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RECAP: The Office ‘Training Day’

April 15, 2011
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This may be a tough one to summarize because it’s not so much a plot-oriented installment, but more a series of skits featuring Will Ferrell interacting with everyone else around the office—Andy, Jim & Pam, Erin, Kevin, and, naturally Michael. That’s pretty much the recap right there.

But that won’t suffice, so here’s some more details: Ferrell, whose guest appearance for a few episodes has been in The Office news for what seems like the past three seasons, plays Deangelo Vickers (which sounds like a name Ferrell chose for himself), the guy brought in to replace Michael. After a surprisingly long cold open in which he ingratiates himself to Michael, Deangelo hits it off with the rest of the office, talking kids with Jim & Pam, immediately spotting/assigning the role of office clown to Andy, and earning the respect and admiration of the rest of the gang (especially Kelly, who orchestrates her own “meet cute” to nab his attention). For those of you who’ve seen the original BBC Office, this is the long-awaited arrival of the “Neil” character, someone I never thought they’d get to—particularly seven seasons in.

And, like Neil, Deangelo is great with first impressions but turns out to be a shallow, humorless jerk. Dwight hates him right from the start, but only because he wants to be the office jerk…as well as Michael’s replacement. And Michael, like David Brent, can’t cope with how well Deangelo gets on, both professionally and, much more importantly, personally. In a rare moment of introspection, Michael begins a confessional by stating his love for Deangelo, but a sentence later immediately questions it, and what semblance there is of an A plot builds on Michael’s growing resentment, from Deangelo’s (I’m just seeing how often I can mention that name in this recap) tacky office decorum, to his odd choice of ordering an in-office shave, to his peanut “allergy.”

Like I wrote, it’s mainly skits, but there’s some really, really good skits: Deangelo’s reprimand of Erin for including her name when she answers the phone (which leaves her so flustered that she can’t); Andy trying to live up to his title by dutifully drinking soap; Kevin catching a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in his mouth; Andy begging Darryl for a “Black people do this” joke; Erin shaving Michael; even a nicely awkward dialogue between Dwight and Gabe. This episode has a lot of great lines and a lot of first-rate laughs that, somewhat oddly, don’t come from Ferrell so much as everyone else’s reaction to him. But character-based comedy is what made The Office a great show, and it’s a pleasure to see them get back to their roots. This one is rife with classic quotes:

Darryl: Yes, tell me: “What do black people call…?”
Andy: I have no idea, can you help me?

Erin: Dunder Mifflin…[pause]…I’m so sorry [hangs up].

Michael: I don’t want to end up like Sonny Bobo.

And bonus points for Erin’s adorability and Kelly’s sexiness.

 

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