Friday, March 12, 2010

The Office, "St. Patrick's Day": Get me Mega-Desk!

A review of "The Office" coming up just as soon as the baby experiences a strong male presence...

In many ways, "St. Patrick's Day" felt like a throwback episode. Not only did Dave Koechner make his first appearance in three seasons as Michael's odious buddy Todd Packer, but we had a fairly vintage Dwight/Jim prank war, a story about Michael struggling to bond with his new boss, and a very low-key vibe that felt very reminiscent of the early seasons.

"St. Patrick's Day" wasn't all that funny, with most of the comedy coming out of Dwight's quest for Mega-Desk(*), but I'll take an episode light on laughs if it feels like the show I know (which hasn't always been the case this season). I liked watching the progression of Michael's relationship with Jo, to the point where he was finally able to set aside his usual neediness and social idiocy so he could stand up for his staff - and that, in turn, finally won Jo's respect.

(*) Where a lot of Dwight's activity lately (like every scene of him at Jim and Pam's house last week) has been too over-the-top, the Mega-Desk story worked for a couple of reasons. First, it was entirely based around the office, and the best Dwight and Jim conflicts have revolved around small things like desk encroachment, Dwight's annoying exercise ball, etc. Second, now that Jim's no longer co-manager (or in any position of authority over Dwight, which he technically was ever since he came back from Stamford), the two are on equal footing and it removes some of the weird power dynamic we got from either end the last few years. Third, Jim knew exactly what Dwight was up to, yet was at times powerless to resist; again, these little fights don't work if they're one-sided. Fourth, Jim's creation of the mis-named Quad Desk, and Dwight having to crawl under it to answer his phone, was a nice reminder of another great desk-related prank, where Jim put Dwight's desk in the men's room back in season two.

So far, Dunder-Mifflin/Sabre doesn't feel that different from Dunder-Mifflin regular, but I'm very pleased with the idea of Daryl moving out of his warehouse office. Michael/Daryl is one of the show's more underrated dynamics, and I have to assume this means Craig Robinson's going to be around more for the rest of this season than he has been to date.

After the big leap forward last week, Andy and Erin are back to taking baby steps again, with her cold getting in the way of their first date. Andy's panic over this (and concern over her overly-physical interaction with her foster brother) felt a little overdone, but I'm amused every time we get a new piece of Erin's tragic backstory, here with the news about her being hospitalized from ages three to six. (She should totally bond with Lux from "Life Unexpected," shouldn't she?)

So, not a great episode, but one that felt "Office"-y enough.

What did everybody else think?


King Killer Dave said...

I totally agree, Alan.

This season has felt all-too-often as though everyone is just going through the motions in a lot of ways. It has also been disappointing to see Pam shift into a totally different, more wet-blanket-y type of person, and I'm sad to say it was actually quite a relief to not have her in the episode.

The "mega-desk" bits were really fun, and I agree that the feel of the episode was reminiscent of earlier seasons, when the show was just hitting its stride.

Erin's foster brother was not only overdone, but probably something that would have come up before. It felt forced, and was more frustrating that funny. Although, I did love Andy bringing back the "Cats in the Cradle" song with his trademark "duh-duh roo-doo-doo" vocal drumroll.

Definitely an uneven episode, but it seemed to recapture some of the spirit of the show I know and love (and miss, after much of this spotty season).

Having Daryl in the office should be fun (I always love when he takes the piss out of Michael; the "little TV" gag definitely elicited a giggle from me), and I thought it was smart for the writers to play up the immediate rift it will cause between him and his workers ("Did you tuck in your shirt?").

George said...

I liked it, but I thought MEGADESK! was extremely rehashed, let's face it, nothing beats the time when Jim seemingly wrapped Dwight's desk and belonging's in Christmas paper. Dwight has been awful this season, but Jim fearing Cecilia could be a female Dwight without his All-American manly presences kept me giggling.

Michael at his cringe worthy worst a la Phyllis' Wedding or Scott's Tots, found myself pausing the episode so I could look out from behind my hands every so often. He came through in the end which was surprising to me for some reason, and I actually like Kathy Bates in The Office, I wonder how many more times she'll appear.

Andy and Erin...meh? I really don't know, it seems the writers are ruing their decision to put Jim and Pam together 3 years ago (!) and have decided to use all the tedious roadblocks they decided to forgo with them on Andy and the uber-unfortunate Erin.

Pleased that Daryl will be around more often, I guess he'll be joining the Coalition of Reason.
I just noticed that Gabe was in In The Loop, with Liz Lemler, I thought he was really good in that film. They share a lot of the same qualities, except Gabe isn't such a persistent suck up, I hope he and the IT guy show up a lot, if only to refresh the cast a bit. The Scranton branch has very rarely hire/fires people.

Hal Incandenza said...

Despite Packer's unexpected return, this was my least favorite episode in ages, possibly going back to, I dunno, "Frame Toby." Laughs were few and far between, and I don't really think they ever figured out what to do with Kathy Bates. (And, I must confess to not understanding at all why everyone had to stay simply because Michael was staying--that rang false to me.)

And, really though, how are they going to handle Pam for the next dozen or so episodes?

Hal Incandenza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

Every once in a while, the Office does something so stupid and unrealistic that I can't suspend my disbelief enough to find it even entertaining. Last night was one of those times. There is NO WAY that anyone other than Michael, and maybe Dwight, would've stayed later than 5:00 just because Jo was there. Nor would she have expected them to. That whole storyline just bugged the living crap out of me.

Beyond that, the episode wasn't even funny, other than mega-desk. I know that I remarked in a comment on another episode that I want the Office to go back to putting the show in the office, but last night kind of made me regret that thought. Darryl's promotion might be a fun thing though.

Nevada Smith said...

The Small number of comments here should tell you how fans are feeling about this show. There are always a few laughs per episode but it surprises me less and less when they're rare. Have the characters grOwn stale? Who knows but maybe it's time to bow out gracefully. It's funny how the ascendancy of Parks & Recreation and Community is happening as The Office and 30 Rock start the inevitable lessening of their quality. Modern Family is the current sitcom cream of the crop. Think about it there are no reruns and no TiVo, You have to pick OfficE or Modern Family to watch - discuss.

SS said...

This episode was not funny and I'm a big fan. Some episodes they write Michael too cartoony, and Jim/Pam anything has ran it's course.

I find myself way more interested in Ryan/Creed/Erin/Andy/Oscar/Angela than any of the leads. I guess there's more unexplored territory.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The Small number of comments here should tell you how fans are feeling about this show.

Or it should tell me that I posted this an hour ago, as opposed to last night for Community or way earlier in the morning for Parks & Rec. Not saying those shows aren't better this year (they clearly are), but Office posts tend to get the most comments by the end of the day - not surprising, since it's the highest-rated of the four NBC comedies.

Unknown said...

a little better than is has been of late I think (not counting the very special baby episode last week)

As much as I like her though Kathy Bates just is not workig for me at all - I think maybe she's just too spot on or something. The scenes with Michael were so realistic and pathetic I just felt uncomfortable. (similiar to the feeling I had with the kid's scholarships but not as bad)

Am glad to see Daryl though

Anonymous said...

This happened a while ago but I think another big shark-jumping factor in the show has been Jim's acceptance of life as a paper salesman. I suppose this happened gradually, but when the show started, Jim was more of a goofball and was one of the vehicles through which we could laugh at dwight, michael and others. I remember in the episode "office olympics" when Jim asked Stanley if Stanley had any good games. Stanely responded "yeah, its called work hard so my kids can go to college." Or something like that. Anyway, Jim is not Stanley and its just not as fun.

Ang said...

I was hoping you were going to write "...just as soon as I put on my jammy-jams."

I thought that Jim, no longer co-manager, was going to go back to his former position of Michael's number 2 in the office. I guess that was never really stated, but that's what I had assumed.

Col Bat Guano said...

Good not great episode for me. Andy and Erin do absolutely nothing for me and having the cameras show up at her house for their date just didn't work. I thought Michael was well done here in his efforts to turn Jo into David Wallace, but realizing at the end it wasn't going to work.

Once again Pam is completely left out of an episode. You would have thought they might have realized from the Pratt story how much that takes out of the dynamic. If they can show up at Erin's house why not the Halpert's?

Anonymous said...


I'm not very experienced with the work scene but I've been at places where everyone checks out at around 5 and places where no one leaves before 6-6:30. It's an environment thing. If one person doesn't make the first move then no one goes to not attract the wrong type of attention from the boss.

So to me, it wasn't unrealistic although pushing 7 (for US crowd it's probably past dinner) would be a bit much.

Kathleen Taylor said...

I was absolutely blown away by Ed Helms' little moment when Erin kissed Andy's cheek. What a beautifully understated bit of acting there.

Jim said...

here is NO WAY that anyone other than Michael, and maybe Dwight, would've stayed later than 5:00 just because Jo was there.

They needed one line about what they all doing there, interfacing DM into the Sabre paradigm (I don't speak corporate) or something, but in this economy, everybody being afraid to piss off the new boss rings true.

A lot of small things I loved: Kevin's St Patrick's Day outfit, Meredith like a kid at Xmas for the great boozing holiday (and jumping Todd Packer), Erin's sweet/tragic storyline. Angela's facemask (embroidered). An old school episode and I liked it. Though I agree with the poster who asked how they are going to bring Pam back. Does no one remember the Newhart Principle?

Anonymous said...

The only reason I didn't buy them staying late was because they're a printer/paper sales company. Past 6PM, how many of their CLIENTS would still be in the office to accept calls? So that just leaves them with paperwork/busywork, but once the work is done there's no point (and no good reason) to stay. I've worked with sales people before, and even if they want to stay out in the field past five they usually don't because their clients won't be around to talk to them.

Although maybe being on the east coast their clients would be working late, too?

shushie said...

Michael’s interactions with Jo were cringe worthy at best and just not funny. I didn’t get why everyone had to stay late with him either, and if I had been one of those employees detained then I certainly wouldn’t have bought him a drink later at the bar.
The Andy/Erin relationship thing might prove to be entertaining – I at least like that we are learning more about her character and she is having more opportunities to appear awkward.
The decision to kick Daryl upstairs seemed like a hasty decision from Jo and the writers. I think it sets up a few more interesting possible storylines for Michael vs. Daryl, but in the end I’m certain he’ll just end up back in the warehouse (see Pam’s graphic design storyline). I get tired of this show's decision to constantly change things for a couple weeks then pretend to go back to status quo.
Mega-desk was the only thing that really got a laugh out of me, and it wasn't much.

Dr Horrible said...

I simply loved that episode, especially the "How I Met Your Mother" referrence! OMG, i love that show, but that line was so hillarious, and greatly delivered by Ed Helms. I bet "Andy" totally believes that the "first date story" is a great story for his kids, but still, it was a great slap in the HIMYM face, about how much they build up the mother story, and i believe, in the end will be kinda dissapointing.

Overall, great performances once again, i always love the Dwight-Jim interactions, and in this episode, we had a good one. And for once again, Kathy Bates was simply amazing!

This season may not be as "office" as it should or could be, but i still get a few good laughs from it!

Ryan Pimentel said...

The funniest part I thought was when Michael referenced Hoop Dreams while talking to Daryl. One of the best lines of the season.

Miken said...

Daryl and Michael interactions are very underrated.

From referencing Hoop Dreams to alluding to him getting the job because of reparations, they are all great lines. And I love that Daryl always plays it up calling the computer a little TV.

And I disagree with whoever said the employees wouldn't stay. It's a new boss and new owner and you want to make sure you prove your worth to your new employer. It's obvious she wanted them to stay, and all of these people want and need their jobs. I thought it made sense they were nervous to leave.

renton said...

Having worked in an office where a new boss takes over, I can TOTALLY see people not wanting to leave at the end of the day if the boss was still there.

Sometimes, the new boss is staying late to "assess who is really serious about the job."

In this economy, with jobs very tough to replace, I'm sure that happens in a lot of workplaces.

tribalism said...

I love how Angela had her name embroidered on her very own surgeon's mask. Favourite throwaway line of the night:

“A real Hoop Dreams story you got there.”

More of my thoughts on this episode are available on my blog where I go into detail about who is the most likely person to fill the Jan/Ryan/David Wallce role of executive antagonist now that Jo Bennett is on her way back to Florida. Click my username for the link.

Anonymous said...

After several seasons of the Office we kind of explained away Michael not getting fired by DM because his numbers were still good and it turns out management at DM was worse at their jobs than Michael was.

Still, I find it hard to believe that Jo would come in and assess the situation similarly. I mean, you've just bought this company and this branch with a guy who had been manager for years, then they bring in another guy as co-manager. You meet the branch and the two co-managers, how does Jo not get the impression that Jim is more qualified than Michael? Just from the interactions Michael has had with Jo (from flip-flopping on who should stay as manager to him fighting over Sabre's changes to his awkwardness in all situations) wouldn't Jo get the suspicion that something is up with this guy and there was a reason Jim got promoted in the first place (eventual phasing out of Michael)? I'm not saying that that's the CORRECT interpretation of events, I just think new ownership might follow down that line of thinking.

LA said...

I dunno, it was a "return to form" in tone, but not in humor. To me, the only bright spot was Daryl coming upstairs. He's been sorely underused of late, and I'm always happy when Craig Robinson is on my TV.

Jim said...

Daryl and Michael interactions are very underrated.

One of my favorite exchanges ever, from "Golden Ticket" IIRC


Start over.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that "Hot Tub Time Machine" is responsible for Daryl's move upstairs?

Tyroc said...

I totally believed people staying late. Jo had just promoted Daryl for one smart idea. Who knows how she would act if they left early? She's not a normal boss.

I liked the episode more than most of you it seems, but that tends to be the case week to week. I agree with Alan it felt like an early episode. Which was fun for me. (And I liked all the Andy/Erin stuff. Both so adorable.)

RoseyRose said...

Is it just me or is Erin the brightest spot of the show these days? I really like her. She's been an amazing addition to the cast.

Her cluelessness is the only original humor happening. Everything else seems like the same old thing. It's like the other characters are stagnant. We don't really learn anything new about them. Erin is the only one that has a history that's expanding. said...

I thought the kiss on the cheek was so sweet at the end of the ep, followed by the lame joke that Andy said afterwards that they both laughed at.

I also loved Andy wearing not only his sister's dress, but the fact that kilts are Scottish, not Irish.

I really hope Daryl teaches Michael more urban slang.

Henry said...

I actually liked this episode compared to the birth episode, which I plain despised. Nice little beats and moments (I particularly liked how overdone everyone was for St. Patty's Day). If the show could build on an episode like this, the season might not be a lost cause.

Anonymous said...
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Alf said...

I can't believe I heard "butt plug" on NBC primetime.

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode, but it could have been better.

I loved the Dwight-Jim interactions, glad to see those back again. I understand Pam won't be coming out as much for while because of their baby and that's fine with me.

The Andy and Erin? Loved it! It was cute, sweet, and funny. Not super funny, but Andy and Erin funny, cute funny. I've become a Erin and Andy fan and by seeing this episode, I hope nothing goes wrong. Andy has always had bad luck with love; and Erin seems like the type of girl to make him happy. Also I was glad to see more Erin, she's a great character, and rather cute too.

I just wish the episodes could be an hour long.

Anonymous said...

Question: What would Erin see in Andy?

Anonymous said...

One of the better episodes this year. I absolutely bought the whole staff staying late under the sway of an aggressive new boss/owner. Especially after the close call with unemployment when DM went under so recently.

I found the Erin At Home segment bizarre and disturbing. It left me with the impression that Erin, out of naivete or something else, has been having sex with her pseudo-stepbrother.

Reminded me of the old Seinfeld ep in which George suspected his new GF was having relations with her "platonic roomate" only to find... that his new GF was having relations with her "platonic roomate".

Andrew D said...

I am definitely over thinking this, but was the quad-desk really misnamed? Wouldn't the fourth desk be the phone, monitor and toddler's chair that Jim left between the two bottom desks?

Cole said...

I agree that parts of the show are becoming monotonous, but I think that's what I appreciate. It is a mundane office after all. The writers should focus more on the humor.

Anonymous said...

The only thing missing from this episode was The Fonz on water skis.

BigTed said...

The "inappropriate siblings" plot was done on "Friends," when Rachel went out with an otherwise great guy who was far too touchy-feely with his actual sister. Of course, that was one episode and out, since Rachel wisely didn't want to see the guy anymore. The idea that innocent Andy and Erin are going to be caught up in her creepy sort-of-family dynamics for a long time isn't an appealing thought.

Scott said...

Thanks to basketball coverage Thursday, I just saw the Office today. I agree with most of what you said Alan, but as I've said too many times, I don't like Erin. It seems every time I start to remotely warm up to her, the writers do something to make me cold on her. Like the weird foster brother stuff. There is no need for that. I don't understand what the point is for a 'will they, won't they' with bit characters on the show. Andy singing Cat's in the Cradle was a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Andy and Erin remind me of Jim and Pam, except that the characters have turned into extremely stupid people.
The foster brother stuff reminded me of something you would see in a Farrelly brothers movie or maybe a Jud Apatow movie. Some weird quirky thing that gets thrown into an otherwise normal situtation. It works in a movie, lets wait and see if it works in a TV show.

Susan said...

I love how "The Office" rewards long-time viewers. Mega Desk...I've heard that song before.

I am a big Kathy Bates fan, so I am always happy to see her anywhere. I agree with Miken and renton. I interpreted the whole staff staying because Michael was as "oh my gosh, if MICHAEL (total slacker) is working late, I guess I better stay." This would be to either impress Jo or not incur her wrath. If Jo had not been present, they would have gone home even if Michael was staying.

Learning more about Erin's childhood and seeing her at home was interesting. I enjoy seeing her character develop.

Todd Packer! Awesome.