Will Ferrell makes his debut as Dunder Mifflin's new boss. How'd he do?
“Deangelo is great. I love the guy. But I’m not sure he’s a great fit for the office. And I’m not sure I love the guy.” Michael Scott, you took the words right out of my mouth.
Will Ferrell’s debut as Deangelo Vickers, the probably-temporary new manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, was a mixed bag. Some of his scenes, like an amazing cold open in which Ferrell and Carell played beautifully off of one another, were comic gold; others, like when Deangelo sharply ordered Jim and Pam to stop talking about their baby, were less effective. It’s tough to figure out what sort of guy Deangelo is — I feel a little bit like The Office‘s writers elected to give the character a few goofy personality quirks (likes the American Southwest, has a peanut allergy which is “a part of [him]”) instead of a fully-formed personality. This isn’t too worrisome, since he’s had fewer than 22 minutes of screen time total so far; hopefully he’ll get a little more rounded out as his four-episode arc continues.
What’s more troubling is the fact that Deangelo’s plotline is already starting to give me deja vu. Remember Season 5, when The Office introduced Charles Miner? Charles was a new authority figure who was immediately pronounced “cool” by the denizens of Dunder Mifflin — everyone, of course, except for Michael, who immediately resented him. Gradually, though, Charles revealed himself to be a class-A jerk, and the Dunderites turned on him. Sound familiar? Like Charles, Deangelo instantly makes a big impression on his employees; Ryan thinks he’s a badass, Kevin wants to impress him, Oscar feels like he can speak candidly to him. Kelly even reacts to both men the exact same way, though maybe that’s just Kelly being Kelly. Then Deangelo snaps at Jim and Pam and constantly prods Andy to perform for him, indicating that he might not be such a nice guy after all — again, just like Charles.
Generally speaking, Steve Carell’s imminent departure seems to have had a rejuvenating effect on The Office. The show hasn’t felt this fresh or been this consistently funny in years. But if Will Ferrell’s character ends up being an ass who leaves Scranton in shame because nobody at Dunder Mifflin liked him, the writers will have taken the easy, predictable way out by treading a path they’ve trod before.
Then again, I’m probably getting ahead of myself; besides those few aforementioned wrinkles, “Training Day” was a solid, laugh-filled half hour. Though it was easy to see where this episode would go — of course Michael would instantly grow jealous of his replacement, and of course he’d have difficulty letting go of the idea of being boss — Scott’s storyline was executed incredibly well. I’m also glad we got to see more of Erin this week, since she’s been largely MIA since “PDA.” Here’s hoping the show somehow finds another reason to make her shave a man in the very near future. Andy, too, was particularly funny tonight; Ed Helms should get an Emmy nomination for that scene in the kitchen alone. (Did anyone else think “Oh gosh, I hope his scrotum is okay this time!” after he poured the coffee on himself, then reflected for awhile about how weird a thing that is to think?)
NEXT: “I guess this is my life now.” But that, of course, wasn’t the episode’s only highlight. Here are the other moments that made me break into a goofy grin:
– The cold open! I could watch that scene over and over again. Michael ordering a Kahlua sombrero, Deangelo wistfully recalling the time he tried to found an animal Olympics (“What happened?” “Life happened”), that gloriously drawn-out, Sideshow-Bob-stepping-on-rakes-esque phone call — it was all perfect. If only Deangelo stayed the subdued but goofy guy we met in this scene, instead of the sorta mean-spirited man he becomes later in the episode.
– You know that ish is going down when Kevin puts on his wedding toupee. “Nope, it’s not Ashton Kutcher — it’s Kevin Malone!”
– This quote could be the perfect encapsulation of Michael Scott: “One of my favorite things is fanfare for its own sake. So, without further ado, let’s all start clapping!”
– Dwight realizing that Michael isn’t as devoted to him as he is to Michael also felt a little stale, though the moment when Dwight stepped into Deangelo’s meeting — “Correction: just you” — definitely did tug on my heartstrings. Ice cold, Schrute.
– I wonder if the well-choreographed meet cute has ever actually worked out for Kelly.
– Dwight tricks Michael into talking in the stairwell by telling him there’s a turtle in there. Alas, there’s no reptile to be found, which prompts Michael to complain, “Now I’m gonna have to go online and look at turtles or I’ll be off the whole day!” Mr. Scott, might I suggest you take a look at this one, or maybe this guy right here?
– Michael says twice tonight that he’s leaving the company after 19 years. Three years ago, though, he was celebrating his 15th anniversary of working for Dunder Mifflin. Continuity error?
– Darryl, fretting that he just made an idiot of himself in front of the new boss: “It’s one of my favorite regions. ‘One of my favorite regions?’ Did I just sound totally lame? No. It sounded good.”
– Technically, a ten-gallon hat only holds about three quarts.
– Andy, post-desperate kitchen slapstick performance: “I guess this is my life now.”
– A sentence from Deangelo that would make Ron Burgundy proud: “If you want to go whale-watching on the east coast, you might want to bring along a magazine called West Coast Whales.”
– “What is the native American girl’s name?”
– Even though I didn’t get why Deangelo suddenly got so mean about Cece, I did love this quip: “I’m telling you, that baby could be the star of a show called Babies I Don’t Care About.” The man is good at coming up with fake titles for things.
– You know you got a little misty when Ferrell told Carell, “It is too bad for this place that you’re leaving.” A little meta, but the moment worked.
How did you feel about Will Ferrell’s performance tonight? Do you think Deangelo might turn out to be Charles Miner 2: The Minening, or do you think his arc will surprise us? And what do you think it’ll take to get Michael and the new guy to sing “Afternoon Delight” together in perfect harmony?
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