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The Office – The Inner Circle

It really didn't take that long for Deangelo Vickers to turn into a full on Will Ferrell character. And while it's a bit disappointing that that's what he ended up being, it's okay because this was his last episode. These last couple weeks are going to explore the question of who takes over running the Scranton branch now that Vickers is in the hospital with apparently serious brain damage (the closing segment with Ferrell wandering into the office one last time in a hospital gown and failing to produce a cogent sentence was both funny and quite sad, if you really look at it), but obviously it's not going to be someone particularly famous. They're bringing a few big names on to celebrate seven years of The Office for a little bit, but no movie star, or even established TV lead, is going to want to take over somebody else's show in the eight season. Darryl or Andy or Dwight (probably not Jim, I don't think) will be the new boss, and the show will trundle on without its leader. I think it's a mistake to go this route, but there's no stopping it. We might as well just enjoy the talent they've brought on for a moment, and I had quite a few laughs last night.

With Michael gone, Deangelo has fully taken control of the office and established an inner circle of employees that he favors, of Jim, Kevin, Gabe, and Darryl. Conspicuously they're all men, even though a couple department heads like Pam and Angela are women. Not that anything important really goes on in these meetings - Deangelo has a few vague ideas for getting new clients, but mostly he just brags to his peons and hires attractive women to be his assistant behind closed doors. Jim brings up the lack of women and is unceremoniously cast out from the inner circle, replaced by Andy after Dwight again refuses to become friendly with the new regime. Then an ill-considered comment by Deangelo that he could recreate Michael Jordan's free throw line dunk results in a challenge down in the warehouse, where he manages a pretty decent slam before hanging on to the rim too long and bringing the whole basket down on himself. He gets carted off to the hospital, and his staff wonders what happens next.

 The Office

And that's pretty much it for story in this episode! If you were hoping for something deeper out of Ferrell's little arc on the series you'd probably be coming away disappointed. And I was a little let down that the character seemed kind of inconsistent and only written as far as it was required to get the jokes the writers wanted, but I still had a good time with his stint on the show. The juggling gag was kind of prolonged for what it did, though some elements of the whole shebang were fun, like his refusal to use Andy's gear and Kevin being impressed that he didn't drop any. The smaller stuff worked a little better - just things like his approximate guesses at square footage (and the circle's agreement with his assessments) and how he explains away a miss on a toy basketball hoop.

I think the Ryan and Kelly subplot was easily the biggest thing either of them have had to do this year, and the way it explored the dynamics of their heavily flawed and damaged relationship was pretty entertaining. Ryan treating his girlfriend like crap just so he can pretend he actually does anything for the company was balanced by her using it to force him into things he didn't want to do, and it also served to support the thread of Deangelo being sexist when he didn't even consider Kelly's side of the story. The new assistant Jordan didn't really have much to do and hardly even registered as a new character, which probably isn't a good thing when she might end up being a regular on the show. There's just not anything funny about her yet - she's inexperienced, both in a corporate environment and in dealing with strange people, and I'm not sure what the point is at this point. Not much else to really go over - it was a pretty breezy, unremarkable episode. I had a pretty good time, but it was far from the funniest or most effective thing they've done this year. Next week Dwight gets a chance to run the show, at least for a little while, though I sort of have the feeling the material won't exactly end up seeming fresh. Michael leaving early kind of disrupted the momentum they had going - we'll see if they can get it back for the hour long finale the week after.


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