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"Ungrateful Beyotch Hotline": Product Recall for Dunder-Mifflin on "The Office"

It's always so satisfying when an episode really hits its mark and last night's episode of The Office ("Product Recall") was no exception, delivering an installment that featured several zany storylines without feeling contrived or forced, as Dunder-Mifflin Scranton goes into damage control mode when an obscene watermark appears on a shipment of paper, Creed sets up one of the paper mill supervisors to take the fall, and Andy and Jim travel to the high school, where they learn that Andy's new girlfriend is, er, under age.

Cold Open/Tag. Before I say anything else, I have to comment on what was possibly one of the funniest cold opens ever on this series. I was laughing so hard I nearly choked when Jim came into the office dressed as Dwight, complete with mustard-colored short-sleeved shirt and tie and the $4 drug store glasses, before ratting off some of Dwight's favorite topics ("Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica") and then engaging him in a battle of wits (poor Dwight, will you ever learn). Likewise, the series has never before used a set of bookending cold opens and tags before and I thought last night was a completely novel way of using a mirroring device. At the episode's end, Dwight showed up for work dressed as Jim, complete with poncey haircut, messenger bag casually thrown over his shoulder, and a slightly rumpled suit. As everyone tells Mr. Schrute how fantastic he looks, he keeps mugging for the camera, adding his spin on that trademark Jim grimace we all know and love. Brilliant.

Kelly. Can I just say how much I love Kelly (Mindy Kaling)? I absolutely loved the scenes where she trained Oscar, Angela, and Kevin on customer relations and how to use the phone. Kelly manages to stay just on the right side of the line of lovable irritant and her OTT bubbly personality came through last night. I thought it was perfect that she would pretend to be Bridget Jones on the phone with customers and talk in a put-on British accent... and that she would commend Kevin on his truly awful attempt to talk to the disgruntled customers as an Aussie. Scenes with her and Angela are always a pleasure to watch as the two of them are such diametrically opposed characters; the scene where Kelly attempts to correct Angela's gruesome service skills was also a particular delight.

Andy. I'm actually not as against Andy coming back to the series as I was before it actually happened. This new Andy (a.k.a. Drew) is much more toned down and socially awkward ("beer me") than his pre-anger management stint doppelganger, who was so over the top with his behavior that it actually took some of the shine off of Michael. But now he's calmed down into more of a doofus (in an entirely different way than Dwight) that I don't feel threatened by his return anymore. His scenes with Jim last night were hysterical as he slowly (very slowly) realizes that his new girlfriend is actually a student at the high school (not a sexy guidance counselor or, er, tutor) and then wigs out in front of the principal ("I want to take out an ad in the yearbook. Two words."). Thankfully, Jim is there to not only protect the proceeding from turning violent but also manages to cheer him up afterwards, with some much needed a cappella singing.

Creed. I love the scary/crazy Creed--we learned this week that he used to be homeless and, apparently, has no morals whatsoever--and this episode squarely featured the squirrelly old guy in just the right amount of screen time. (Any more would have been Creed overkill.) I loved the fact that he's blown off the last year of quality assurance drive-bys at the paper mill (just what does this guy do all day? besides growing mung-beans in his desk?) and then pins the entire watermark affair on some hapless mill supervisor who wasn't even there the day Creed pretends to have stopped by. Who else would pass out a going-away card for the employee he got fired and then pocket the goodwill cash that came along with it, tossing the card in the garbage? Just Creed.

Apology video. I thought that this week's apology video, shot as always by Pam (Michael always prefers the vids have a "woman's touch"), was brilliant. As Michael rambles on, making ultimatums and not being all that coherent, a homemade taped up American flag (printed on four separate pieces of paper) lurks conspicuously behind him it. I love how the juxtaposition of media savvy, however false, with a lack of any real human understand completely define Michael Scott. And how awkward was the scene between Michael and the irate customer played by Popular's green apple-loving Lisa Darr, who refuses to accept Michael and Dunder-Mifflin's apology? Even after he's presented her with an oversized novelty check? Michael urges her to call the "ungrateful beyotch hotline," in full view of the single press member he managed to get to come to his inane press conferenece, reminding all of us just how clueless he really is.

Next week on The Office ("Women's Appreciation"), after Phyllis is, er, confronted by a flasher, Dwight and Andy team up to catch the predator, while Michael, who has some personal problems of his own, attempts to comfort and console the women in his own unique style: by taking them on a very special outing.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I *loved* last night's episode of "The Office." It was simple and fun and let all of the characters do what they do best...whether it be Creed being creepy or Michael being clueless or Andy (sorry, "Drew") getting his a cappella groove on.

I agree that this cold open was one of the best so far. (Although I still love the one where they put Dwight's desk in the bathroom!) But seeing Jim dressed up in that mustard yellow shirt was definitely a highlight of my night!
The CineManiac said…
This week's cold open was the best since Jim popped Dwight's Exercise Ball with the scissors in early season 2.
As for Andy, I agree that he's much more welcome now that he's toned it down and the fact that he's a man in his late 30s unknowingly dating a teenager was a perfect fit for the character.
Anonymous said…
I thought this was a fantastic episode. I loved the cold open with Dwight/Jim, Creed's consistent nuttiness and the apology video.

I knew I recognized the customer from somewhere! Its Lisa Darr from POPULAR. (You are on top of this as always)
Unknown said…
"Lord, beer me strength." Such a useful phrase! The new AnDrew is so much better. This episode lasted 50 minutes for me as my TiVo happily rewound to re-watch the more hysterical scenes. It was a well-balanced episode that didn't focus too long on any one eccentric character.
Unknown said…
Anyone know who the guest star was who refused to accept Michael's apology at the press conference?
Anonymous said…
Um, Alex. Didn't you read the article? It was in there.
Anonymous said…
This was definitely one of the best episodes of the season. Solid from beginning to end. The bookends were perfect. Especially with Dwight still not getting it, by going around in the tag announcing that he was Jim.

About halfway through the client/big check scene I had that "Oh!! Lisa Darr! Lisa Darr!" It's always such a relief when I can't place someone right away and then I do. :)

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