was beyond terrible but it didn't surprise me because he seems to live in his own little fantasy world anyway. (It doesn't excuse it but it does make it more understandable.) Reality is not his friend. He often pretends the facts don't exist until the situation is towering over him and there's no way out.

Anonymous said...

This Episode was funny. This isn't a real documentary, so keep that in mind. I think some people take it way to seriously. There were other episodes that didn't even have a laugh in it, so this episode was not that.

Anonymous said...

Besides the level of detail in every one of Jim/Dwights pranks against one another, what made them funny was that at the end of the day they were harmless. Dwight intentionally trying to get Jim fired,while Jim has a baby on the way, is down right mean not funny. This has been a bad bad season of the office. Erin seems the be the one bright spot on most episodes.

srpad said...

This episode was extremely pain ful to wach but I didn't hate it. As others have said, we can't really be angry as these are the characters they have given us.

Michaels actions here are pure Michael Scott. He didn't promise those kids what he did and take it awya becaus he is evil. he did it because he jsut assumed in 10 years he would be rich and could do it (also married with tons of kids and best friends with Jim and Pam :-).

As reality would have it, he couldn't afford it, but to him the Promise was just as good an act as coming through with the money. That is Michael: oblivious but basically a good person.

With the Jim story, it has been well established that Jim is a poor manager and is in over his head. This story was just something that got away from him. That said, I have to amdit I was expecting to find out that Jim was a step ahead of Dwight the entire time but not shocked that they didn't go that way.

The Jim story is interesting because they have danced around the fact that Jim is basically crushing all his dreams working at Dunder Mifflin (the closest they came to tackling it head on was the episode that had the commerical for Second Life). He deals with it with sarcasm and humor but sooner or later I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Okay, to end on a positive note, Dwight's impressions killed and I loved that in the cold open, Michael said, "Thank you; Thank's a lot" in his Elvis voice.

Also in the dictionary under "Cute" is a picture of Erin.

Emily N. said...

I agree with Alan and the other commenters frustrated with the horrific downer of a story for Michael and the terrible Dwight/Jim storyline, especially how dumb Jim was being. Though I liked the cold open, Dwight's impressions and the ending, I will never watch the bulk of this episode ever again. I barely managed to watch it once. For me, the cringe-worthiness was even more painful than "Phyllis' Wedding."

HarrySTruman2 said...

... I was kind of touched that Michael gave the one kid the checks for his books, at least it showed he was human!

angryrunner said...

I don't know about the Jim "brain ectomy" angle.

We've gotten some evidence that he's just not good as a manager, and this just supports that point. He didn't care enough about what happened to think about Dwight's potential undermining, probably because he's distracted and clearly, just not tuned in or able to empathize with his fellow employees. And its consistent with him (and Pam) being completely humorless as of late; he's just not with it.

That said, its interesting to see how he's apparently buddies with David Wallace. (And for those who don't realize it...contrary to how the show makes it appear, its a 2+ hour drive from Scranton into NY depending on traffic. So having dinner with someone you work with on a weekend?) It explains why Wallace wasn't willing to lose Jim who while a good salesman hadn't really shown any evidence of being able to leap into branch management. He clearly knows Michael has his strengths and keeps him around for that, but this adds an interesting angle.

Michael said...

The dinner party episode was, for me, the most cringe-worthy episode of the series. Far more cringey than Phyllis' wedding. "Scott's Tots" was more "sad, how's he going to get out of this" while the dinner party was "I'm almost uncomfortable watching".

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of things:

I didn't think this was Brentian comedy. The Office (US/UK) are about pathological behaviors that grow out of Office life and corporate culture generally. This was Michael completely outside of the office setting. This was cringeworthy in a Curb or (especially) Eastbound and Down sort of way, and I didn't feel it worked. (In contrast, the cringeworthiness at the corporate meeting a couple weeks ago felt completely appropriate to me.)

Jim has never been a good boss. We know a bunch of people have never particularly liked him (Stanley, Toby, Phyllis is suspicious of Pam...). He did have to me a bit stupider than usual here -- particularly in the payoff scene, when he really should have known it was Dwight -- but I don't see that the ending would have been different. The staff is primed to dislike Jim and even if Jim tried to blame Dwight I bet it wouldn't have worked. I think it all would have worked better if it had been emphasize that everyone's still freaked out about what's going to happen to Dunder Mifflin.

Kathy said...

I think what I hate the most about the Jim/Dwight storyline is that Dwight is attacking Jim's character rather than his ability as a manager. The suggestion last night was that Jim is dishonest and I really don't like that.

J said...

Michael knew (most of) the kids' names and seemed genuinely interested and involved in their lives (convo with the saxaphone player) - he seemed to like these kids more than that they're just props to him being a hero.

Absolutely agree with Belinda here. Though it made it hurt more because he was sabotaging the lives of people about whom he cared, it was really surprising to see how involved Michael had been with these kids in the first place. And ultimately -- though it was far, far short of a good excuse -- the admission that this was all a reflection of a shortcoming in his own life's ambitions worked for me, dramatically.

(It would have been a nice band-aid to have him make a more logical pitch towards atonement -- get the company or his customers to sponsor the students, involve HR in arranging financial aid, etc. The statistical citation in the car was just invented rationalization, and that sort of made things worse for me.)

OTOH, I hated the Dwight's Evil Plan to Take Down Jim thing. If Jim is a lousy manager and lousy character, at this point, at least Dwight's lunacy was good comic relief. Now they both suck the fun out of the room.

fgmerchant said...

That was horrible. I literally had to stop and come back after a few minutes once I had built up the courage to go through it. I can see how the writers must have thought this would be a good idea, but any episode that makes you want to shoot yourself when you are just a viewer is a huge fail!

Even Michael must have known that promising something like that would have been a bad idea!

I was hoping for a payoff at the end where the kids would reveal that thanks to his promise, they don't even need his money because they all have full scholarships. Then, of course, he would turn around and promise tuition to another set of third graders! At least then I wouldn't have felt that Michael ruined all those kids lives. By waiting that long to tell them, he may have been too late for them to get much financial aid or scholarship help!

My view of Michael Scott may have been changed forever!

I'm also shocked that Jim didn't figure out that Dwight was behind all this!

debbie said...

For that matter, would a nearly bankrupt company keep employing Pam and her pathetic sales if she wasn't the wife of the new boss? And a boss who keeps that wife employed while the company can't sell paper wouldn't be around long either. The show doesn't hold up to that sort of scrutiny.
I think everyone is overestimating the efficiency of modern businesses. Every single office setting I've worked in has employed a fair share of creepy workers, dumb workers, misfits, etc. Also, I've seen plenty of occurences of nepotism...anyone who's had a government job should be well educated in that.
That's what I've always enjoyed in the American version of "The Office;" most of themes hit a little too close to the bone.

Anonymous said...

Jim struggling as a manager is one thing. Jim being dumber than a box of hammers is another. Why would he accept Dwight's anonymous spreadsheet? Why would he spend only three minutes thinking about the whole Employee of the Month program? When his name came up as the winner why wouldn't he just stop rather than moving onto the next name? Sorry, this is the sort of thing they did with him and Charles Minor last year and I didn't enjoy it then.

Finally, the idea that being manager of DM Scranton turns you into Michael Scott? No, no, a thousand times no! Michael Scott has always been a dysfunctional boob who has managed to work himself up to a position of authority. No adult could be transformed into him.

Michael G. said...

Pam calling out Michael was good, as were Dwight's impressions, especially since it wasn't just voice but overall appearance.

Walter said...

I thought this was a borderline-evil thing for Michael to do, but Erin's comments at the end somewhat alleviated some of that. Most of those kids wouldn't have gone to college or much less graduated high school anyway.

Really? The comment that appeases Michael Scott also works for you? The one that is said to soothe the ego and feelings of a character that has made false promises in the hopes of adulation and praise makes you feel okay about it all? I understand the writers here were showing how myopic Michael Scott can be but to think that the self rationalizing this delusional character does to rest easily at night is taken as a pill of alleviation for the viewer is somewhat disturbing.

vlad said...

this episode continued the horridness that has been this season. to say this was in the spirit of the british office just because it was awkward is absurd. the british office was awkward, yes, but not at the expense of believability and outright cruelty. that is the difference. it is impressive and entertaining when you build that situation out of character not when you start by thinking what will be an uncomfortable situation and graft it onto characters on whom it doesn't fit. the american office continually fails in this regard.

parks and recreation may at times traffic in awkward situations but they all stem from the characters rather than looking down upon them.

it isn't the unnecessary cruelty that i find bad or frustrating here it is the bad writing that works from situation to character rather than developing a cringe inducing situation out of character.

Anonymous said...

It was horrible to watch. For me, it was worse than Phyllis's wedding. Yes, it was in character. But so are so very many other possible scenarios. I would rather have seen somewhere else where Michael's desire to be a hero trumped his ability to do so.

The other problem with the Jim/Dwight storyline is that not only does Jim need to be dumber than a box of hammers, so does everyone else in the office. The "problem" shouldn't have existed in the first place and was the type of problem that can be fixed in 3 minutes in the second place. And David's cop-out flipflop at the end of the phone call just made the whole thing a waste of time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I neglected to mention it in my review, but the Employee of the Month subplot did have one good moment: Andy's talking head about all the other places he worked that had an EotM program, including Lehman Brothers, Enron and Bear Stearns.

Matt Wilstein said...

Highlight of the night, the Scott's Tots song:
http://www.gotchamediablog.com/2009/12/office-scotts-tots-song.html

Jim said...

The Jim story is interesting because they have danced around the fact that Jim is basically crushing all his dreams working at Dunder Mifflin (the closest they came to tackling it head on was the episode that had the commerical for Second Life). He deals with it with sarcasm and humor but sooner or later I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I always thought Jim buying his parents' house was a sign of resignation. Jim doesn't aim high. He likes Scranton, a couple of episodes have insisted on his lack of any interest in NYC. It's just that Scranton, and his industry, don't offer the kind of future they did to his parents' generation. Analogous to Tim turning down David Brent's job, even recommending Gareth. Likewise, Pam found being a graphic artist too challenging, or at least she wanted it less than life with Jim. it was clearer in the British version, but even Tim/Dawn and PB&J will have pretty mediocre lives, even if they get each other. Someone recently wrote an essay about The Office being very sad, and in spite of the great comedy and characters, that was always the point, at the BBC and NBC.

http://www.theawl.com/2009/12/meghan-keane-the-office-is-the-most-depressing-show-on-television?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheAwl+%28The+Awl%29

Cringer said...

Loved it! One of the funniest episodes of the season. The cringe factor is good.

Ben G said...

One of the best episodes this show has done. Seeing as the writers of this episode, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, also wrote another all-time fav of mine with "Dinner Party", I think they are writing my ideal version of the Office. Incredibly awkward, real, and just funny without being sappy.

Maybe i'm a horrible person, but i'd take this episode 500 times over the Jim/Pam wedding any day.

Imamarilyn said...

My favorite episode ever was Phyllis' wedding, so it's not surprising I liked this episode so much. Michael was just completely unlikable, and so very...Michael. I enjoy the cringing and the discomfort. That is, in my opinion, what makes The Office such a great show. I agree with Andrew that it was reminiscent of Season 1.

Loved it when Jim told Dwight he'd see him tomorrow and Dwight answered, "Apparently." Over my 30-plus years in the workplace, I have seen many people who should have been fired long ago, so it's no surprise to me Dwight is still hanging in there.

Anonymous said...

Dwight is the no. 1 salesman in Scranton, so I can see why he's not fired.

And, they did have that one time when he was fired covering for Angela and he worked at Staples. Wait, or did he quit?

Thinking about that, I really miss Angela and Dwight as a couple. That made Dwight more human and more bearable.

abbey normal said...

THE WORST episode of this season--HATED the Michael plot and got really annoyed with Jim. I wanted to smack Dwight really hard. Wake up Jim!!!

I know I won't be able to watch this one when it hit's syndication. It was too painful to watch.

Anonymous said...

nobody else got the feeling when Erin was humming the song in the car that maybe Erin is Miss Right for Michael? I sure did.

Anonymous said...

WORST. OFFICE. EVER.

Dan Jardine said...

Wow. I really liked it. Then again, I loved the BBC original. Guess I have a higher tolerance for cringe-inducing behaviour.

Anonymous said...

While the EOTW subplot was weak, I had no problems with the Michael Scott storyline. I admired how dark and cringeworthy it was. It put all so called "uncomfortable" based comedies to shame. What bothers me more than making an audience uncomfortable, are shows that are essentially mean-spirited, which this was not. Also, did I misinterpret the episode where he ran a family run paper company out of business? And that episode had no tagged on happy ending. I remember thinking when that show ended it was truly the darkest episode of network television I had ever seen. This seemed a similar episode, but I feel that the writers probably believed their tagged on happy ending.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a regular Office watcher, but I happened to watch last night's episode. I'm amused that everybody seems so focused on the moral quality of Michael's behavior. He's a sitcom character after all. It's not as if he really reneged on a promise to any real children. He's supposed to behave in ways that make us laugh. That he did, at least to an extent. His attempts to explain himself and then offer up some batteries was at least mildly amusing. Plus we got the benefit of seeing the character have a moral epiphany. Personally, I didn't think the laughs were worth the long set up, but others may disagree. I don't think the Office would be very funny if the characters all behaved in ways that seemed morally acceptable to the majority of viewers.

Anonymous said...

nobody else got the feeling when Erin was humming the song in the car that maybe Erin is Miss Right for Michael? I sure did.

To be completely serious, if the writers were ever thinking to go there, I think that would have a lot of potential, taking the long view (emphasis on long).

Especially since things have settled from the MSPC buyout, Jim, Pam, and Ryan have all come to a sort of acceptance of their respective stations at Dunder Mifflin. As a newcomer, fresh and unassimilated into the office grind, Erin is the only one left that can serve as the audience surrogate. I think that the reactions to the characters this season make sense with that in mind.

I was initially opposed to fleshing out the Erin character, which I thought was perfect the way it was, but now I realize that doing so was necessary to help balance out the show. Ellie Kemper has certainly risen to the task.

Dennis said...

I don't know if I've just gotten past it or not but when I watched the original Office a couple of years before the Amerk remake, there were a lot of moments for me when I wanted to look away because it was so awkward.

But now I've gotten to the point where it doesn't bother me at all and I enjoyed last night's ep and i was just waiting for Micheal's reveal regarding the truth,

S.C. said...

Wow. I really liked it. Then again, I loved the BBC original. Guess I have a higher tolerance for cringe-inducing behaviour.

I would argue it isn't the genre of cringe-inducing comedy that I have a problem with in this episode but rather the writing and execution.

The impression I was left with was that the awkwardness came first and the writers manipulated characters to achieve this. There is nothing inherently wrong with upping the awkwardness of a comedy, and when executed well it can be quite brilliant. But part of that success is that it comes from a natural place in the character's makeup. The whole Michael Scott plot here felt like they wanted to push the awkwardness as far as they could and in doing so deviated from the writing of situations that stem from characters, instead contorting what are fairly complex characters into props for cringe-inducing moments. This then ceases to be funny as it just feels like hollow manipulation. I would say the unnecessary cruelty of an episode like "Scott's Tots" is not the cruelty of the actions depicted but the feeling of manipulation and condescension that the writing gives off.

At its best The Office works because they have come up with complex characters and write situations and relationships that even while delving into awkwardness and cringe-worthy moments come from the complexity of character and a respect for that nuance (one can be cruel to a character and still have respect for the writing of that character). In those moments the awkwardness is earned and is hilarious because of the depth of character. This is what I find the British Office to do exceptionally well. All too often the American Office leaves this behind for the simple gag of a situation or plot that seems to be grafted onto the characters or view them as place holders that serve the all too simple goal of making something as cringe-inducing as possible.

So, no, it isn't a question of being more tolerant of "cringe-inducing" moments but realizing that these moments aren't funny anymore when they don't reflect and grow out of the nuances and depths of the characters they are using. This leads to the cruelty of the show which isn't that of putting a Michael Scott in a situation we see as "bad" or awkward, etc. but in doing so in a way that feels manipulative and unearned.

r said...

hey alan and readers - i agree about the part about jim's brain. i've actually been feeling bad/second hand embarrasment with jim's character since the promotion.

yesterday i read this really interesting and insightful article about jim being a tragic character because has already realized his full potential and has plateaued. some really interesting comments on the show as of late.

read here:

http://www.theawl.com/2009/12/meghan-keane-the-office-is-the-most-depressing-show-on-television

MikeS said...

This was a bit of a tough episode to sit through. I didn't find the primary story of Scott's Tots to be so despicable, because it was too corny and cartoony to feel legit, like the episode earlier this season where Michael, Dwight and Andy determined that the insurance salesman was a mobster.

The Employee of the Month story also fell short, because Jim should know way more than to trust Dwight to spearhead anything, unsupervised.

But, in that train wreck, I did like some things. I finally have turned the corner on Erin, and really started to like her. I didn't dislike her, but I hadn't really seen enough personality out of her before.

Dwight's character pretty much carried the humor, I liked the impressions of his coworkers.

The end of the show, just before the credits was actually the most compelling part. The single LOL moment of the show for me was when Ryan whipped out "My Diabolical Plan" with Dwight's name right on the cover.

It appears to me that this episode will springboard a scenario where Dwight and Ryan work together, perhaps for the first time since Dwight's salesman initiation. I don't want their diabolical plan to work, but it could infuse the show with that office style comedy that seems somehow lacking a little bit this year.

Anonymous said...

When Michael Scott does it to, it's uncomfortable satire. When the state of Michigan does it, it's a real-life tragedy (the recently reneged Michigan Promise scholarship)... this one hit a little too close to home for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind Dwight trying to sabotage Jim, and actually like the idea of him teaming up with Ryan. In fact, I was disappointed last year when Ryan never followed up on his revenge list (which included Jim) when he first returned as a temp after his fraud at Corporate. But the employee of the month story was just so poorly executed.

In order to compile the stats, Toby and/or Accounting would have had input the data by person, so assigning everyone a random number made no sense. It seems like the only person involved who wouldn’t know the identity of the winner would be Jim, and why would that be necessary?

With all the crazy and inappropriate things that Michael has done over the years, today the employees all decide to call Wallace to complain about Jim? Really? That’s not suspicious at all. That Jim or Pam weren’t smart enough to figure out that Dwight plotted the whole thing was just not believable. I don’t mind Dwight pulling one over on Jim occasionally, like with the bugged pen, but this storyline had so many gaping holes in it, it fell flat.

Abhimanyu said...

Have to agree with everyone. I found the college subplot as bad as everyone else but I was especially ticked off by the employee of the month thing. I'm all for Dwight getting one over on Jim but the whole thing was so humorless, meanspirited and - especially at a time when job security in general is on top of everyone's worry list - disturbing. There is absolutely nothing funny about that plot and its horrifying that Dwight would do such a thing. Michael and Dwight's actions here are amoral to a point that really might degrade my affection for the characters.

Another scary thing is that I think we're actually supposed to buy Erin's rationalization at the end as a sort of 'ok so maybe he didnt do something that bad after all'. Ugh.

Worst episode in a really not very good season.

Craig said...

Obviously in the minority, but I thought it was a great episode with some interesting thematic parallels and echoes. (David Wallace telling Jim he's doing a great job; Michael telling Erin the same.) I've had to turn away from Michael's shenanigans many times before, but the ten years here had a distancing effect for me and unlike other debacles he seemed genuinely sorry for what he had done.

Back at the Scranton branch, I'm enjoying how Dwight's treachery is raising the stakes, and it was balanced by some very funny moments that aren't getting their due. (Dwight's killer impressions of his coworkers. Pam's one-second talking head interview: "Yup!")

Jen L said...

Simply reading the comment made above about Kevin's slow 'hey' to Dwight had me cracking up again.

Dwight has always been malicious to Jim. Remember when Dwight flat-out stole Jim's biggest account? I don't find it OOC, and I enjoyed Dwight's antics, but how hard is it for Jim to say, "I said no managers were to be in the running"? He just stands there and stammers?? I find everyone but Dwight acting OOC. It was very frustrating to watch, more than the Scott's Tots stuff.

Anonymous said...

To be completely serious, if the writers were ever thinking to go there, I think that would have a lot of potential,

Ew. No.

Erin is the only one left that can serve as the audience surrogate.

As likable as many seem to find Erin, what she is not is an audience surrogate. Every episode, the people of Dunder Mifflin Scranton do ridiculous things. We recognize that, Jim and Pam recognize that, and more importantly, they know that we recognize that, which they share with us through their looks for he camera.

Unlike Jim and Pam, or even the others in the office, Erin is incredibly naïve, oblivious, or otherwise uncritical about it all. She has had, what, two talking heads? Not only that, but in this episode she actually reassured Michael for a horrible thing he's done, which he should rightly feel guilty about. I agree with Walter and Abhimanyu: the fact that in the end Michael is to be comforted (and we, the viewers, by proxy) about what he did is deeply disturbing.

Marshall said...

I'd have to diagnose some serious white guilt in the comments here. The episode was hilarious and pitch-perfect in the cringe factor, and the scenes in which all the kids are dancing and the teachers are lauding Michael play out his fantasies of getting respect, in particular from black people. That it's all based on a lie is, of course, what makes the show funny and ironic.

Plus, the way the secondary characters react is classic. Stanley's been sitting on this for ten years (and hasn't done much of anything in the meantime), just for the moment when Michael is made a fool. He even has the news clipping! And Ellie smiling and clapping along as though she doesn't know it's crap, or forgets. Altogether a great episode.

If it were The Wire I would be mourning the wasted lives and futility of good intentions, but this is the Office so I don't have to imagine the lifetime of decisions made on false pretenses. It's awful and funny at the same time.

Number Five said...

The Office's documentary approach makes you feel like the events portrayed on screen are really happening. Intellectually, I know 30 Rock (for example) and The Office are both a bunch of actors in front of a camera following scripts, but there's such a huge difference in style that characters on one show can do all kinds of horrible things and it's hilarious (see Liz and the apartment last episode), but on the other they do come across as terrible. And animated shows since The Simpsons have all had an inherent surrealism, which is why "Scott Tenorman Must Die" is one of the funniest things I've ever seen (and I'm not even a regular South Park viewer).

So normally The Office's humor comes from the documentary approach and soul-crushing workplace setting, combined with great writing, characters, etc. But as many have pointed out, when you move from the small-scale agony of an endless Michael-led meeting to ruining Phyllis' wedding or ruining childrens' lives, it becomes too painful because we're led to think it's actually happening.

And again as has been pointed out, it's funny when Jim and Dwight mess with/prank each other, but Dwight trying to get Jim fired is creepy. Even worse now that Jim has a mortgage and jobs are scarce, as Abhimanyu noted.

This also makes the show more vulnerable to the problem affecting all shows when the writers get more extreme to keep interest (the phrase jumping the shark became way too overused, yes, but it does happen to a lot of long-running shows). There's just less room for The Office to go "out there" vs. something like Arrested Development.

While both stories actually felt true to character, the inherent nature of the show, combined with weak execution (others have noted how much was contrived to keep each one going), did make it a bad episode.

I've been impressed at the generally high quality they've sustained since season 2, but I think it's something that will be harder and harder to avoid.

Tyroc said...

Huh. I liked the Michael plot a lot. The Jim story was the one I found hard to take. As Jim was acting really dumb (as Alan notes.)

But I thought they bought back the Michael thing pretty nicely with his explanation of how he planned to be rich one day and never thought his life would turn out the way it did. It seemed perfectly in character and darkly (very darkly) funny,but sweet as well. I just wish the promos hadn't given away the story.

As for the most evil live-action character on a sitcom, I'm gonna have to go with the character Gordon Jump played when he was on Diff'rent Strokes. The character who diddled poor poor Dudley.

S.C. said...

I'd have to diagnose some serious white guilt in the comments here. The episode was hilarious and pitch-perfect in the cringe factor, and the scenes in which all the kids are dancing and the teachers are lauding Michael play out his fantasies of getting respect, in particular from black people. That it's all based on a lie is, of course, what makes the show funny and ironic.

And I would have to diagnose some fanboy blind appreciation, lack of critical faculties or simple acceptance of bad writing for a feeling of superiority. If any "white guilt" is at play here it is that of being willing to accept the farce of a plot that is offered because you get the wink that the writers are throwing your way. That is bad writing. It is based upon a shared sense of superiority between the writers, director and audience to the characters on screen. It has nothing to do with character and more to do with the privelage of judging. Wow, you get the obvious joke. You get that its funny because its cruel and transgressive. Give me a break. You think you're above it all cause you catch the wink? That it is so easy to diagnose it what makes it lazy and awful writing. And the judgement that those who second guess it is that they don't catch a wink that is given a close-up is absurd. Perhaps they see it telegraphed and see that for the manipulative hackneyed writing it is. It is all about the wink and has nothing to do with character or nuance. Again, this is where the show gets cruel. Not in its pushing anyone to address their "white guilt" but in its willingness to manipulate characters for the sake of a wink.

Mike F said...

Wow, can't believe the review and comments here. I thought this was the funniest episode of The Office that I've seen in a long time.

The pre-credits baby/elvis gag was wonderful. But Scott's Tots was one of the funniest things I've seen on television this year. Its funny because its so ridiculously awful.

If this bit was featured on an episode of Its Always Sunny, I think you guys would be reacting differently. I love when The Office goes into deeply dark comedic territory, always have. Dwight practically lives there...

Mike F said...

Oh, and Dwight's impressions were inspired as well..super funny

Anonymous said...

I can accept Michael's antics within the office because he has power over his victims there. They have to sit through his ridiculous meetings to keep their jobs. It's those times when they move him out into the "real" world such as Scots Tots or Phyllis' Wedding that his cartoonishness doesn't work for me. I can't suspend my disbelief for those moments.

Anonymous said...

To you Office haters: at least they don't have a bordering-on-senility Chevy Chase ruining their show! PS- Scott Tenorman Must Die was pretty F-n funny too!

Nicole said...

Except for the feel good end provided by Erin, I liked this episode. The Office isn't real life despite the documentary feel, so Michael doing this falls in line with his behaviour as we have seen in the past. He has done ridiculous things before so I was not surprised that he would promise this to a bunch of kids because he got caught up in the moment. It was wonderfully cringey and reminiscent of the UK Office episodes, where they never took the feel-good sitcom route.
I think the It's Always Sunny comparison is apt as well because those characters could not actually exist in real life, just as Michael's promise wouldn't go unchecked for this long. The PB&J domestic harmony and office setting lulls us into thinking that these are real people who behave in a way that fits in our world. The writers help this along by making Michael a good salesman despite his overall idiocy. This episode, they pulled the rug from under us, and obviously not everyone liked it.

Considering the strong reactions on both sides, I don't think that it was badly written but just taken in a direction that not everyone wanted it to go.

Dwight's impressions were great, but this subplot was just okay for me.

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

Feh episode, but the bit where Dwight says "Hey" to Kevin then launches into his scheme, only to be interrupted by Kevin's belated "hey" in return, was priceless.
Rob

jeff winger said...

Couldn't agree more, Alan.

This was a new low for the series.

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode! Both the Scott's tots and Dwight's diabolical plan story lines. This was good comedy.

c.u.r. mudegon said...

I loved this episode! Both the Scott's tots and Dwight's diabolical plan story lines. This was good comedy.

great analysis. thanks for the insight. no need to extrapolate.

Will said...

This episode was painful to watch, in a good way.

C. Joseph said...

What an unbelievably awful episode of a show that has completely lost itself. There was a time when "The Office" was so funny I tolerated its most cringe-inducing moments, waiting for the redemption. But for three years now, its humor has been waning, waning, waning, becoming more conventional every day, and then an episode like this: cruel, stupid, ludicrous, and unfunny. They've laid some real eggs this season, but this is the worst of them.

I turned it off halfway through, and I don't think I'll ever be turning it back on.

Mike said...

I confess I skipped over the part where he confessed to the kids. Never liked this part of the Office. It's not fun TV.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone's taking Michael's horrible act too seriously. You gotta suspend disbelief a tad to enjoy. If we're gonna take it so seriously as to say this was such a horrible act, how come in the previous ten years nobody wondered/verified whether some local dilbert office worker was a millionaire philanthropist. It was just fun to see how Michael thinks of himself and how impulsive- he sees the kids, decides to pay for their education- he dates Carol for a few months and photoshops his head into a photo of her with her kids. He likes Holly and plans a life together for them. He meets some kids one day and decides to be a bigshot. I'm not crazy about the Jim as incompetent manager plot.

Graeleight said...

Most evil thing ever done by a live action television character? You are being factitious right?

Because.

Angelus kills Jenny.

Stringer Bell kills D'Angelo (via proxy)

Carcetti refuses the state bailout for political reasons and dooms the kids.

Ben kills Locke
Ben kills his father

The unseen truck driver from the TV movie Duel ... well dueling Dennis Weaver

Caprica 6 snapping a babies neck for the hell of it.

Drifter said...

The most important line was Michael explaining how he thought he'd be a millionaire by 30 then eventually hitting 40 where he was even more broke than when he was at 30. You can draw a direct line through Michael Scott's hopeful/naive expectations through Dunder Miflin's stockholder meeting on through our current economic climate. Scott's Tots, like Michael, like so much of America today, is waking up to find the American Dream harder and harder to reach.

Brian said...

I think The Office has stumbled quite a bit over the past few seasons (I absolutely love seasons 1-3), but it still provides some good episodes from time to time. This week however, was painful. You nailed it Alan.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked this episode a lot. I had no idea what direction Scott or Dwight/Jim's plots were going. Though I was cringing, I never felt my intelligence was insulted.
Carrell did not have a lot of lines, just reacted. I liked Michael's simple honesty when he confessed to the kids, and his feeble attempt to make it right. I think BJ Novak did a good job directing the show.

Arlo J. Wiley said...

I, uh...I thought this was one of the better episodes this season. Not great, but it had a number of really funny moments. This was absolutely the worst thing Michael has ever done, but I enjoyed watching it in that schadenfreude kind of way.

That said, it was basically an irredeemable thing to have done, and you're right, it stretches the suspension of disbelief that ten years could've gone by without the school asking for more concrete plans.

The Jim/Dwight plot was okay, but didn't really go anywhere (like most of the stories this season). I actually like Dwight teaming up with Ryan, though not perhaps for the reason the writers would hope: Jim sucks now. Him going down wouldn't be a bad thing.