This was an unusual evening for NBC's Thursday night comedies. For starters, there was the hour long series finale of 30 Rock, which was really good and I shall miss that show. However, there was also not one but two new episodes of The Office. That leaves me with two episodes to review. I don't know if I shall be able to do them both in one evening, but, in the end, both of tonight's episodes shall be reviewed, for I am a man of integrity. For starters, here's my thoughts on the first episode of the night, "Junior Salesman."
As you probably recall from last week, The Office made a big reveal. We saw the crew, namely a sound guy named Brian. This was a divisive thing on the internet. I was sort of alright with it, but some folks made good points that whenever they do stuff like this, it sheds light on all the logistical issues with this as a documentary. Others don't really care to meet the crew, and they were worried about Brian's future role. I agree more with the later than the former. Fortunately, most of this episode is Dwight-centric. Unfortunately, it is bookended by unpleasant Brian business. Also, apparently the guy who plays Brian played Moe in the Three Stooges movie. Small world.
The cold open, admittedly, was acceptable. From a camera that has apparently been left running on the ground, we overhear (and see the legs of) a conversation between Brian and Pam where they clear the air and stuff and let us know that Jim and Pam are mending fences. We also find out Brian got in trouble for this interaction. Not enough for them to refrain from showing it on TV, at least in theory. Unless we are watching a documentary about the making of a documentary about a paper company. Then Meredith makes a pass at Brian. Also, I'm really enjoying Meredith's varied wigs (the one in the second episode was better, but that's for another review).
With Jim working part-time in Dunder-Mifflin now, the company is going to hire a new Junior Salesperson, or Salesman, if you don't want to be politically correct. Clark really wants the job, but Dwight is doing the hiring, and he really wants to hire a friend. For too long, his desk clump has been him and then Jim and Pam, the dynamic duo. He wants to change the tide for once. Jim, on the other hand, is worried about Pam, and who she will have to deal with, so he's throwing himself behind Clark.
The first two folks in this rogue's gallery are Rolf, played by James Urbaniak, and Trevor, the guy played by Chris Gethard who was going to murder Oscar for Angela. Remember that dumb bit of business? However, Dwight's dream is dashed when Rolf and Trevor completely bomb their interviews to such a degree he can't reasonably hire them. In the end, he has his loyalties to the company. Meanwhile, Clark has minty breath and really wants the job, but Dwight fears he is a Halpert at heart even if he is looks like Dwight.
Clark nails the interview by pulling that Star Trek thing that Kirk does where he rigged the system in his favor. Dwight won't relent, however, and so in desperation he calls in all of his friends. We then get an excellent reveal of a sordid bunch of eccentric and unsettling characters in the conference room. Including Mose! Mose!
It makes sense that a guy like Dwight would have a bunch of strange friends, and now everybody is in fear of working alongside any of these guys. Nate, the really dumb warehouse guy, is the best option. It's a real murderer's row. There's Troy, the guy Dwight assumes is a hobbit or other magical creature, Dwight's old babysitter/lover, some guy named Wolf who is a super intense paintball player, Dwight's sensei, and Gabor, played by the Eric in Tim and Eric, who apparently went to X-Men school with Dwight. Evidently, Dwight and Gabor were taken in by some scam school that purported to help kids with mutant powers. This was one of the most cartoonish things in the history of the many cartoonish things involving Dwight. This was a bridge too far. Also, Badger from Breaking Bad plays Dwight's cousin. He was supposed to be a character on the Dwight spinoff.
Dwight keeps trying to get somebody, anybody, to be qualified for the job. Obviously, Mose's scene was great, because Mose is all things to all people, but this stuff was actually funny for the most part. There were a lot of funny jokes involving the bizarre folks Dwight hangs out with, and it was fun to watch Dwight realize he is in over his head, and then realize he can't hire any of these guys. More than that, if he doesn't hire any of them, they will likely feel resentment, and you don't want guys like Rolf angry with you.
Earlier on, when Jim had tried to get in on the hiring process, David Wallace rebuffed him, but now Dwight wants him around, if only to take the fall. Jim tries, and Dwight tries to feign outrage, but it doesn't work, and then everybody goes paintballing without him. So, are all these guys friends too? Is this like a circle of friends? Or are they just all cool with paintballing and they have a lot of time to kill? Clark gets the job, Jim heads off to Philly having done something nice for Pam, and saving the day for everybody, and Dwight sulks when he gets a photo from the paintball game with several middle fingers extended toward him.
Dwight still has one friend, however, in Pam, who asks Dwight if he wants to haze Clark. Unfortunately, Dwight misconstrues things, and ends up holding saran wrap over Clark's face. This was another issue.
However, this was a really funny story, and it took up pretty much the entire episode. The arc was interesting, the characters were humorous and gave off a nice vibe, if I may describe things in an odd, somewhat nebulous fashion. What I mean is that the energy of these bizarre characters was unique to this show, and it provided a change of pace, and a good one, in a show that is nearing its end. At times, it was a bridge too far in terms of goofiness, but overall it was enjoyable.
Yep, even in an episode with almost literally no Erin, or really anybody that isn't Dwight, Jim, Pam, or Clark, things were going strong heading toward the end. Then, as Jim gave a speech about falling in love with Pam because of sitting near her all those years, we get a closeup of Brian the sound guy with a smile on his face. The message is clear. If I were the world's largest spider, living deep within the caves of Laos, I would have rolled all 10 of my essentially vestigial eyes at this.
Maybe some people care about this. Perhaps people think this is interesting. I just could not care less. It feels so tacked on and clumsy and dumb. We already got new characters in Pete and Clark and, to be fair, both have been integrated pretty well. In fact, the Pete and Erin stuff has been alright. However, suddenly a sound guy is in love with Pam and Jim is out of town and they are having troubles and I really think this is inane. It feels forced and I don't know why they are bothering. Jim and Pam are having problems. That's good enough to create drama before they inevitably end up in Philly with a happily ever after ending. Don't make Brian the sound guy version of Kathy.
Still, despite this ending, I enjoyed this episode. It may have culminated poorly, but the Dwight storyline made up almost the entire episode, and it was actually good. Plus, they didn't push the Brian stuff too far... yet. I am wary about the future, but "Junior Salesman" was good even if it raises concerns.