A field trip to Gettysburg doesn’t inspire anyone

By Erin Strecker
November 18, 2011 at 07:13 AM EST
NBC
type
  • TV Show
Genre

A trip or change of scenery can inspire brand-new life-changing adventures. Or, at the very least, it’s a way to kill a workday.

I hoped you recently brushed up on your Civil War history, because last night Andy felt morale was low, and also, he wanted to be an inspiring leader. Solution? Field trip to Gettysburg (home of the northern-most battle of the Civil War), conveniently located in good ol’ PA, same as Dunder Mifflin. He rented a bus (much like Michael did in “Beach Games”) and they were off to see some history — complete with matching neon pink hats that read: “DM does GB,” which Jim was pretty sure meant something sexual. Oh, and Andy brought free low-sugar lunches!

The bus trip to Gettysburg was pretty funny. Andy wanted to talk strategy — “a little foreplay before we do it” — but Darryl had a Limitless DVD, which everyone was much more enthusiastic about. (A joke that made me laugh way more than it should. Excellent timing, Office scribes: How did you know Bradley Cooper would be named People’s Sexiest Man Alive this week?)

Once they arrived at the Gettysburg site, Andy shunned the traditional tour for his own backwoods version, which allowed Dwight plenty of time to try and sell Erin on the fact that Schrute Farms was actually the home to the Northern-most battle of the Civil War — not Gettysburg. “It makes the battle of Gettysburg sound like a bunch of school girls wrestling over a hair brush,” he explained. Oscar, backed by history books, came along and tried to give Erin some more accurate information about actual Civil War battles. Commenter discussion: Erin: Charmingly naïve or disturbingly dumb?

Naturally, the gang on the trip (Jim, Darryl, Phyllis, Erin, Dwight, Oscar) get tired of Andy’s tour, and just wanted to lie in the grass and/or go back to work. Andy got upset and stormed off — sound familiar?

My main problem with this episode was the main plot felt like a rehash of several classic episodes, all kind of stuck together. I realize this show is in its eighth season, which can sometimes feel like four score and seven years in TV time. (See what I did there?) But besides the general boss over-enthusiasm for a dumb idea, there was the local field trip element that we’d seen before in both “Beach Games,” “Booze Cruise,” and when Michael took the ladies to the Steamtown mall for some girl talk. Dwight once again wanted to out-history someone, like he did when stripper Ben Franklin came by the office. Obviously, some plot elements are going to be recurring — especially hit jokes — but for this plot, the laughs weren’t big enough for me to overlook the recycling.

The episode did end funnier than it began, with a great revelation.  We learned Dwight wasn’t entirely wrong about The Battle at Schrute Farms. He just wasn’t accurate about the battle part. Turns out, Schrute farms (helped along by the Schrutes) was an artistic community full of “peaceful delicate, lovely men” that was a refuge from all the fighting. Oscar was fascinated, but upon learning that the Schrutes were not always the warriors Dwight had envisioned, Dwight stormed out of the room, his trip, and possibly year, ruined.

NEXT: Robert California stops by, plus Gabe as Abe Lincoln

The subplots were the real highlight tonight. The cold opening was wonderful, with a montage of Pam saying, “I’m going into labor” to get out of conversations or tasks she didn’t want to have/do.  My favorite thing she was trying to get out of was Ryan’s “Okay. Three reasons you’re wrong about True Blood. Number 1…” I would have liked to have stuck around for that conversation. (Side note: Alexander Skaarsgard. Only argument you need.)  Unfortunately, her co-workers were wising up to her and Jim’s ruse, so to get out of a boring meeting, she upped the ante and made them believe her water broke on the way out the door. She would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling water bottle.

Freakishly tall Gabe, in his continued quest to Bring It every week, was also my favorite character again tonight, when he was mistaken for an Abe Lincoln reeanctor. A one-joke premise was happily extended throughout the episode, with Gabe giving a full performance to a growing audience with rapt attention — leading to the awesome closer for tonight, where Gabe-as-Lincoln had an argument with his wife, Mary, which led him to say an over exaggerated voice, “I need her like I need a hole in the head. (mimes gun to head).” Cue the standing ovation — and not just from me.

Meanwhile, back at the office, Robert California showed up unannounced, and with half the staff gone, he praised those who were there (Pam, Kevin, Kelly, Ryan, Angela and Meredith) as out-of-the-box thinkers. He wanted some Game Changer ideas from his most creative employees, so after we saw Kevin work a stapler/marker combo, there was a conference room meeting.

The Game Changing ideas? Not so great. Ryan proposed Raw Fish: “Sushi. It’s what’s for dinner,” as well as origami (complete with props!). Someone is clearly still quite influenced by his “trip to Thailand.” Pam couldn’t even get through her idea without realizing it was dumb — not that she cared. “At this point, when you’re this pregnant, it’s kind of like senior spring. The other day I spit my gum out on the carpet.”

Stanley presented Papyr: Paper for Women. Stanley explained the paper as, “it’s pink, scented and silky soft.” I think Stanley is getting a little too much business advice from Elle Woods. Robert didn’t get the concept: “The situation you described, going home to a wife complaining that the paper is too masculine, is not one I’m familiar with.” Stanley tried a follow-up: “In the African-American community…” “No.” All of these ideas, of course, were just an appetizer to Kevin’s wonderful main course.

Have you ever noticed how vending machines place cookies in A1, leaving less than desirable treats in the prime eye location: D4? Kevin has. I totally have too, and I don’t care what that says about my relationship with snack foods. Anyway, Kevin thought Dunder Mifflin should put the prized treats in the best location — a “metaphor” Robert latched onto, interpreting it as putting the best products in front of the best clients.

With that idea, Kevin became the sparkle in Robert’s eye, a fact that upset Ryan to no end. “We are now on a planet where Kevin is the most creative guy around, and I am just some good-looking guy.” Sometimes even that’s not true, Ryan. The dream team of Robert and Kevin couldn’t last forever, though, and Kevin took it one step too far during a lunch with Robert, when he explained his new Big Mac idea: If you order a Big Mac everyday, and each day remove one ingredient, at the end of the week you’ll be able to have another Big Mac FOR FREE that you made yourself.

This week, instead of Robert California teaching all of us a dark truth, he learned one himself. With a look of horror and disgust at the Big Mac idea, Robert realized, “Oh dear, it was actually just cookies the whole time.” I think Robert learned an important lesson about overestimating people — always a danger at Dunder Mifflin.

NEXT: Top lines!

Top lines:

++ “The Civil War history industry has conveniently forgotten about the battle of Schrute farms…it’s just grossly irresponsible.” –Dwight

++ “Guess I’m a sucker for historical FICTION.” –Dwight, agreeing to go on the trip while getting in a dig

++ “Never trust a cookie with a women’s name…they’ll just break your heart.” –Kevin

++ “Some people call me the emancipator, but you might know me from the penny.” –Gabe-as-Lincoln

++ “I apologize for my friend, and the Republicans who are cutting your funding. “ –Oscar

++ “Tell us some real history, Gore Vidal.” –Oscar

++ “You are filling her head with nonsense — you and the history books!” –Dwight

++ “You’ve got your sheep and you’ve got your black sheep. I’m not even a sheep.” –Ryan

++ “Another thing about oatmeal cookies…who even wants them?” –Kevin, preaching the truth

What did you guys think of tonight? Recycled jokes missing some laughs, or were Kevin’s Game Changing ideas cracking you up?

Jim, Pam, Michael, Dwight and the rest of the Dunder-Mifflin employees hold down the Scranton branch
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 9
Genre
Premiere
  • 03/24/05-05/16/13
Performers
  • Steve Carell,
  • John Krasinski,
  • Jenna Fischer,
  • Rainn Wilson
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