The Office 4:02 review

Dunder Mifflin Scranton is moving into the future. No, really, it is. And Ron's going along for the ride...

Another hour-long special edition of The Office, another two episodes compressed into one. As usual, the two different episodes mashed together are about as divergent as could possibly be. On one hand, you have Ryan’s efforts to streamline the office, make it more technologically advanced and user friendly and Michael’s attempts to derail, in his words, “all new technology ever.” We’ll get to the other half of the episode shortly.

Ryan is back, and he’s ready to move Dunder Mifflin Scranton into the future. There’s going to be a new website, and everyone is getting mandatory Blackberries. Right away you see the developing problem, as the older generation of workers are immediately confused and resistant to all new technological changes, just like in real life. And just like in real life, Ryan is going to stick around the office until everyone has their Blackberries set up and working.

Ryan sees it as a way to make the company leaner, more competitive, and more agile. Michael, of course, is immediately resistant, especially once Creed convinces Michael it is all an elaborate plot to get rid of the older generation of workers. Michael, in a rare display of guts, publicly stands up to his boss Ryan and decides that he’s going to prove that the old ways of doing business are still the best, through the magic of “sugar and fat, because that’s what people like.” The magic tool to win back lost clients is not an easy website or lower prices, it’s gift baskets!

Meanwhile, the second portion of our double episode is a relationship-heavy bit about the various office romances and intracharacter relationships featured on The Office. Jim and Pam are now public, and as anyone who has ever hidden a relationship from coworkers or her husband knows, that openness takes a lot of the fun out of things. So their relationship is in a bit of trouble, though it doesn’t affect them as much as what happened to our next featured couple.

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You see, last week Dwight kind of killed his girlfriend’s beloved cat Sprinkles. As a rule, relationships generally don’t last once you murder your woman’s favorite pet, even if your relationship is between two people as screwed up as Dwight and Angela. Dwight tries to make it up to Angela by giving her a feral cat, but that doesn’t go over so well as most people don’t want a pet that wants to chew off their face. So over a nice dinner designed to show how wrong those two are for each other on a fundamental level, they break up. Dwight, being Dwight, doesn’t take it al that well but handles it in the most sociopathic way possible.

And that leaves us with the centerpiece/antagonist of our episode, Ryan, and his relationship with the cute but kind of demented Kelly. She gets the brilliant idea to fake being pregnant in an attempt to win Ryan back. When discovering her ruse, Ryan tries to have Kelly’s job outsourced to India, in one of the funnier moments of the night. Andy and Kevin find themselves firmly pulled into the cult of Ryan, and Andy justifies this to Tuna Jim in our line of the night, which I’ll get to later.

Robert Dunder shows up, and is blatantly insulted by the clueless Michael who tries to use the old man as an example that old people can still be productive in the workplace. He fails.

Meanwhile, Creed paints his head black with toner powder and starts using hilariously bad slang to try and be younger. He even asks for Red Bull in the vending machine, because sometimes, “you gotta ride the bull.” Later skater!

Andy and Dwight, who needs to get away from Angela and have a good random cry, get out and start delivering gift baskets to their old customers. At every turn, their gifts and personal touch are basically ignored in the pursuit of lower prices. Tensions rise.

After a wrong turn thanks to the in-car GPS unit in Michael’s rental car, Michael has a breakdown. He freaks out, and decides to return to the last place they stopped, get their gift basket back, and return to the office. After much yelling on the part of Michael and Dwight, their basket is returned, Michael makes a great speech railing against technology and machines trying to murder him, and we cut out on a sweet moment with Michael watching, and eventually smiling, as the gang enjoys the contents of one of the personal touch gift baskets Michael got back.

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It wasn’t a great episode, and most of the stuff with the relationships kind of fell flat for me. Big chunks of the Michael and Dwight road trip, for me, kind of felt like filler to pad the episode out to the full running time. Most of the relationship stuff didn’t do much for me either, except for Pam shooting down Ryan’s date attempt and the moment where Michael asks Jan if having a Blackberry would affect his testicles and ability to produce healthy sperm.

Let’s go to the scorecard:Line of the Night: Andy: “If you don’t know why that’s awesome, then… you need awesome lessons!”

Who Earned 10 Schrutebucks: No one really stood out to me as much as Angela did last week, but since I have to give out Schrutebucks, I’ll give 10 Schrutebucks to Creed for painting his skull coal black.

Who Has Been Deducted 50 Schrutebucks: The writers have lost Schrutebucks for forcing these two episodes together to satisfy NBC. It’s not that I don’t like the hour-long Office, it’s just that it feels padded. Some of this stuff should have been cut, and a lot of the jokes fell flat, especially Robert Dunder’s entire segment.

Missed last week’s review? Catch up here.Ron Hogan doesn’t have a Blackberry, but he is worried about the effect of radiation on his testicles. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and the Flektor Development Blog.