Tag Archives: Ellie Kemper

The Office – “Secretary’s Day”

“Secretary’s Day”

April 22nd, 2010

If there were a single quality that defines The Office at its most enjoyable, it is “earnest.” When the show starts heading into the territory of cruel, it is able to survive so long as it remains earnest about it. The show can feature embarrassing and often cringe-worthy moments, and it can have characters do things which are ultimately south of decent, but so long as there is a sense of earnestness in their actions, or their intentions, or even their realizations regarding their behaviour, I’m generally okay with it. When the show goes for earnest without bothering with cruel, it is at its emotional best; when it uses earnest to temper the cruelty, it’s pretty solid.

“Secretary’s Day” ultimately falls into the latter category, but in a season which has been on the inconsistent side I’d say that’s nonetheless a good step for the show. There’s some solid negotiation of the new corporate engagement and some fun office dynamics mixed in with an earnest (and dramatically complex) Erin/Andy story, which is the sort of dynamism that has been missing from the show as of late.

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The Office – “Scott’s Tots”

“Scott’s Tots”

December 3rd, 2009

“I’ve made some empty promises in my life, but hands down that was the most generous.”

There is a moment in “Scott’s Tots” where the storyline was going exactly in the direction I wanted it to go in…and in that same moment, there was every potential that it would go in a direction that would legitimately bother me.

Such is the tightrope that this episode chooses to walk by effectively demonstrating the aftermath, rather than the initiation, of one of Michael Scott’s horrible miscalculations. The show loves mining the comedy from Michael putting his foot in its mouth, but rarely does it craft so elaborate a scenario where Michael is forced to do precisely the opposite. The episode is about what happens when Michael is finally forced to pull the foot out of his mouth and try to make up for what he’s done, making up for a past mistake rather than receiving an immediate comic comeuppance for his error of judgment.

There are a number of logical leaps that make this episode inherently problematic, and I can see what many would turn against the episode considering the direction it heads in, but the situation “Scott’s Tots” creates is so inherently part of his characters and his journey that the episode feels like a perfect character piece to show the consequences of Michael Scott’s dreams living beyond his means (and, in some instances, his brains).

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The Office – “Murder”

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“Murder”

November 12th, 2009

The best thing about The Office is that its silliest episodes can sometimes be its most effective. An episode like “Cafe Disco” last season was the perfect way to break through the tension of the Michael Scott Paper Company period, devolving into a dance party that helped to bring everyone back together albeit through a less than serious structure. While the show can go off the rails if things become too silly, there is something very honest about situations where the silliness is the result of a human response to a crisis, or to a period of tension. Michael Scott is not the only person in the world who doesn’t like tense situations, although he may be the only one who decides to turn his office into a dance party or, as we see in “Murder,” the scene of a vicious murder.

What makes the episode work is that it continues a couple of ongoing character trends (Jim slowly turning into Michael, Andy’s interest in Erin) in an episode that otherwise devolves into the office’s crazier characters overacting their way through a murder mystery in a box while the rest of the characters contemplate some major financial restructuring. It’s a good introduction to what seems like the next major arc for the series, and I think it’s an effective piece of television comedy in the process.

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