The Office season 4 episode 4 review

Ron nearly missed The Office this week. But it turned out okay in the end. Even the Apocalypse can't keep us from our telly...

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So I sit down to review Thursday’s episode of The Office and what do I find waiting for me on my DVR? Why, an hour’s worth of inclement weather coverage, designed to scare me into believing that what I had noticed as a simple rainstorm was actually the Apocalypse. Fire and brimstone, tornadoes coming to eat whole trailer parks, global warming running amok, cats and dogs living together… your basic end of the world scenario.

So I had to resort to doing what Office fans throughout the universe do every Friday after the initial broadcast of the show: I headed over to NBC.com and watched the streaming version of the show. You know something? It wasn’t bad. The video quality was good, the sound quality was decent, and the best part is I didn’t have to watch 1000 promos for the upcoming Dreamworks animated picture Bee Movie, starring Jerry Seinfeld and coming to theaters on November 2, 2007.

…damn, the marketing worked.

First off, we find out that Michael kills dead time at work by watching Meryl Streep movies. Kind of frightening.

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Michael Scott has a high-maintenance girlfriend. She’s used to living the New York lifestyle, with fancy furniture, sports cars, and breast implants. She’s also planning on spending a fortune to redesign Michael’s bachelor pad into something more acceptable to her tastes, which stresses Michael out. To make matters worse, Ryan calls to talk about PowerPoint.

Would you like to visit a working beet farm? Well, Dwight Schrute and Schrute Farms has the agritourism deal of a lifetime. Just don’t call it a bed and breakfast, even though they’re giving you a bed and breakfast. Of course, Jim and Pam jump on this opportunity to get into the frightening confines of Dwight Schrute’s world.

The way Michael solves his money problems, rather than talking things out with Jan, is to… get a second job. Which means that tonight is the night that Jim and Pam decide to offer to hang out with Michael and Jan, because they know they won’t have to. Michael’s second job? Depressingly enough, it’s sketchy phone sales. Even worse for Michael, he’s even worse at that job than he is his day job.

Welcome to the idyllic pastures of Schrute Farms (and by ‘idyllic,’ I mean ‘Motel Hell-level’ creepy). This is where we get to finally meet the infamous Mose Schrute, complete with creepy Amish beard. Shrute Farms has three themed rooms, “America, Irrigation, and Nighttime.” Pam picks Irrigation. When asked if they have any special dietary restrictions or requirements, Jim requests a bedtime story.Michael, as an employee, has quite a bit of Jim’s sarcasm in him. It’s an interesting new side of him that is very refreshing. Michael gets busted by getting Stanley on his call sheet, and later, he gets busted down for actually talking to the customers by deviating from the script. Michael has lots of bonding moments with his fellow call center employees, which is nice. He also has a great interpretation of Die Hard versus Die Hard 4.

That said, seeing Dwight on the farm is also a different side of Dwight. He gets in a manure fight with Mose, and actually seems to, strangely enough, enjoy himself as a farmer. He even gives in from his stance sarlier, and Jim, Pam, and the creepy ogling Mose all get a bedtime story from Dwight.

The nights on Schrute Farm are just as creepy, if not creepier, than the days. First there’s the loud banging noise that wakes Jim and Pam up at night. Mose left the outhouse door open. Later, there’s a frightening keening sound that, as it turns out, is just a very depressed Dwight.

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Michael not only gets in trouble at his night job, but he also gets in trouble with his day job, as Ryan comes by for a meeting about PowerPoint. Darryl and Kelly are there, and Kelly takes the opportunity to slobber all over Darryl in front of Ryan. Just to prove she’s over him, which means she isn’t anywhere close to over him. This leads to a grammar lesson on the use of ‘whoever’ versus ‘whomever,’ and Ryan ordering Michael to quit his night job.

This doesn’t help his money problems, so he turns to Kevin for gambling advice, and tries to get a loan from Oscar. This leads our accounting buddies, Oscar specifically, to go through Michael’s finances and figure out what he’s spending and where all his money goes. Oddly, it’s not all being spent on Jan. Michael has a breakdown and goes running out of the building. Jan to the rescue.

Later, Darryl really puts his pimp hand down on the slightly crazy Kelly, letting her know just where she stands and, as Kelly puts it, “says exactly what’s on his mind. What kind of game is that?!” Meanwhile, Andy captures our old friend Garbage the feral cat outside of Vance Refridgeration, drops him in a box, and unsurprisingly, wins Angela’s heart. Or at least a dinner date. Dwight has a breakdown and goes running to the stairwell. Jim to the rescue.

This episode seems to focus more on the drama and romance, rather than as much of the funny as there was in the last episode, but it works. Jim and Dwight have some very decent human moments, and the interplay between Michael and Jan is incredibly sweet and heartfelt. It all worked out really well, and I can see why Office fans are calling it the best show of the season. While it’s not as funny to me as Launch Party was, it’s still damn good TV.

Line of the Night: Pam: “The Beets Motel. Embassy Beets. Radish Inn.” (on the drive up to Schrute Farms.Who Earned 10 Schrutebucks: Darryl the shipping worker shows a seriously strong pimp hand when it comes to dealing with the, ahem, slightly clingy Kelly. He puts her in her place nicely, and reminds her that his daughter comes before any woman, while still being cool. He’s growing on me.Who Has Been Deducted 50 Schrutebucks: Mose Schrute was funny and weird, but he was a little too weird for my tastes. Kind of distracting and cartoony.

The previous episode of The Office is reviewed here.

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Ron Hogan would have picked the America-themed room at Schrute Farms. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and the Flektor Development Blog.