Commercial Interruption: Close your eyes ... It's the Michael Scott Paper Company
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, Thomas Rozwadowski, email@example.com