The Office: Season 4, Episode 5

A tv post by matt, posted on October 25, 2007 at 11:16 pm



Spoilers for “Local Ad” below.

Things that happened

An episode where the A-plot can, perhaps, be described in a single paragraph! What an amazing and nice change!

Ryan’s convinced corporate to spend money on an advertising agency to create local TV spots promoting Dunder-Mifflin Infinity. Michael takes this to mean he’ll get to inject his own unique creative vision into the whole ordeal but, in reality: no. The ad geeks — who look very convincingly like all the real people I know who do ‘creative’ work! — are just going to run the same 25-second spot for all the D-M offices and then attach a five-second clip of the office staff waving at the end. This throws Michael into a rage, so much so that he decides to put up his own money to direct his own commercial and then let corporate decide which to use. Michael’s video is like that “Think Different” Apple ad from the late 90s except starring his own officemates and with even more melodrama and sappiness and confusingly mixed messages. It’s actually quite brilliant. Of course, corporate opts not to use it, but Michael and the gang still gather at Poor Richards to watch the results and it’s actually very sweet and honest and, gosh darnit, isn’t it so refreshing that these are characters that actually like each other?

In our subplot worlds: Dwight’s still in despair and playing Second Life because of it. Because only terminally depressed people play Second Life. That kind of sounds sarcastic but it’s totally not. Andy’s making all kinds of moves on Angela, which seem to be paying off in the form of mostly one-sided make-out sessions, but Dwight’s given some hope when he learns Angela’s been getting into the mood by whispering “Oh, D!” And, in the romance across the room, the viewer is asked to consider the question “Just how well do Jim and Pam really know each other?”

Oh, and Darryl sings. Darryl sings a song about Dunder-Mifflin on his keyboard. He sings.

Things that were good

  • Michael’s video. It perhaps wasn’t quite as good as the video Michael prepared for his corporate presentation in the New York episode (the production values were just high enough that it didn’t feel believable) but there were still some great character moments. Also, and this might sound a little weird, but in recent years I’ve totally come to respect things that are funny that aren’t about making fun of someone (or something) and/or making references to sex or pooping. Maybe it’s just because those kinds of gags are so rare. In any case, “You have a son and it’s me” was my favourite part.
  • Darryl’s song. “Dunder-Mifflin: People, Persons, Paper, People” is, in actuality, awesome.
  • Lots and lots of little things. Michael referring to Phyllis as a “Less Urban Aunt Jemima”, for example. This is the first episode this season that I’m actually really eager to watch again because I feel like there might have been jokes and funny asides that I missed the first time. That’s such a good sign.
  • The actual Dunder-Mifflin commercial they aired was, in fact, a really nice send-up of the kind of cliché “outside-the-box” advertisements agencies are putting out these days.

Things that were bad

  • The “Kit Kat Bar” thing with Andy never quite clicked with me. Maybe because I remember vividly that that was a Kit Kat commercial and I find it hard to relate to anyone who would forget that? I kind of have a freakish memory for old commercials. Like, I lay awake at night thinking about the “Bumble Ball” commercial sometimes, for example. Because it was just such a weird product. With a great jingle!
  • Continuity. Michael finances his own commercial and buys everyone a round of drinks a week after declaring bankruptcy?
  • They really could have done a lot more with Dwight’s Second Life addiction. I hope that isn’t the last we see of it.

Worth Watching If…

What a great, down-to-earth episode. I wrote last week that the best thing for the show right now would be for the writers to just stop trying so damn hard, and just let the characters interact naturally with one another. They did that this episode — it had an effortless quality that the show should always have. They really just need to stay in the office.

Obviously, being half the length of the past four episodes was a big help. Things were paced far better than they have been, even with the sort of odd (and unprecedented?) “Ten Days Later” title card in the last act. They were able to focus on a good A-plot, while still moving forward their big B-plot (The Dwight & Angela & Andy thing) while also adding some serious interest to the Jim & Pam saga that didn’t involve them doing little more than making goo-goo eyes at one another.

The worst that I can say about this one is that there’s this lingering feeling like they put this together as an inventory episode for the first part of the season, not knowing for sure where in the order of episodes it would go. I have major issues with the continuity in Michael’s character coming off of last week’s episode. It would have made far more sense if they had aired this before “Money.” But maybe I think too much about this kind of thing.

Still, good episode.

In Five Words

Dunder-Mifffflin: People. Persons. Paper. People