Skip to main content

Leave It, Ricky: What Did You Think of The Office's Scranton/Slough Crossover?

I'm of two minds about last night's crossover cold open on NBC's The Office ("The Seminar"), which, if you missed it, can be viewed in full below.

Let's be upfront about this: I'm an obsessive fan of the original UK Office, so the chance to see Ricky Gervais don David Brent's goatee was absolutely priceless, but I've also given up watching the US version for a while now as, in the last few seasons, it's descended into a bit of a tired and humorless mess.

Having said that, I thought that the chance encounter between Steve Carell's Michael Scott and Gervais' David Brent was a bit of a hoot at first, and easily the funniest cold open The Office has pulled off in quite some time (from what I remember of the last few seasons I watched).

Seeing the simpatico spirit that exists between the two men, each versions of each other, was unexpectedly touching, even as the two joked around and David asked if there were any jobs going around at Dunder-Mifflin.

Was it wonderful to see David Brent up to his old tricks, telling vaguely offensive jokes, giggling naughtily, and waxing philosophically about the nature of comedy "tickling the mind"? Absolutely. But there was also something oddly troubling about the sequence as well, something that got under my skin last night.

Could it be the fact that Gervais himself spoke out against appearing on-screen on the American version just a few years back, decrying it as potentially "desperate"? Or could it be the fact that the encounter seemed to establish that the events of The Office, unfolding in Slough and Scranton, are in fact taking place within the same narrative "universe"?

It's true that, over the last few seasons, these two characters have gone in wildly divergent directions in terms of their outlook and behavior while still retaining a bit of the same shared blueprint at their core. I think that Brent would have skewered Scott alive had the two had to spend more than a few minutes together; Gervais' boss is inherently a terrible, awful individual, while Michael is more of a bumbling idiot who fails to read social cues and offends because he's in search of the perfect punchline, a quest to achieve acceptance and (in his mind) fame.

But the fact that we're now meant to believe that these two paper merchant bosses and their similar staffs are in fact co-existing got under my skin in a way that the showrunners clearly did not intend. (Am I alone in this thinking?)

With Steve Carell set to leave The Office at the end of the season, it seemed likely that Gervais would make a drop-in on the show before Michael Scott heads to the paper warehouse in the sky (or, well, wherever Michael is heading next) and while I spent those few minutes chuckling, it wasn't enough to keep me from turning over once the credit sequence began. These days, the Office I most want to visit is Wernham Hogg, if I'm being honest.

But I am curious to know what you thought of the encounter between Gervais and Carell last night: was it a stroke of brilliance or a desperate ploy? Head to the comments section to discuss.


Anonymous said…
You're way overthinking this one.
Andrew said…
I'm of two minds on this. First, it was simply a funny scene. Gervais and Carrell can be very funny playing off each other (e.g. the Emmys "confrontation" from a couple of years ago). But it seemed more stunt-like and disconnected from the reality that the Office inhabits at its best. Might this be a true Jump-the-Shark moment?
Anonymous said…
Smacked of desperation. These people have no ideas left.
Magnolia said…
You're definitely overthinking it.
wackiland said…
I laughed out loud. And I don't get to do that enough these days... But I do miss David Brent.
Laz said…
You're way oversimplifying their characters to make your point. You say they still retain "a bit" of outlook/behavioral overlap, but it's really more than that - they're bosses who think they're funnier/more charismatic than they really are, from which obliviously they delude themselves into committing a series of social blunders, ha ha. I do agree that Brent could have "scewered" (whatever that means exactly), but less because David Brent is a soulless human being and more probably because Michael couldn't compete with a British accent. Michael's definitely more of a softie, a romantic, an innocent. David Brent might be, but he's not as in touch with himself as Michael is. But Michael is certainly not bumbling, at least not all the time. Sometimes we forget that he can slip away into a very anonymous, very average existence. I recall a scene in the park, feeding birds with whole pieces of bread.

I've been a US Office fan from the get-go, and I'll stick up for the last three seasons any day.
D.M said…
So simple

... it was a brilliant cameo and a great way to send off Steve Carell

nothing more or less
Fido said…
Their meeting was interesting rather than classic. Almost made up for the rest of the ep being decidely meh (apart from the scrabble). As for jumping the shark, methinks they did that when the ptb introduce the female Michael character as his love interest.

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous seas