THE OFFICE: Advertising is About Big Ideas. If You Want to Sell a Can of Coke, You Don’t Just Show a Can of Damn Coke. You Show a Baby Picking Flowers on the Moon.
Thank God — and trust me, I never thought I’d say this — The Office has finally returned to good ol’ half-hour episodes, following the 4 one-hour episodes that kicked off the fourth season. Whereas parts of those first four episodes seemed to drag, last night’s epi, “Local Ad”, was exactly the right amount - just long enough, and enough funny to last the whole episode. And in better news, Michael Scott was back to his old self, and sans the ennui that was permeating the beginning of the season. Break me off a piece of that football cream, you guys.
The episode kicks off with Michael telling his employees that corporate wants them to create a Dunder-Mifflin commercial to air on local markets. Phyllis would like to take the ad in the direction of “dancing baby”, whereas Andy has trouble filling in the remainder of the Kit Kat jingle. Applesauce? Chrysler car? Football cream, that’s gotta be it. Michael concurs. The creative ad team sent by corporate shows up, with Michael gives them a personality tour of his coworkers: The Nard Dog gives killer backrubs and fartful aromatherapy sessions, Stanley holds the key to the urban vibe, and Phyllis is a nightmare-inducing talking bottle of maple syrup. Kevin, Ang and Oscar are all different sizes, Oscar, of course being the Mama bear.
Jim is now interviewed as saying that most people don’t know what “Dunder Mifflin” means. This is very confusing for me, and something that has sort of bothered me all season. See, if there’s a documentary crew filming these guys, then who, exactly, is watching this documentary? They can’t openly acknowledge the cameras and the doc crew and then pretend that no one has any idea who they are! Is the footage shown somewhere in Russia, alongside the fake Russian Nanny and the fake Cosby family (made up of Chechnians?) Because I could actually see Chechnians believe that mufflers are made out of paper… Anyway, it sort of bothers me that the “fame” of Scranton’s most well known employees is never acknowledged. Isn’t the fake documentary a “local” ad in itself? You know David Wallace is dying of jealousy.
Let’s put human logic aside for a second and continue with the recap. Dwight, unsurprisingly, plays Second Life. In Second Life, his character is named Dwight, looks like a paper salesman, actually sells paper, and can fly. Second Life Dwight is magical. We totally wish there was a Second Life Angela who was barren, lived in a house full of 8,000 cats, and her special skill is being able to communicate with God and freeze people with her stare.
Michael pitches his Ad idea to the creative guys, which involves a lot of “Zooming Out”, a field to an oasis to a jail yard, etc. Dare I say he stole his idea from the finale of Men In Black? (Side note: Remember when CGI was kind of sucky, Jumanji?) The actual ad the creative guys had in mind is a real stinker: A guy who is a complete Cheesemeister (yes, I just added -meister to something) walking around a gigantic paperstore aimlessly. He’s trying to get help, but at every turrrrrn…. NOPE! The actor is clearly some sort of Broadway dancer looking to break into television - you don’t pick up those tight turns naturally… that’s like 3rd-year Juilliard-stizz. The camera finally cuts to some other Dunderlings looking up at a camera and waving. Very low budg, and Michael agrees.
Andy finds Dwight to gossip about hooking up with Angela. OK, hooking up isn’t the right term — they’re literally necking, locking and cuddling necks. Dwight absorbs the aural pain of this slowly. He tells Andy they can’t talk about this in the office, rather they need codenames: Angela stays Angela, and Andy turns to Dwight… no, no, Dwike! Might I just say, Rainn Wilson’s acting this season has been such a delight — more subtle (and more hilarious) than ever before, and less up Michael’s ass, which is sort of a treat. His interactions with Andy are priceless.
Shrek’s Donkey (Michael) rings up Ryan to complain about the ad guys. Ryan shoots him down, even though Mike’s Cereal Shack sounds fantastic! Almost as good as Kramer’s “Make Your Own Pizza” restaurant. Michael tells us that he invented unicorns at 5, even though he still didn’t speak. Newly confident from his unicorn-dreaming skillz, he tells the ad people to come back at Never Hundred Hours. And aww…. Ryan will always be Michael’s little bitch. Belle of the Ball 4VR.
Whoever tells Dwight he’s not creative should be slapped. Kevin then BLOWS MY F**KING MIND with an AMAZING Kool Aid Man impression!! It is at this moment I realize that if Robert De Niro ever gained 400 pounds, he would LITERALLY look like the Kool Aid Guy. And instead of Kool Aid, he’d be filled with the blood of dead mafia dons. Also, Meredith makes porn. Phyllis gasps and announces that mystery writer Sue Grafton will be at the Steamtown Mall - the perfect celebrity for Dunder’s local ad! She goes off to recruit, and Michael tells her to stop at nothing.
Let’s be honest: If Darryl, Kevin, Kelly, Andy and Creed actually had an album of slow jams to make love to by, you would totally buy it, right? It’s jingle time! And Dunder Scranton’s 5 most musical members have banned together to croon their way to sales. But perhaps “Dunder Mifflin: The People Person’s Paper People” is a little mouthy? Michael wants rap, and offers to make a “clueless” Darryl a mix CD. Seriously, what rap songs do you guys think would be on a Michael Scott Rap Mix CD? It would clearly be titled “That’s a Rap”, and include mostly white people, like Gwen Stefani and LFO. “Butterfly” would probably be on there, Linkin Park for sure. I see an O.P.P. track, and maybe Barry White? No real rap, of course. Though it would be funny if Akinyele’s “Put It In Your Mouth” (That’s what she said) was thrown in for good measure. Anyway, I personally preferred Darryl’s updated, Luther Vandross-y version of the jingle we heard a little later on.
Second Life Jim “Samtanko” looks like Keanu Reeves.
BAD NEWS: Sue Grafton ain’t interested in the people person’s paper people. She broke Phyllis’ heart! That bitch. I will never read another Sue Grafton book again, even if I’m stuck on the toilet for 20 years in the mystery section of a Barnes & Noble. Has anyone ever discussed what an amazing actress Phyllis is? So believable! Even if her crying noise sounds suspiciously like the sound effect of Pac Man dying… I love that woman. Kevin hands her a piece of tape to blow her nose into.
Pam sleeps at her desk to get her animated logo finished. Pam and Jim were very sweet and natural this episode, which was good to see. Andy, who much be clueless or brain damaged, heads over to tell Dwight about his latest hook-up with Angela. They finally kissed! And… she called him D. SHE CALLED HIM D! OH D! Maniacal laughter… OH D! Angela and Dwight = MFEO.
Michael sends his version of the commercial to corporate, and it’s a no go. Sadly. The team heads over to Poor Richards to catch the television premiere of corporate’s version of the commercial and it is, yes, quite lame. Jim, a mensch, gets the bartender to play the Michael Scott Director’s Cut of the ad… It’s like the Rudy Ruettiger of commercials. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:
SO INSPIRING! From the editing, to “You Have a Son. It’s Me.” to the string attached to all the paper to pull it along, it’s a noble effort, and one that would have me buying paper morning, noon and night. Michael truly is the World’s Most Creative Boss! Or like, the 11,000th. He buys his coworkers a round of drinks, bankruptcy be damned. Break me off a piece of that Fancy Feast.
Now I know I’ve been sort of down on these past few episodes of The Office, but I absolutely loved this one. Full of jokes, full of heart, and just the right amount of time. Even though I still think Jim has been sort of lazy in the “spark” department, Andy has more than made up for the drought. Michael seemed to be back to his old self too! And the fact that Darryl has been making appearances in each episode has been the light my life has been missing.
So, how much longer until Angela and Dwight get back together? That is going to be explosive… especially if Andy get jealous (which he will.) And I really, REALLY, want Kelly to get pregnant and not know who the daddy is. This would be the greatest gift.
If any of you missed the episode, the ultra-generous NBC has begun posting entire episodes online — you can watch it here. (Also check out 30 Rock, it was to die for. My crush on Alec Baldwin knows no abusive bounds.)