Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)

Hey, Mr. Scott, what you gonna do? Whatchu gonna do? Make our dreams come true? Er, not quite. Scott’s Tots — the graduating high school seniors Michael had apparently promised to put through college — were understandably disappointed to discover that Michael had written a check he couldn’t cash. More specifically, a vow his bank account couldn’t cash. Bahahaha. Wait…wha?

“Scott’s Tots” raised two important issues that I hope The Office has the balls to confront: What universe is it that this show exists in? And what are we supposed to hope happens for Jim and Pam Halpert?

The Office wanted (wants?) to have it both ways — to be the most recession-cognizant show on TV and to be a traditional comedy, completely detached from credible human existence. Can Dunder-Mifflin be hilarious based on both “omg, too true” and abject nonsense? Not on this episode, at least.

I like when Michael’s schemes accidentally undermine David Wallace. Or Dwight. Or Jim. Or any of our DMHQ pals. But the show’s intense realism is completely obliterated when the shtick of an episode revolves around something as socially abhorrent as promising to pay for a class’s college education and then backing out. One of The Office‘s strengths, part of the reason so many of us embrace it, is the icky sensation we get thinking, “this is so my life.” I never got that feeling tonight, even with Jim’s Dwight-orchestrated employee-of-the-month scheme.

We’ve seen Michael through some pretty turbulent times, but he rarely harmed anyone but himself or loosely complicit by-standers; tonight’s episode robbed us of whatever last shred of compelling humanity Michael may have had left.

The misbegotten employee-of-the-month construct emphasized just how bleak Jim and Pam’s prospects are at D-M. Once upon a time, these two were brought together by a common workplace; now that they’re so, so together, how much do we want them to stay there?

Other observations:

++ Stanley’s uproarious laughter was golden, as are any Stanley moments when he gets the spotlight

++ Dwight and Andy are such perfect foils for each other I worry if their combined dorkitude will form a black hole or something

++ Dwight’s impersonations of his coworkers — namely Kevin — were so good I wonder if Rainn Wilson had these at the ready beforehand

What’d you think of “Scott’s Tots,” PopWatchers?

Episode Recaps

Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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