Friday, March 20, 2009

The Office, "New Boss": Charles in charge of Michael's wrongs and his rights

Spoilers for last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I go to a two-way petting zoo...
"I am thrilled that the new boss has taken such an active interest in all the responsibilities that I'm supposed to have. Thrilled." -Michael
"New Boss" didn't make me laugh a whole lot (other than Jim's tux-clad antics), but it was extremely satisfying anyway, and not just because I'm a drooling fanboy for "The Wire" who was psyched to see Idris Elba (aka Stringer Bell) on another of my favorite shows.

Every now and then the series deals with the question of how Michael stays employed. Half the time that's been because his immediate superior (first Jan, then Ryan) was such a flake that they let Michael run roughshod over them, the other half because he's such a great earner. As he tells David Wallace, "I thrive under a lack of accountability." But what happens when you place Michael under a boss who isn't crazy, whose buttons aren't easily pushed, who has no patience for Michael's eccentricities, and who just wants people to follow the rules and work hard? How does Michael deal with someone who can bluntly tell him that "This is a workplace. It isn't designed for your vanity."?

Not surprisingly, Michael dealt with it by retreating back to his inner eight-year-old. And then, in a pleasantly surprising way, he dealt with it by giving David a very mature argument about his long and productive service to the company. And when David recognized that, and thought he could placate Michael by giving him back his anniversary party -- giving the baby his bottle and hoping the tantrum would stop -- Michael had a rare moment of wisdom and saw David's move for the empty, placating gesture that it was...

...and quit.

Now this will be very interesting, won't it? Obviously, Steve Carell isn't leaving the show, so eventually we're going to reach a point where Michael returns to Dunder-Mifflin -- possibly once David crunches the numbers and realizes how much business they're going to lose without the company's top salesman -- but I look forward to seeing things play out until that point. Will we see Charles have to take a hands-on approach to running Scranton? Might Dwight finally get the promotion he's always desired? (Because Jim sure isn't, based on that first impression.) And in this economy, even with his sales skills, what kind of jobs are going to be out there for Michael?

Some other thoughts:

• If I have one complaint about the episode, it was the scene where Charles refers to Jim's position as Michaels number two as "made up." It's not imaginary or ceremonial like Dwight's old title; it's an actual position that was created by Jan back in season 3's "Branch Closing" to keep the company from losing both Josh and Jim in the same day. Obviously, Jim was so thrown by having the worst day of his career in front of the guy to argue back, but I'm hoping the writers don't try to retcon away the idea that Jim does, in fact, have a place on the D-M corporate ladder that's higher than anyone else in Scranton.

• Lots of great talking heads in this one, from Pam making fun of Jim wearing the tux on the worst day possible, to Pam explaining how she reads Michael's moods based on the maturity of his jokes, to a soaking wet, mascara-smeared Angela making plain her desire to seduce Mr. Charles Minor.

• And speaking of the attractiveness of Mr. Minor, I loved Kelly literally running over the camera man to chase him down in the parking lot.

• Phyllis is still being sensitive about being kicked off the Party Planning Committee, isn't she?

• If you somehow haven't seen "The Wire" -- only the best drama in TV history -- then head over to YouTube to enjoy two of Idris Elba's finest managerial moments, as he discusses the merits of a 40-degree day and tries to introduce Robert's Rules of Order to a pack of drug dealers. (Warning: language is seriously NSFW.) Then go rent the DVDs. Quickly.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

If I have one complaint about the episode, it was the scene where Charles refers to Jim's position as Michaels number two as "made up."
I had a problem with this, too. Granted, Jim did not want to push the issue, but you'd think that someone like Charles would know each branch's hierarchy before coming to visit.

I love the fact that Angela is not going to be shy about her attractions anymore; everyone knows she's secretly a little heartbreaker.

Anonymous said...

I seriously hated this episode. I didn't laugh once and actually found it a chore to get through. Part of what makes the show work is that Michael and the rest of the office get away with all their ridiculousness. Sure it's not remotely realistic, but that's why it's entertaining. No one would watch a show about a real office because a real office is a serious place and is BORING. So an episode that tries to introduce an aspect of realism into the DM working environment just landed with a thud for me. Maybe if this was the series finale and we were seeing the end of an era it would have worked, but otherwise? Just no.

Also, why is BJ Novak still in the opening credits? I know he's off filming a movie, but I was under the impression he wasn't coming back. And even if he does, shouldn't he just be a guest star?

Anonymous said...

The most successfully uncomfortable 22 minutes of television ever in my eyes. Very well done on all fronts. A few points:

1. This could lead to a show of solidarity from the staff which makes Charles question his decision to go to D-M and force David to give Michael what he wants.

2. I see your point on Jim's position, but this was Jan. It may have been made up. Or maybe it was real and Ryan and/or David undid it without really telling anyone.

3. The women stood out in the episode, even Phyllis with her one telling contribution.

4. The funniest part to me was, "Michael, I don't need to know everyone's sexual history." "Well, that's good because it brings us to Kevin, who has no sexual history."

Leigh said...

For me this was the most awkward episode since Phyllis's wedding, and I found it really hard to watch--my husband was begging me to change the channel through most of it. Jim in the tux was funny at first but then it just got uncomfortable.

Kelly and Angela were hilarious all the way through, but that didn't make up for the squirminess.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the episode didn't have a lot of laughs but I still liked the episode overall, but the scene where Michael is introducing Oscar, Angela, and Kevin based on their sexual history was a cringe inducing yet hilarious moment that had me laughing loudly.

I wonder(not a spoiler) if they'll somehow bring Ryan back and put him in Michael's position as I can't see Charles putting Jim or Dwight in charge of the office. Of course, Ryan did commit crimes and left DM in disgrace, but they have let Michael and Dwight stay at the Office for dumber things.

Anonymous said...

Damn you, Alan, I'm going to have that theme song in my head for the rest of the day.

I agree that this episode didn't make me laugh as much as I was expecting. I thought for sure - given Michael's past interactions with Stanley and Daryl - that Michael's racial insecurities/insensitivities would come out and they didn't. In some ways I guess it's good the writers didn't go to that well again, but it seemed out of character.

Also odd: that judgmental Angela who made Hello Kitty remarks to a couple of Asian women, would be so taken with the new VP. Maybe it's his apparent love of playing by the rules that appeals.

Did anyone notice Elba's accent slipping from time to time, or was that my imagination?

Robin said...

Although I cringed through most of this episode, I thought it was one of the strongest this season.

I suspect that D-M will ask Michael to come back. But it will be interesting while he's gone.

I also liked how the episode showed how much Jim has become the person that he's always made fun of. There were so many instances where he seemed to be channeling either Michael or Dwight when he was trying to dig himself out of the hole he dug with Charles.

bsangs said...

All this episode accomplished was to make me miss "The Wire" in its heyday. A sad, sad day when Stringer Bell got got. Sad day. RIP Stringer, Omar, "The Wire."

And haven't we already had the quitting thing with Dwight before? If Michael ends up at Staples...

Adam said...

It was a good-uncomfortable, because I like the new dynamic of everyone being called out on their nonsense. We've rarely seen episodes in which Jim's lackadaisical nature bites him in the ass, but it's memorable when it's acknowledged.

Also, BJ Novak left to shoot the Tarantino film; he is coming back, IIRC.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this episode, but like last week's, it was very painful to watch. Knowing that Jim was just going to dig himself an even bigger hold every time he talked to Charles made me almost turn away. And I can't help but think that Jim could have come up with a believable lie for why he was wearing the tux.

Phyllis is really bitter about being off the PPC.

I laughed out loud at Kelly's reaction to learning that Charles had left. Both her knocking the cameraman down and chasing Angela through the parking lot were highlights for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree (and noticed at the time) that Jim's position was not made up. That said, I am glad that the tension with Charles provides Jim with some conflict to deal with that doesn't involve his relationship to Pam. I liked seeing Jim have to struggle for a change (he was forced out of his bubble, a la Jon Hamm from 30 Rock).

Anonymous said...

Best exchange: "Who is this?" "I was never given a name."

Anonymous said...

The last few episodes have made me question if the American version should have cut it short like Gervais' original.

But this episode.

This episode was everything the orginal version (i.e. David Brent's redundancy) was and more. Maybe it's my soft spot for Stringer Bell, too, but it was great stuff all around.

Jim's discomfort at everything from the time Charles showed up to his "BYE!" at the end was cringeworthy and awesome.

fred said...

Well I sure see how this could be seen that way, but I am not sure Wallace just didn't get Michael was talking about respect, or that he was just trying to give the kid his toy back.

You say Michael made a mature argument, but did he mention how his branch is the best performing ones? Nope.
How about how last week and thanks ot his golden tickets idea, they scored a exclusivity deal with one of their major clients? Nope.
But yes, he did mention that his party had been taken away from him, and he was angry about that.

Michael knew it was about respect, but he wasn't able to formulate it as any other employee would have, I felt.

That's also why I thought Wallace's answer was actually appropriate for Michael: he did not only gave him his party back, but said he would come down there.
Not just to please him, but to show that he was there, by Michael's side, because Minor was wrong and treated him in a way he shouldn't have. I thought that was Wallace's way to deal with Michael, and show that they were supporting him...

My review of the episode here.

Anonymous said...

Jim already said that he gets more money because he isthe official #2, so it's not a made up position.

As good as parts of this show were, how can they take such a great actor as IE and make him so buttoned down?

Hope he gets to shine, and soon.

Stringer's my boy, y'all!!!

Anonymous said...

I was just disappointed that when Michael's call to David Wallace was transferred to Charles, Michael didn't say "Where's Wallace at? Where the @#$# is Wallace?"

Jim said...

Damn! We joke all the time about how cool it would be to reference lines from previous shows, but in reality it would never work. Here we had a chance. Since there is a character named David Wallace, why, oh why, couldn't we have a moment where Michael thinks his new boss is a joke and says, "Where's Wallace at?"

Unknown said...

I have to disagree with many of you - I absolutely loved this episode. It was sometimes uncomfortable to watch but I thought it was absolutely spot on in the behavior of a "legitimate" manager for Michael. I also found David's behavior to be typical of the business world. (as for Jim's position, I don't believe corporate views it at all as legitimate. It was given by psycho-Jan and doesn't exist anywhere else in the company. Plus as on the ball as Charles is supposed to be he probably knew anyway. This was just his way of telling this goofball in a tuxedo that spends company time goofing of on the PPC that there is no such position and to get back to work)

Besides all that though - I'm surprised by many of the comments - I laughed my ass off. I thought it was hilarious

K J Gillenwater said...

JZ, I totally agree with this:

"This episode was everything the orginal version (i.e. David Brent's redundancy) was and more."

The uncomfortable nature of the BBC version was what I liked so much about it. When these awful things happened, you couldn't help but feel for these people...even David Brent at his jerky best. I prefer the uncomfortable episodes over the zany Michael episodes, because they feel more real to me.

I'm wondering if they won't move the new DM into the role of manager at the Scranton branch until they can find a replacement. It's clear that the DM really doesn't like Jim, unlike Michael who thinks he and Jim are best friends. So it could really shake things up.

Plus, the idea of the DM being in some crazy love triangle with Angela and Kelly would be hilarious.

Guess Alan would know if this was just a one-off guest episode or not...?

Maybe BJ Novak will be at Michael's new job...LOL!

Anonymous said...

While this one was very uncomfortable, I didn't find it nearly as hard to watch as past squirmers like Phyllis's wedding or kidnapping the pizza boy. I guess because, at the end of the day, this was just a very awkward day at work, and less devastating than ruining someone's wedding or accidentally committing a felony against a minor. But maybe it's me...there's a part of me that sort of enjoys a really tense meeting at work, even while another part of me can't wait to get out of it.

At the risk of overanalyzing, this show has displayed a wonderful ability to take a joke and build it, and change it, so that it stays funny, but for different reasons over the course of its story. The tux thing is a perfect example. Every time I looked at Jim during this episode, I laughed, but it was for a slightly different reason every time. Really tight.

Anonymous said...

This definitely felt like an original recipe Office with all the squirm-inducing moments. I'm bummed we won't get to see more interactions between Michael and Charles, but at the same time, I'm excited to see how the office functions under a normal boss. I have a feeling even Oscar will be begging for Michael to come back soon.

I missed Toby and Creed in this mix. I'd love to see how Toby reacts to Charles, and especially how Charles reacts to Creed and his solitaire.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, I once had a job where I was promoted to assistant manager by one boss, then when the new boss came in, he sat me down and talked about how our store needed an assistant manager. When I said that I was an assistant manager, he was all "yeah, about that..." explaining that I couldn't be because I wasn't full-time. So I can see how Jim's legitimate promotion could easily be undone by a higher up who doesn't see it necessary, as long as they continue to pay him the same.

Castaway said...

I have to admit, I don't understand why, after 90+ episodes of the American version of The Office, people are STILL comparing it to the British version. The British version had 12 episodes and two Christmas specials. The American version has had seven times as many episodes. The David Brent and Michael Scott characters have even been written and played quite differently, or at least Michael has grown to be quite different in some ways from David. Even if you want them the shows to be the same, the other 15 or so regular or semi-regular characters on each show are by now much different in each version, with the American version's characters having become much more detailed and expanded upon. Since, you know, the American show has had 100 episodes and not 12. Despite this, every week people want The Office to "go back to its roots" or praise it for being "like the original version". How can people even make that comparison anymore? Is it just snobbery than the original must be better so the remake can never establish a separate identity, or are people just desperate to make a comparison that's irrelevant?

Unknown said...

If you don't like uncomfortable humor why are you still watching the show? The beauty of the show is its uncomfortablility factor. At least it is for me. I'm not big on the soap opera aspects of Pam and Jim and whatever other coupling they have. It's a comedy so therefore I like to laugh when I watch the show. And the way this show gets me to do that is its appeal.

Bobman said...

I wasn't a huge fan of the episode - I never am of Michael-centric episodes - but one of my favorite parts of this show, for some reason, is vague acknowledgement of the camera crew, and there were a couple subtle moments (aside from the not-subtle Kelly knocking over the cameraman) that scratched my itch on that front. Most notably when David Wallace stepped out of the bathroom to see Michael standing there, and then noticed the camera in a sort of double-take before acknowledging Michael.

Adam said...

What made this good-uncomfortable (as compared to Phyllis' wedding, say) was that Michael was acting like a realistic human being this time.

Jim said...

Castaway... I don't think it's snobbish that some people (myself included) prefer the British version, that's just a matter of taste.

But it is fair to compare the two when similar elements (in this case Brent's redundancy vs. Michael quitting) are presented.

Yes, the American version has done plenty of things the original never did (even back in season one's basketball game - something I called at the time "utterly American" and helped make this show stand on its own two legs in my opinion), and they can't be compared every week. But this week the discussion has merit.

Anonymous said...

First off, this is awesome:

I thought this episode was great because of what it did to Jim. Because Michael and Dwight are so cartoonish at times, we forget that Jim isn't exactly a model employee either. Yes, a real company would have fired Michael and Dwight long ago. But are we so sure that Jim would survive in a real company, where pranks wouldn't be tolerated. And he would likely be fired for not doing anything to keep Michael and Dwight in line (not acting as a supervisor to Dwight or keeping corporate in the loop about Michael's actions). Because he is not trapped in arrested development like Michael and Dwight and seems normal, we forget that he is just as much a part of the dysfunction as they are. He would probably be able to function at corporate, but he would hate every second of it.

To make a comparison that Alan would appreciate, Jim definitely has his moments where he reminds me of Art Stillwell from the first season of NYPD Blue. He isn't a practical joker to be malicious, but to amuse himself and pass the time at a job that would otherwise be intolerable. Granted, Jim doesn't have a gambling problem that he needs to keep his mind off of and doesn't need to see a shrink, but I still think it comes from the urge to combat boredom (Jim probably wants to keep his mind off the fact that he is trapped at a thankless job and despite being engaged to the woman of his dreams, this isn't where he wants to be in life). But Jim didn't have a Kelly or Sipowicz to take him aside and tell him to knock it off, so Stringer Bell had to come in and play Fancy.

Anonymous said...
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ctrosecrans said...

i looked at this as a jim episode -- where he had to look at himself and what he's done while he's been there. and remember when he used to cringe about this being his career, and now he's worried about it.

also, you can see everything he's ever done passing before his eyes and maybe how silly and immature it was.

that said, his last immature act was great. the whole classy thing was hilarious. i laughed through the credits after that one.

Anonymous said...

Argh. The spoiler alert text didn't keep me from seeing what was under it even as I tried to ignore it. Stupid vertical peripheral vision. . .

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Minor's point about Jim's No. 2 position is valid. If it entails no actual job duties then it is just made up. The fact that Jan made it up, as opposed to Michael, doesn't change the fact that it is made up. Jim doesn't do anything as No. 2.

Bobcat said...

The reason I loved this episode so much is precisely that I hate Michael. Seeing him put in his place was such excellent Schadenfreude.

Strangely, though, even though I really like Jim, I also enjoyed Jim's constant fumbling. It's a part of his character they've only briefly explored before, and so not only is it funny for that reason (its unusualness) but also because it helps to explain why someone who seems as talented as Jim is still in a subordinate role at Dunder-Miflin.

Now if we could just figure out why Oscar is still in his position...

Anonymous said...

one of my favorite office episodes...terrific

Alan Sepinwall said...

NO SPOILERS. PERIOD. I don't care if you put a spoiler warning in. Thanks a lot for telling me and other people things we may have not wanted to know.

Bryan Murray said...

I thought Charles was going to yell at Pam for taking notes on a criminal effing conspiracy.

Where's Wallace?!

Anonymous said...

I don't think this show is very good anymore. It's not funny and I feel like the teasers are forced and struggling to be funny.

Also, Michael quitting didn't sit well. They had the same thing happen sort of with Dwight and he eventually came back and so to will Michael... The show is just spinning it's wheels now. Sigh... I've been comtemplating giving up... the time may be soon.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I do apologize for that.

LoopyChew said...

That's also why I thought Wallace's answer was actually appropriate for Michael: he did not only gave him his party back, but said he would come down there.
Not just to please him, but to show that he was there, by Michael's side, because Minor was wrong and treated him in a way he shouldn't have. I thought that was Wallace's way to deal with Michael, and show that they were supporting him...

I'd agree with this, but for the fact that Michael had already asked David whether or not he was coming earlier, and as such this gesture could be viewed as the pacifier it appears to be.

CAPTCHA: "rusto." Like anyone else's brain on a Friday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Michael's quitting isn't the same as Dwight's. Dwight didn't want to leave, but he did to protect Angela's honour. Michael is doing it out of wounded pride, and thus seemingly wants to.

I'm not saying that the outcome won't end up being the same (Michael coming back), but the differing motivations make a big difference.

Anonymous said...

the office seems more like a drama with some jokes in it, than a comedy with dramatic moments. i used to think it was funnier than 30 rock, but it's not even close anymore.

Kenrick said...

I agree with anon - "I was never given a name." - funniest line of the episode. I had to think about that for a second.

I also liked... the "Do you even know what happens when you put paper into a furnace?" bit.

Yes this was one of the most uncomfortable episodes to watch. I would say the first half was actually kinda boring, but the second half was great.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with rhys. Assistant (to the) Regional Manager is just as made up today as it was when Dwight held the position. Its nice to see the writer's taking shots at Jim and how absurd these situations are that he creates. He is probably the most capable, smartest person in that branch but all his efforts have been spent on woeing Pam and making Dwight look like a fool (which isn't that hard of a task). I think there was a moment in season 3, when Toby read back all of Jim's pranks on Dwight and he had a moment of clarity about his station in the company and in life. I think with Charles Minor there, he could get back to that point and either strive for a better career or just strive to do better at D-M.

With Stringer Bell in the flesh there, I would be kill myself for not making a connection to The Wire: Dwight might be the Daniels of D-M Scranton. When Dwight wanted to have Micheals job and climb the ladder, he never got closer than a made up title. Now that it has been pushed to the side and Jim isn't the star pupil in the eyes of the new boss (the Burrell to Charles' Carcetti), Dwight might finally get to be police commissioner...I mean head of the Scranton Branch. I hope this happens only so Idris Elba will call him "D".

Anonymous said...

For reasons I can't explain, Dwight giving a history of Scranton to Charles was my favorite part of the episode. Only this show can make the term "athracite coal mining" funny.

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode just for bringing a sense of normalcy to the out of control absurdity that had been going on for the past several years. Even if you liked Michael's cartoonish behavior, at some point there needs to be a response to it that grounds the show in reality. Now, we finally have it. Also, as the show pointed out and as Alan pointed out, we see that upper management can explain why the Scranton branch has gotten away with things. With Jan and Ryan (and now we see that David Wallace is a pretty poor manager with little backbone himself) Michael's continued employment makes more sense. I guess it took me awhile to see Wallace's shortcomings, because guys like Jim and Michael respected him and his (brief) moments on screen suggested he was competent.

As to Jim's day. Probably the best of the "Jim sticking his foot in his mouth" that we've had. Although, I disagree with those who think Jim really isn't cut out to do well. For the season when Jim left the Scranton branch I thought he did pretty well at the new site (some pranks at Andy's expense and the whole Utz day with Karen, notwithstanding). I kind of wish the show would show the good and bad of Jim's work habits, and not just show him screwing up when he has a chance for advancement.

And as to comparing this show to the British version, I think its natural. We compare Sci-Fi to Star Wars, action movies to Die Hard, new family sitcoms to old, established sitcoms. I think it's natural to take this show and point out its shortcomings or achievements by comparing it to a contemporary, and given that this show IS based on the British version, with Gervais attached to it, and with many storylines exactly paralleled, it makes sense to me. You'll also not people compare the quality of the show to 30 Rock or other shows. It's how people do things.

Omagus said...

Carmichael Harold: I was just disappointed that when Michael's call to David Wallace was transferred to Charles, Michael didn't say "Where's Wallace at? Where the @#$# is Wallace?"

Oh, my goodness...I literally would have laughed for five minutes straight.

I like the idea of Jim being out of his element. He's no longer the smartest guy in the room.

I definitely think that there is some room for good moments with Angela and Kelly both vying for Charles' attention ("I can definitely see our kids facing obstacles being half Indian and half black.")

And my thoughts on the running debate: no, this show isn't as over the top funny as it has been in the past but the uncomfortable moments often make me laugh just as much.

Please please please please please bring in Amy Ryan to share at least one scene with Idris Elba.

Anonymous said...

About Jim's position, its a matter of perspective. Jim is sort of the backup boss but he rarely needs to do anything in that capacity. Most of the time, he's just a salesman like any other. To someone like Michael or Dwight, the ideal of being second in command is a big deal. But to someone like Charles Minor, its just a glorified salesman with a made up title. Whats going to be interesting about this is seeing what sort of role Jim plays with Michael quitting (for however long that lasts). If he doesn't step up and take over the branch, then Charles' opinion of the position will be proven right. And I can't really see Jim taking over. I have a feeling all of this will lead to Jim leaving Dunder Mifflin. Several things that have happened this season have set up that possibility. He's got Pam and the mortgage now and he can't afford to continue risking his livelihood on Michael's shenanigans such as when he lost a huge commission last week on the BlueCross account due to the golden tickets. That situation may have been resolved (it wasn't clear to me how the resolution of the crisis affected Jim's commission), but I think it was a real eye opener for Jim regardless.

Anonymous said...

Curse you Sepinwall, I just spent the last two hours watching Wire youtube clips.

Anonymous said...

.About Jim's position, its a matter of perspective. Jim is sort of the backup boss but he rarely needs to do anything in that capacity.

That's what I think was the key point to the scene. While it's an actual position (one given by a former employee who had a really bad flameout), it doesn't really entail any responsibilities. Sure, he takes over when Michael's gone, but on a typical day he's does no supervising and is just another salesman.

I liked this episodes quite a bit. It reminded me of "Homer's Enemy" in the way it brought in someone from the real world and showed how he'd react to this sort of business environment.

Peter Lynn said...

So, now that Michael has quit, the Scranton branch needs a new regional manager. While I can see Charles Minor stepping in on a temporary basis, I think we can agree that he'll be looking to hire a replacement for Michael.

After this episode, Jim is anything but a leading candidate. So, that would seem to leave the door open for Dwight, who's not only the top salesman in the office but also Michael's former right-hand man. Then again, the latter should actually work against him. Plus, Dwight is also on his last strike, thanks to the fire-drill incident. So I doubt they see him as management material either.

But why does the new manager have to come from a sales background? Charles himself mentioned that he came out of accounting, and this was probably no accident.

My prediction: While I actually think Oscar would be the most sensible choice, I can easily imagine that as Angela cozies up to her black George Clooney, she won't charm her way into his pants but might unexpectedly work her way into the manager's office as he comes to see that she shares his authoritarian management style. And of course, having Angela in charge would be a very bad thing for the staff, but a very good thing for comedy.

Unknown said...

Both versions of the Office are best when they are awkward and uncomfortable. It's what made the original a great show. Granted, the US version has had many good episodes that haven't been uncomfortable, but the UK style is much more satisfying to me. There's more truth in an episode like this.

Who hasn't bristled when a new boss come and changes up your comfortable job?

Anonymous said...

Charles is from the steel industry, not paper. Which led to my favorite Micheal eight year old rant "Do you even know how paper is made? What if you put paper in a furnace, do you know what would happen? It'd be ruined."
and then he runs home to Daddy....


Anonymous said...

Like others, I am disappointed that they didn't take the chance to do a "Where's Wallace?" callback, especially since there were many opportunities.

Also I didn't have a problem with Charles referring to Jim's position as made-up. Wasn't Charles quoting Jim's own saying back at him? A minute before, Jim says, that it was "at first just a made-up position for Dwight", so it's pretty understandable that Charles would throw that phrase back at Jim as Jim is trying to use a position he called made-up to gain some standing.

I loved this episode, mostly because I think the Office is much, much better when it stays in the borders of reality (check the best episodes of the past two seasons, like "Weight Loss", "The Deposition", and now this) and I've been disappointed as the show has gotten increasingly broader with its comedy the past two seasons. Furthermore, as some have pointed out, this was a rare chance for us to see that Jim's behavior is pretty ridiculous even though we've gotten used to it. It's really the first time since "Conflict Resolution" where he got depressed thinking about how much time he wasted playing pranks on Dwight, but they dropped that pretty quickly as soon as the two next met.

Jim's career looked like it was moving on up in season 3, but he gave it up for Pam. In season 4 it looked like he was going to start trying harder and start moving on up (again) so that he could act on his plans for him and Pam, but that's been put on the backburner for a while as well, and he's reverted to his old ways. It's fresh to see Jim as the guy being laughed at for a change, and it's also surprising to see Michael quit.

I'd be shocked if Michael didn't come back, but personally I'd prefer that he doesn't, or at least not in the same capacity. I voiced to a friend several months ago that the Office as is had run all its jokes out and stopped watching a few episodes into season 5 until now (had to watch Idris Elba, so tuned in here), meanwhile it would make perfect sense for Wallace or somebody else to either demote Michael because he's crazy and Wallace knows it and put Jim in charge as he was #2 and Wallace likes him, or promote Michael to Ryan and Jan's job because of his good branch and because he's one of the most experienced branch managers (if not very good) and again, give Jim his spot. Either of these would've given a new dynamic to the show, and lots of new material. While Jim is unlikely to rise unless he pulls an impressive 180 from the tuxedo disaster (and all the subsequent problems trying to make up for it), I'm hoping the show will take the chance to change something instead of just returning the status quo.

Also, this is the second time that a Wire alum has rejuvenated The Office. Shouldn't they just be in every show, ever? Where's Larry Gilliard Jr., I haven't seen him in anything since the Wire. Could they get Dominic West in The Office as a boozy Scranton cop?

Anonymous said...

I really, really enjoyed this episode. Not only was it a nice call back to the UK Office (with Charles taking the role of Neil), but having such a straight man on the show really puts the actions of the other characters into context. It's easy to watch this show and forget that it's supposed to have an element of realism to it, but episodes like this drive that home. Plus, seeing Stringer Bell on any show brings a smile to my face.

One thing I haven't seen discussed was how significant a part of this episode the camera crew was. While usually ignored, it played an active role in several scenes in addition to the hilarious Kelly bowl over Alan mentioned. Notice David Wallace's immediate reaction and change in demeanor when he sees the crew with Michael. Does he placate Michael and talk to him that way because the camera is on him? I noticed that "on camera" David is always very nice and nurturing, but "off camera" David blatantly ignored Michael's calls. Perhaps there is some deliberate acting on his part when he knows he's the light is on him?

I also think Jim's excessively bad first impression sets the stage for Dwight to run the branch, a la Gareth. This episode opened up the show to go in a lot of interesting directions. I hope the writers take advantage.

Omagus said...

Anonymous: Also, this is the second time that a Wire alum has rejuvenated The Office. Shouldn't they just be in every show, ever? Where's Larry Gilliard Jr., I haven't seen him in anything since the Wire. Could they get Dominic West in The Office as a boozy Scranton cop?

If they found a way to bring Clarke Peters or Jamie Hector onto the show, I could die happy.

Anonymous said...


Bringing Felicia Pearson (Snoop) in to work with Darryl and co. would also be pretty awesome. I so badly want to see Andy try and romance Snoop that I can barely stand it.

Oaktown Girl said...

Also odd: that judgmental Angela who made Hello Kitty remarks to a couple of Asian women, would be so taken with the new VP. Maybe it's his apparent love of playing by the rules that appeals.

filmcricket - not odd at all, in fact quite realistic. People's racial prejudices are rarely consistent or as simple as black and white, so to speak. Also, what was underlying Angela's racist remark about the Asian women is that she views them as her "competition" for the men. It's totally in character for Angela to have the hots for a strong, handsome, disciplined man in charge...of any ethnicity. So I agree with you about the "rules" being a major part of the appeal. And yeah, being gorgeous don't hurt either.

Anonymous said...

Andrew's point about how Charles relates to Michael and the rest of the Scranton nuthouse, er, office mirrors "Homer's Enemy" was a brilliant insight: both situations involve a relatively normal person being thrust into an utterly bizarre situation. The problem for Michael and Jim is that Charles Minor isn't a repressed, bitter jerk like Frank Grimes was (though his lack of humor might be a red flag in that regard), but they didn't come across much better than Homer Simpson did when dealing with Grimes.
When I was watching the preview clip that JF brought to the Tonight Show, my first thought was "There's one word to describe Michael Scott and that's PETULANT". Yet after seeing this episode, and in spite of a lot of very petulant behavior, the new descriptive that best fits Michael is "wounded". I think he understood on some level that David Wallace was basically saying to him, "Yes, Charles will deal with you because I'd rather not have that headache, and yes, your 15 years of loyal service matters less than a resume that includes a steel company, but hey--let's have a party and forget about those mean old real world issues, who's a good Michael, aren't YOU a good Michael?". And I didn't blame Michael one bit when he quit after that because he caught the contempt and it's not something one can really overcome.
The best part of the entire storyline is what it'll mean for Jim. He's never had anyone with any real power dislike him, from Michael through Jan and esp. Wallace. But it's not clear to me that he'd even be adequate as a manager with his current mindset and attitude, so even though almost every cold reaction from Charles to Jim was understandable, I hope that Jim really makes a transition to combining his gifts of likability and underlying competence with some grace and leadership. I want to see him running the office as more than a pinch-hitter because Charles was wrong and his #2 position isn't a's just time for Jim to show why it means something.
And I officially love that Angela isn't the least bit bowed in the aftermath of her double-dealing. If Jim isn't going to take charge, I agree with whomever wrote that she should. Talk about comedy based on abject horror!
Very few comedies can hit it out of the park when they aren't even trying for laughs. This episode showed that The Office is miles ahead of anything else on TV.

Anonymous said...

I can't count the number of times I've accidentally called Elba's character "Slim Charles."

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm surprised this episode was so divisive. I thought it was fantastic.

Agree with those who think squirm-worthy is a good thing when it's based in reality, i.e., a proud manager quitting because he felt disrespected, versus squirm-worthy being a bad thing, i.e., same manager drives rental car into the water.

J.J. said...

In a weird way, it's funny to me how dramatic the ending was.

Because based on Michael's behavior (being very childish and overly dramatic), it's frankly surprising that he doesn't pitch fits that result in him "quitting" more often.

Bob Timmermann said...

Michael must not take quitting lightly since he was quite willing to throw Dwight overboard last week to keep his job.

Matthew said...

No-one's mentioned what to me was one of the funniest jokes in the episode - Michael commending Oscar for not bringing his breakup with Gil into the worplace. It was a nice subtle recognition that his appearance in the single's party two weeks ago did come as a bit of a surprise because we really only see Oscar at work.

Tim Windsor said...

Given the number of people who've mentioned the UK Office here, I'm surprised nobody called out Michael's riffing on the word "mental," a real David Brentism. He even went with the glottal-stopped Cockneyesque pronunciation once.

Great episode on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

whoever hasnt seen the wire and comes here and posts and reads is ridiculous

LoopyChew said...

Because based on Michael's behavior (being very childish and overly dramatic), it's frankly surprising that he doesn't pitch fits that result in him "quitting" more often.

I don't think so, actually. He made it as explicit as possible in the last episode that, in fact, without his job, he has nothing. Couple that with the fact that he considers the DM Scranton people the closest thing he has to family, and I think it's pretty clear why, as petulant as he can get, he'd never have thought twice about quitting until now.

J.J. said...

I don't know, Loopy.

I think Michael does think about quitting. There was the episode when he tried to jump on a train and run away. And he's got all those plans for things he'd rather do than work at Dunder Mifflin (at various points, he seems interested in--and in some cases actively pursues--acting, screenwriting, directing, making comedy albums).

Anonymous said...

Omagus and others said Where's Larry Gilliard Jr., I haven't seen him in anything since the Wire?

He's in a fairly significant role on "The Beast" and is one of the reasons I've held on to that show.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the deleted scenes and if they're part of continuity like Greg Daniels says, then we should expect to seriously hate Pam as this season winds down. She couldn't have been less supportive of Jim as he was going through the worst work day he's ever had. Even if it was the result of a stupid prank gone wrong, he was getting slammed and she seemed downright amused by his torment. My only hope is that the BS about Jim's position being "made up" was just step 1 of Charles treating him like garbage and that leads Pam to revert to being more like her pre-S5 self. You know, someone more appealing than Angela.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Jim included in that party at David Wallace's home in CT because he was the #2 at his branch? Seems like that would make his position officially recognized by corporate.

The Local said...

Oh MAN...seriously bsangs? I have not gotten to watch The Wire yet. THANKS FOR THE SPOILER.

I don't think Jim's #2 position
was made up. Jan was crazy,but
with the merging of the two
branches,I think they needed
someone who knew Stamford. That
was Jim. Maybe it's pointless now
with Andy Bernard being the only
one left,but still...!

I thought the episode was
uncomfortable in a good way.
We're all so used to Jim being
the casually cool good guy who is
liked and accepted instantly. It
was good/horrid to see him

I don't think Angela was ever a
racist. She had problems with
Oscar's being gay at first,but
apologized. The think with the
Benihana Waitresses was an bit
of ugliness that came out b/c
no one was going to her Sugarplum
Fairy-Nutcracker-No Booze party
and she was mad.

But yeah...Angela likes Charles because he's got power and is a
rule follower...

I am just going to trust that the
writers have a plan for this story
arc and will resolve it in a great
and hilarious way.

Jackie said...

I absolutely LOVED this episode!! When you've hoped for two of your favorite worlds to collide for so long and then it happens--it inevitably disappoints. But not when you're dealing with the caliber of talent associated with The two best "The" shows ever! So, yes, this would be the exception!

"Where the %@$# is Wallace?" made me burst out!! So funny!! You know the writers were itching to add that!!

Anyhow, I appreciated how Jim was having a bad day because sometimes his "we're in this together" glances at the camera can start to feel a bit presumptuous. And I actually LOVE Jim!! Love him!

I want to give huge credits to Jenna Fischer for the way she delivers Pam's relationship with Jim--it doesn't feel insufferable like some "perfect relationships" can get--> begin to wear thin.

I wish the deleted scene with Jim and Charles at Pam's desk was in the first cut. But I guess it just gets insider status in the web-only version.

I heard Idris Elba in a Fresh Air interview say that the writers were originally going to allow him to use his British accent on the show, but changed their minds at the last minute. I wished he had been able to use it--it felt kind of restrained this way.