The Office: "Training Day"


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Will Ferrell is arguably the most famous guest star The Office has ever had. His appearance had been hyped for months. And "Training Day" was the first step in the "official" leg of the Michael Scott Farewell tour. So how did this episode wind up so stultifyingly average?

Part of the problem was with Ferrell's character, incoming Scranton Branch manager D'Angelo Vickers. For someone who's beginning a four-episode arc, this part felt incredibly under-written (although with a hell of a name). Perhaps that was by design; maybe the writers just wanted to give Ferrell a rough sketch and trust his improvisational skills to take over. In any case, the result was kind of a blank. At times he came off as a slightly more competent Michael; at other times he had shades of a capricious bully (goading a clearly uncomfortable new employee into making him laugh at every single encounter, for instance, is just petty).

Another part of the problem was, it simply wasn't fun to watch everyone falling over themselves to kiss D'Angelo's ass. Pam and Jim, especially, felt jarringly out of character here, shoving pictures and anecdotes about Cece in his face. Andy's bit, in which he's accidentally dubbed the office "funny guy" and then resorts to a series of pratfalls in a pathetic bid to keep the boss laughing, was amusing mostly because of Ed Helms's game performance.

True to my worries for what this arc meant for the show, "Training Day" basically coasted on the rapport of its lead and its guest star. That worked to entertaining effect in the cold open, which was almost certainly the result of a Carrell-Ferrell improv. After that, it descended into a watered-down version of the Charles Minor arc from season five. Comparisons to that excellent storyline are probably unavoidable, since once again a new manager will be crowding Michael's turf while he's still on it.

But after the fantastic return to form in ""Garage Sale," I was hoping that The Office would bring its A-game to the final batch of Carrell episodes after all. After this week, I'm back to being concerned.

Other notes:
  • Did anyone else think, given the title, that Michael would launch into a Training Day spoof at some point, complete with garbled Denzel impression? I kinda wanted to hear him bark the "King Kong" line.
  • "Colorado: The Sunshine State." "Don't mess with Colorado."
  • "Everyone I know who skis is dead."
  • "What're you going to miss most about Scranton?" "The mountains...where things are..."
  • Even in a weak season, Kevin has consistently gotten funny gags, and the runner about his toupee was no exception.
  • "And that is what they call a meet-cute."
  • "Now I'm going to have to go online and look at turtles, otherwise I'm going to be off all day."
  • Dwight's resentment at Michael not recommending him, and at having to be a "right-hand man" again, does have some potential to provide strong moments for both characters in the episodes ahead. Fingers crossed.
  • "Burned! It's lush, dummy!"
  • "Dunder Mifflin, This is. Oh yeah, I like it."
  • "Finish the joke, Andy. What DO African-Americans like?" "I don't know, help me!"
  • "I guess this is my life now."
  • "You might want to develop a couple characters."
  • "What is the Native American girl's name?"
  • "That baby could be the star of a show called, 'Babies I Don't Care About.'"

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  • I used the think the Office was a great show but the show really sucks now. Last night was a big disappointment. Do they have new writers? Its not funny anymore.

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