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Friday, March 27, 2009

Commercial Interruption: Close your eyes ... It's the Michael Scott Paper Company

Sometimes there's just too much television for one Channel Surfing blogger to handle. That's when we need a break to sit back, relax and indulge in some friendly back-and-forth (via email, of course — we don't actually like to speak to one another in person). Bloggers Thomas Rozwadowski and Sara Boyd are pleasantly surprised that the "I quit" Michael is still in full force, but can only wonder, where does it go from here? And why the devil would a film crew contracted to tape the hap-happenings at Dunder Mifflin go on to document a competing paper business ... oh wait, that question could likely open Pandora's box of reality ... back away slowly ...

Sara: To be honest, I really expected to tune in Thursday night to an episode featuring Michael at David Wallace's feet, pleading for his job back. Thankfully, this was not the case. The episode -- again, with the caveat that it wasn't great, but didn't make me want to gouge my eyes out -- had its funny moments, which unfortunately is saying something these days. The episode picks up right where last week left off -- with Michael beginning his journey to unemployment. I think Jim said it best when he noted that during Michael's two week notice, you really can tell the difference between Michael trying and Michael not trying. Between bouts of juvenile pranks and glasses of scotch, it was quite amusing to see the realization that Michael would be unemployed in a dying economy hit him on his last day.

However, instead of filming Michael waiting in line at soup kitchens, it looks like we'll be following Mr. Scott as he attempts to start his own paper company: Michael Scott Paper Company. Catchy. After exhausting just about all options to get a few Dunder Mifflin-ites (only the good ones, of course) to follow him in a Jerry Maguire-esque manner, wouldn't you know only loyal and completely out-of-character Pammy Pam actually marches out? I have no idea who Pam is these days and this only continues that confusion.

So Thomas, do you think this is the fresh breath of plot the show needs to get back to Funnyville -- or another Stanford/Scranton type disaster?

Thomas: Much like Adam and I discussed last week -- and MJ alluded to when she wrote about Pam's potential "departure" -- at least this feels like a necessary way to address some (no, not all, as you mentioned in the intro with that stalker-ish camera crew) issues I've had with the show since Season 3. I like the general idea that all these years, largely grounded employees like Oscar and Jim have probably been longing for a "real" boss to come in and be the model of efficiency and maturity that Michael never could be. What they seem to have found with Charles Bad-Ass-I-Know-Chicks-Dig-Me Minor is that bosses who are only concerned with the bottom line can be ... hmmm, how should we put this ... huge douchebags?

Pam's decision to bolt for the Michael Scott Paper Company felt pretty rash, but at least they set it up with a two-pronged approach. She's long been striving for better things, and her quick mastery of the copier (and that no one cared) only confirmed her lowly lot in life. She also appeared genuinely bothered by the way No Comedy Charles booted traitor Michael out sans the ticker tape parade he probably envisioned on his last day. Still, would Pam really quit her job for Michael's nonexistent business plan knowing that a) she'll be competing against her fiance and b) oh yeah, she has a fiance and might want to consult with him on life altering decisions? I don't know how another split office scenario could pay off long term though, so while I generally like the Michael Scott versus the forces of reality plotline, I think this'll ultimately end up right back where it all started.

Except Ryan is returning and he looks like Kiefer Sutherland in "The Lost Boys." Boyd, what up with that?

Sara: Seriously. Whoever was walking around "The Office" dressing rooms toting a bottle of bleach should be slapped in public. I kind of cringe at the idea of Ryan returning to the show, not going to lie. The writers -- Mr. B.J. Novak included -- clearly are having a little identity crisis with more than a few of its characters. Ryan went from quiet temp to douchey coke addict bossman and now, apparently blonde deadbeat bowl-a-rama manager? I don't follow. But perhaps we'll find out if blondes really do have more fun -- or if they're just more pathetic.

This whole situation seems like a lose-lose, or lose-lose-lose, to me. If Michael fails with his new business and has to crawl his way back to Dunder Mifflin -- fail. If Michael, plus Pam, plus Ryan? successfully start up a new paper company -- fail, totally not realistic and would continue to beg the camera crew question. Plus, that would just be annoying. So, to sum up, Michael loses no matter what, the show could potentially lose big and the viewers, well let's face it, we're already losing.

So Roz, how long do you think Charles "Ladies Man" Minor sticks around before jumping ship?

Thomas: My guess is that Idris Elba is only going to be around as long as fellow "Wire" alum Amy Ryan was. So here's a safe bet that in Charles' effort to streamline and increase paper productivity, he'll flex too much muscle and make a logical blunder by being slightly overzealous.

It would appear that they're trying to paint a picture where treating employees like mindless automatons doesn't prove satisfactory for morale in the end (who knew?). That for all of Michael's inadequacies -- and let's face it, he could be pretty cruel at times, too -- at least he didn't actually know better. The man is a dolt, therefore he gets a free pass. Charles, on the other hand, is measured and methodical, so he shouldn't screw up. But he probably will because he doesn't know his employees as well as Michael -- here's a bet they'll start to miss the simplicity of a boss remembering a birthday -- or there'll be an outright office revolt because the Black George Clooney can't properly motivate once-productive employees Dwight and Jim. Therefore Michael will end up back in the big chair once DM goes into tank. You have to admit, at least Michael cares. And that counts for something in this crap-tastic economy.

If not, the split office scenario would appear to be a disastrous choice ala Season 3. It ain't gonna happen. In the end, Dunder Mifflin will appreciate what it never should have let go in the first place. And that, dear fairy tale reader, would appear to be the moral of this story.

But at least for the time being, I won't look too far ahead or be too hard (that's what he said?) on the show. I've found the last two weeks pretty refreshing despite a few holes in the overall fabric. I will say this, Toby's line about how Michael is "like a movie on a plane -- it's not great, but it's something to watch. Then when it's over, it's like, 'How much time is left on the flight.' What now?" was about as perfect as it gets, as was the silent scene of Pam and Michael walking into a wide open future together.

I'm gonna be happy about these things, Boyd. You can't stop me!

Sara: I can and will. Hank, please escort Mr. Rozwadowski out of the building. Also, you can never be too hard on "The Office." And yes, that's what she said. (Double points because I said "hard on" -- boo-ya!)

Catch "The Office" at 8 p.m. Thursdays on NBC.

-- Sara Boyd, sboyd2@greenbaypressgazette.com, Thomas Rozwadowski, trozwado@greenbaypressgazette.com

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4 Comments:

Of all the commentary I've read about this episode, I found this the most misguidedly critical and off-base. Your review--which wasn't great, but didn't want to make me gouge my eyes out--failed to mention that the episode was riveting, well-written and superbly acted. I thought Pam's decision was very much in character--she's no submissive sycophant, and has clearly demonstrated she has dreams and ambition, albeit unfulfilled. All over the web, people are excitedly discussing Michael Scott Paper Company. Like anything else, the people have spoken.

By Anonymous Marcie, At March 29, 2009 at 2:13 PM  

Baaa ... Baaa, keep on following, little sheep. Clearly, Marcie never saw Season Two of The Office.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At March 30, 2009 at 8:39 AM  

Oooh, sweet, we have some dissent among our commentors!

After finally watching last week's episode n Friday, I think a new direction might help, not hurt "The Office." It's easy to compare the present season with past ones -- yes, season two ruled -- but there's no way to repeat the magic of that season except to repeat it (and as we've been saying, we're sick of the same-old, same-old Jim plays a prank, Dwight does something crazy, Michael does something stupid storyline). Embrace the changes! Finally the show is getting back to the unpredictablity that we used to see. Yes, Pam is growing up beyond her receptionist years, but, hasn't her character always said she wants to be something more?

--Malavika

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At March 30, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

Perhaps it didn't come off as strongly, but I think Roz and I are in agreement here that, at the very least, we too are hopeful that these major changes to the show will be the CPR the series so desperately has needed. However, that doesn't mean we're jumping in with both feet -- we're just taking a more cautious approach. But yes, I agree with you Marcie -- it's an exciting turn of events. But when you compare it to the high success the show once was, it's still a little early to be starting up the band and hoisting "Michael Scott for President" signs.

I do stick to my guns, however, on Pammy Pam. Perhaps the act of quitting was true to form -- just like when she took the first plunge at walking across burning coals -- but the decision to follow Michael in a business where nothing is planned, except the name, is a little ridiculous. As was the fact that Jimbo seemed to be supportive off the bat. Then again, maybe they're finally setting us up for the broken engagement we've all been praying wouldn't occur.

-- Sara

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At March 30, 2009 at 8:51 AM  

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