Sunday, May 8, 2011

What I’m Watching: The Office

The Office: Season 7, Episode 23 “The Inner Circle” (B)

This first post-Michael episode isn’t superb, but it’s entirely entertaining and engaging. It’s startling to see Steve Carell cropped from the credits, and the show definitely won’t be the same without him. What’s importantly and effectively done in this episode, however, is to flesh out the rest of the characters by drawing on what makes them unique and what that means for their interactions with the new boss. It was especially fun and equally ridiculous to see Ryan having Kelly pretend that she was his subordinate so that it would actually seem like he served some purpose at Dunder-Mifflin. Deangelo’s reaction to that situation and others, of course, proves his incompetence and underlines how he wouldn’t work in a lasting role on the show. Jim, as always, is the most astutely observant one, refusing to believe his mimed juggling routine and forcing him to prove himself, only to have him collapse a basketball hoop on top of himself and get sent to the hospital. The male-female inequality prior to Deangelo being knocked out of commission wasn’t all that original, and the brain trust was an equal if not somewhat paler version of Michael’s female advisory committee. Dwight was too much of an outright jerk to him, and he works better when he’s sucking up than being publicly insubordinate. I’m hopeful that whoever comes in after Deangelo will be a bit of a different character, though Will Ferrell hasn’t been bad. I do feel that the way this episode’s ratings have been reported is very misleading, citing a big drop from last week’s installment when that episode garnered a particularly high amount of viewers, unusually high for the show at this point.

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