The Unmanageable Manager

Friday, March 20 by

The new boss for the northeastern branches, successor to Jan and Ryan, comes int the office so Michael can introduce him to his branch to get to know it better, while Jim has to suffer because he wore a tux to work that day to mess with Dwight for being strict about the dress code.  The new boss is none too lenient, though, and starts cracking down on office spending while several office women eye his good looks.  Michael doesn’t like the new boss too much, and pesters David about him.  It’s the shot in the arm this Office season needs, and it’s right after the jump.

Episode 18: New Boss
Full Episode Online: NBC Official Site

A Class Act
Michael’s 15th anniversary with Dunder-Mifflin has rolled around, and so he, Dwight, and Pam are in the conference room planning it out.   Dwight’s idea is to have 15 minutes of applause, and then fifteen minutes of silence, while Jim, standing off to the side dressed in a tuxedo and bowtie, doesn’t think it’s classy enough.  Michael agrees, but Dwight says he’s only listening to him because he’s wearing a tux, which Jim reveals in a talking head is because Dwight had recently sent out a memo about the dress code.  Dwight comes up with several ideas, including one with an ice sculpture of Michael covered in chocolate-covered strawberries, but Jim says classy is a state of mind, and Dwight’s trying too hard.  He then says he has his own idea –an ice sculpture of Michael surrounded by chocolate covered fruits, and when Michael suggests strawberries Jim agrees.  Dwight storms out of the room, and everyone in the room agrees it was very unclassy of him.  Good cold open that managed to be funny and informative at the same time, giving us a Jim and Dwight prank while they were at it.

Welcoming the new guy
Charles Miner walks into the office to meet Michael Scott – he’s the new VP for the northeast region.  He sends everyone into the break room for a little surprise, asking Dwight to stall him, while Jim asks him why he didn’t tell him the new boss was coming today, so he could have brought a change of clothes or something.  Michael dismisses it, saying Jim looks stylin’, and he interrupts everyone in the conference room as Dwight is regaling Charles with Dunder-Mifflin’s history, telling them the actual surprise is in the conference room – more than two dozen bagels, all lined up in a row on the table, with part of them cut out so that they each look like “C” for Charles.  Whenever someone new is introduced into the office, it’s always a treat, because we get to watch seemingly “normal” people walk into this loony bin and observe the chemical reactions between the characters that occur, slowly finding out more about them as they interact more.

The Scranton Family
Jim introduces himself to Charles, who asks Jim why he’s wearing a tuxedo, and Jim explains about Dwight’s memo, and how he had to mess with him by coming in a tux, awkwardly trying to explain away the fact that he was ridiculous enough to come into work in a tux.  Pam pulls him away and Jim excuses himself, and later Michael brings Charles out into the office to introduce him to the people, staring with accounting, and we learn Charles used to work in accounting too.  He introduces Oscar by of course telling him of about his relationship with Gil and the terrible breakup, Angela by telling him she’s slept with two guys in the office, until Charles interrupts him and says he doesn’t need to know everyone’s sexual history, and Michael’s response is, “Perfect, because we’ve arrived at Kevin, who has no sexual history.”  “Hey!”  Kevin says, and Charles suggests that he just get introduced to everyone at once.  Michael does so, and Stanley raises his hand asks if there are going to be lay-offs.  Michael tries to say no, of course not, and Charles cuts him off, letting Stanley know that they can’t make any promises, but they will try anything in their power to avoid it, and Michael should have explained it all last week, but of course, Michael didn’t, because he didn’t want to worry people because of the economy.  Charles explains that they will be cutting 3% across the board, and all overtime requests have to be turned into the corporate office, as well as cutting back on parties, petty cash, and things of that nature.  Dwight whispers under his breath to Michael about his party, and Michael tries to wave him away, and asks everyone to applaud Charles Miner, thanking him for coming, and he has a lon drive ahead of him.  Charles says that he’ll actually be staying for the rest of the day, and he takes up residence in the conference room.  This is good, because it looks like this new boss won’t be completely lenient on all the shenanigans that go on at the Scranton branch, and since the office has gone awhile now without anything of significance occurring at this branch, something big happening could be brewing. .  Seeing Jim awkwarded out in front of a superior is always hilarious, too, because he’s normally such a goody two shoes that everyone loves that watching him not do so well expands on his character and makes for hilarious situations.

Michael gets on the phone to David and says that he wasn’t under the impression he was going to be managed, and David asks him what gave him that idea.  Michael can’t come up with an answer, and asks why Charles’s position can’t just remain vacant, as he believes he functions much better without accountability.  David believes that he and Charles are going to be a great team, and he should try to get to know him better.  So, Michael does, and he and Charles sit down the conference room to do just that.  Michael asks Charles to tell him something that he’s never told anybody before, and Charles refuses.  Michael asks him his wife’s name, and where was the last place he worked.  “Sattacoy Steel,” Charles answers, and Michael nods and smiles.  “African Americans have such a rich history of unusual names….”  Charles says no, Sattacoy Steel was where he worked, and Michael looks worried, and asks if David knows that Charles’s previous job wasn’t paper.  “Yeah, he knows, he just wants a good manager,” is Charles’s answer.  “Well, that actually is an excellent segue, which is really my only point – I don’t need to be managed,” Michael answers.  He explains how Ryan and Jan used to do things, and Charles tells him that he doesn’t plan on doing things that way anymore.  “David wants it this way,” Charles says.  Michael’s line about the rich history of African-American names was priceless, and the way he’s treating his new boss perfectly fits with his character – he doesn’t like  the idea of being watched, partially because he knows people won’t approve, and partially because he really does think he can do it better.  It’ll be interesting to see where this rivalry leads, but at least it’s already seemed to shake things up a little.

Michael calls David Wallace’s office, and when he doesn’t pick up he leaves a message with his secretary.  Dwight tells him he needs to be more persuasive, so he calls back and says that his name is Michael Scotch, and he has David Wallace’s son in the trunk of his car.  Michael hangs up the phone before he can go further and, pissed, asks Dwight what he was doing.  Michael calls back and says that he just spoke to Michael Scotch, and David’s son is being returned and he’s going to be fine, but he really needs to talk to David, so she transfers them – to Charles’s phone, as the two see when they look out the window and spy the new boss on his cell.  They hang up.  Outside, Jim’s at his desk, being watched by a very observant Charles from the conference room, so he leans over his desk to look like he’s working harder, while Dwight looks smugly on from his own desk.  Another classic Dwight moment, however brief – threatening a child’s life just to get to talk to his father, and Michael cutting him off by hanging up the phone. So far, so good – this episode is funny and incisively awkward, exactly the way The Office should be.

Around midday some people come into the office carrying a bunch of food, and Charles lets them all know that lunch is on him, and Michael’s pissed, saying he should have let them known sooner, and not on the day that he brought breakfast in.  Everyone in the office thanks him, and Michael’s still sour, accusing Charles of being “hypo-critical”, telling him to spend less money on parties while he dumps all this money on lunch.  Charles tells him he does this with every branch, and he doesn’t like it, he can eat the leftover bagels from this morning.  Michael calls again, and still can’t get a hold of David.  In the conference room, everyone eats their food, the girls eyeing Charles hungrily, while Kelly asks Angela if she should seduce him, but obviously Angela doesn’t think it’s the best of ideas.  Meanwhile, Kevin’s made a mistake, using 2008 calendars instead of 2009 ones for January and February, and he should probably come in this weekend to fix it.  “Overtime?”  Michael asks.  Oh boy, we can tell where he’s going with this.  “I applaud your initiative,” he congratulates Kevin.  “Yes, you may.”  Charles cuts him off, and says that he needs to fix it during regular office hours.  Kevin nods and is about to walk off, but Michael then fires back that this is his office and he approves.  “That’s not the way it’s gonna work,” Charles says, and after Michael refuses a couple times he just repeats verbadim what Charles says, who asks Michael how old he is, while Pam looks off from the side and says, “Oh no,” under her breath.  Her talking head explains to the camera that she can tell what mood Michael’s in depending on what comedy routine he chooses to do; the more infantile, the more upset he is.  The entire office starts telling Michael to stop, as Charles continues to talk and get copied by Michael.  He looks at his watch and says he’s gonna walk away, and then Michael just yells at everyone that he’s kidding around, and asks them why they’re so touchy.  He tells the PPC to meet in the conference room to continue their morning meeting, so they do exactly that.  As this episode goes along it’s proving to be one of the funniest this season as well as one where the most stuff happens. Hopefully Charles will stick around for awhile.  Pam’s side story about Michael’s moods being connected to different comedy routines was classic Michael/Pam trivia.

Wassup my PPC?
Charles asks Phyllis what the PPC is, and she explains that it’s the party-planning committee, and they spend hours planning parties.  Charles goes into the conference room to interrupt them and tell them that it’s not a good way to spend company time.  Michael tries to tell him that it’s none of his concern – if they didn’t spend the time party-planning, how could they come up with awesome ideas, like Jim’s.  Jim tries to weasel his way back into the office to work, but Charles comes behind him and reads his notebook.  “What is a two-way petting zoo?”  “You pet the animals, you pet them back,” Jim says, staring dead ahead at nothing, practically whispering.   Michael says that they need this committee to plan his party.  Charles quickly tells them all to leave except Michael, and tells him that they’re dissolving the committee, but Michael is quick to point out that he’s been here 15 years, and Charles has been here one day, so he has no right to cancel his anniversary.  Charles says that he’s sorry if he hurt his feelings or if he disagrees with him, but this is over. Michael tells him he’s going to go to New York to talk to David, and he’s sorry, but Charles is screwed.  He grabs his coat and is heading out, before he turns around and apologizes to Charles.  He starts talking about how making steel is nothing like making paper.  “You put paper into a furnace, you….ruin it!”  Michael says, on the verge of tears.  He walks out and angrily pushes a chair aside.  Predictably, the episode continues to escalate and we see Michael having another one of his temper tantrums, which, with Lecture Circuit, and Golden Ticket he’s seemingly been having a lot lately, and David has witnessed one of them first hand.  With all this going on, and Charles in direct contact with Wallace, it’s difficult to believe he’s going to put up with much more from Michael, so how this episode ends is key to its success.

Assistant Regional Manager
Jim walks into the office to introduce himself to Charles, saying he thinks they really got off on the wrong foot, and he’s actually a really smart guy, and a great number two.  Charles asks what exactly that means, and Jim explains that it used to be a made-up position for Dwight, Assistant to the Regional Manager, before it was changed and given to him, as Assistant Regional Manager.  When Charles asks him what duties come with the position, Jim hems and haws for a couple of seconds.  “Not….exactly.”  “Do you wanna keep this made up position?  Is it important to you?”  Charles demands.  Jim gives a look to the camera, crashing and burning.  He tells Charles he’s just going to let him get back to his work, and, an awkward turtle, he bumbles out the door.  This is excellent writing, and we’ve probably never seem Jim so white-faced and speechless in front of a superior.

Boss Talk
David Wallace comes out of the men’s room to find Michael standing right there, waiting, practically nose-to-nose with him.  “So is this the meeting you’ve been in all day?”  Michael asks, pointing at the door.  David asks how he got there, and Michael says he drove.  They move into the office, and Michael continues the barrage, reciting how he made him cancel his 15th anniversary party, asking him if he talked to him about this.  “I don’t get it.  It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Michael says.  He says he’s been at this company fifteen years, he’s sacrificed a lot, which David agrees with, and he’s put a family on hold, which David confusedly says they didn’t ask him to do. “Okay, nice meeting everyone,” Charles says, putting on his jacket and heading out.  “See you in a couple weeks.”  Angela walks right up to him and says it was nice meeting him, while Jim calls out “see ya” a couple times, which Charles completely ignores.  He finishes off with a “Bye!” and in a talking head he says “And for my next trick, I will make my career…disappear!”  In the break room, Kelly stares at herself in her pocket mirror, saying how they’re going to go buy a dress together.  When Phyllis informs her that he already left, Kelly rushes out into the rain to search for him, seeing Angela at the opposite end of the parking lot holding his scarf.  “He is a sophisticated man, he does not need to go dumpster diving for a relationship,” Angela confides in a talking head.  Back in New York, Michael is still ranting to David about how it doesn’t seem fair that he should have to drive to get into contact with him.  “And I think….that I’ve earned more than that,” he finishes.  David agrees, and says that they’ll try to move money around so he can have his party, and he’ll even come to the party himself.  Michael is overjoyed, and reaches across the desk to clasp David’s hand.  “I quit,” he says.  David in taken aback.  “Michael…I don’t….”  Michael gets up and goes to the door.  “You have no idea how high I can fly,” he says, and the episode ends.  Oh snizzap.

Well, the big change came, but not in the form we were expecting.  The entire episode was building up to this new guy Charles firing Michael, and Michael’s behavior over the past few episodes was certainly fodder for the fire.  When David Wallace told him everything was going to be fine, it looked like we’d slip right back into the usual office antics where Michael could do anything he wanted and still have a kind of safety net.  Now, though, with Michael Scott quitting Dunder-Mifflin, it’s turned the tables on everybody, and was quite a clever move on the writers part.  The only thing that remains to be seen is what exactly will happen – if it turns out just to be a ratings ploy, it will be a huge disappointment, but if not, how can you have an office with Steve Carell as the boss?  And was the episode making a big deal about Jim because he might replace Michael Scott?  Whatever the answer, we haven’t had a shakeup like this in the office for at least a full season, and we are far overdue.  Maybe Dunder-Mifflin will offer him larger pay to try and get him to stay, but as we saw Michael sitting there in David’s office realizing all that he hasn’t done with his life, just because he’s been working, it’s doubtful that he’ll stay for any amount of money.  In any case, the episode had many highlights, not the least of which was the girlish squealing over Charles – though the whole vignette was maybe five minutes long, it was a good break from the main story and entertaining enough to be worth it; though how exactly Angela got that scarf makes me wonder.  All in all, this week’s office has given the serious jolt the series needs; only thing we need to wait and do is see if that jolt is legitimate. 

-Thomas Anderson
aka MovieBuzzReviewDude. Check out his movie/media/pop culture blog here.

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