Review: ‘The Office’ – ‘Moving On’

A review of last night’s “The Office” coming up just as soon as I hose you down…

That’s two largely unpleasant episodes in a row since Andy returned. And what was strange about “Moving On” was the way it presented us both Andy as a far more malevolent version of Michael Scott at the same time it was giving us Bob Odenkirk as a much more accurate approximation of the real thing.(*) Until now, it’s felt as if Andy was being written as Michael Scott by people who have forgotten how to write for Michael Scott, but the Odenkirk scenes were a pretty spot-on recreation of the early years.

(*) Was Odenkirk ever considered to play Michael, or was it Steve Carell all the way? I don’t remember much about the development of the show, but in 2004-05, Carell would have had a higher recent profile thanks to “The Daily Show.” 

Michael Scott could be a genuinely hurtful character, but the episodes where he was (the pilot, “Scott’s Tots”) tend to be among my least favorite of the Carell era. Yet other than his irrational hatred of Toby, his worst behavior tended to come from a naive place – he thinks he and Pam are going to laugh and laugh about the fake firing, and he thinks he’s going to become successful enough to put all these kids through college – where Andy was just being petty and mean. There’s nothing funny in his self-justifying behavior, and I was very disappointed that the episode didn’t open with David firing him. But we have to be heading that way, right? I can’t imagine sustaining this for the remainder of the season.

That said, I did enjoy Pam’s time in Philly, whether it was her reaction to being in Odenkirk’s presence, or the romantic dinner gone awry at the Athlead offices. Again, tension in the Halpert/Beasley marriage is fine, but much more interesting when it comes from within like this – with Pam finally articulating the real reason she’s not happy with this plan – than when it’s via last-minute outside obstacles.

And I was, of course, intrigued by the very last frame of the episode, when Oscar’s computer screen presents an ad for “The Office: An American Workplace” (which was originally going to be the title of this show, to differentiate it from the Gervais/Merchant version, and which I believe has been used in some international markets), debuting in May. I’m far more interested in seeing the documentary actually air, and in seeing the characters’ reactions to it, than I am in the idea that the boom mic guy has a crush on Pam.

But if Andy continues to dominate the action and crush all the goodwill generated earlier in the season, it’s going to be a very, very long wait to get to May.

What did everybody else think?