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December 22, 2014

The Office: Business Ethics

by Jay Black, posted Oct 10th 2008 1:00AM
Oh, I get it, it's ironic because he's NOT the world's best boss!(S05E02) Before we start tonight's review, I'd like to take a moment to worship at the Sling Media altar. Yet again, the makers of the Slingbox have made it possible for me to review The Office in a timely fashion despite the fact that I'm currently doing a week of shows in Las Vegas (where The Office airs three hours later than I'm used to and, for marketing purposes, has magician Lance Burton digitally inserted into every scene). If you're a traveler and a TV watcher and you haven't bought a Slingbox yet, you're missing out.

Part of me worried about the ethics of opening with what amounts to be a commercial for Slingbox (and also for my fabulous Las Vegas comedy show at the Tropicana: tickets still available for the weekend!) Then I realized that by doing so, I actually provided a pretty good segue into the theme of tonight's episode. So let's get to it...

In light of Ryan's felonious corporate shenanigans last year, the folks at Dunder-Mifflin are forced to go through an ethics seminar with the hope, I suppose, of preventing future YouTube-able arrests on company property. It's nice to see that Dunder-Mifflin reacts with the same speed and decisiveness as real-world corporations: Ryan's violations were several months ago and he's been subsequently rehired to work for the company. Having that seminar now is like saying "Oh, hey, maybe we should shut the barn door, huh?" after the ethical horse has already left the barn, the barn has burned down, and a group of shady developers have built a mini-mall where the barn used to be.

This is Holly's first ever meeting and she's determined to just get through the big white boring corporate binder. Michael, of course, is worried that she's "losing the audience." After getting used to his meetings, he figures the crew expects a mix of Robin Williams and M. Night Shyamalan (which, judging by their last few movies, is just about right). He edges in and declares "immunity" where everyone can share their ethical violations without fear of reprisal.

Among the things we learn:

Michael has viewed Cookie Monster singing "Chocolate Rain" on YouTube over a thousand times. (On an unrelated side-note, it was recently brought to my attention that Cookie Monster also eats vegetables now as a way to teach kids about good dieting techniques. Is this true? And, if so, did George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have anything to do with it?)

Kelly downloads pirated music onto her work computer.

And... Meredith has been exchanging sex with a paper supplier for the last six years in exchange for discounted rates and steak coupons.

(I guess the big question about what was wrong with Meredith's face two weeks ago might have been STD related).

Michael wants to sweep the whole thing under the rug -- the office is a family, you see -- but Holly feels compelled to report it to corporate. Apparently, there's no really good spin you can put on prostitution, so reporting it means Meredith is all but sure to be fired.

This leads to our first real tension between Michael and Holly. Amy Ryan steals the show here with some superb acting -- I mean, I didn't think anyone could outdo Steve Carell when it came to being a wide-eyed innocent brushing up against real-world pain, but wowsa, Amy Ryan nailed it. If you have the episode on TiVo, go back and check out the range of emotions Holly manages to express when Michael is ignoring her. It's a virtuoso piece of work that still manages to be funny.

In a twist, it turns out that corporate wants to look the other way. Holly didn't seem to understand that the ethics seminar wasn't really about ethics so much as it was about getting signatures giving lip service to ethics. Besides, Meredith's whoring saves the company some money, which is important in today's tough economic conditions.

I just have to say this: I find it completely unbelievable that a corporation would act like that! I've criticized The Office in the past for stretching the truth, but my God, this is ridiculous! In no way would a company ever act out of greed like that! It's just...

I'm sorry, of course that last paragraph was just a joke. I thought corporate's reaction was dead on. The only way it could have been more realistic is if they all got to take a $440,000 spa vacation at the St. Regis resort.

We end on a sweet note, with Michael corralling the unwilling employees into the conference room so that Holly can give them the ethics seminar they were supposed to get.

In honor of the NLCS game that I'm being forced to miss in order to write this review, let's rate tonight's episode a stand-up triple. We're off to a great start this year and it bodes well for the future that we can still have a very strong episode without any Jim/Pam drama.

Other stuff:

-- Unfortunately I don't have as much space as I'd like to devote to the B story this week. Jim's timing Dwight whenever he stopped working (even to yawn) led to one of my longest sustained laughing streaks at any single Office gag: Jim discussing Battlestar Galactica with Andy and screwing up all the details to annoy Dwight. "Pretty much a shot for shot remake of the original Battlestar." Just hilarious.

-- The cold open was great too, with the office responding predictably to the news that Jim and Pam are engaged. "Weren't you already engaged?" "No, that was Roy." "Do I have to buy you a gift?" "You know she's not a virgin."

-- No scenes with Pam at Pratt. I bring this up only so that I can take this opportunity to apologize for missing in my last review that Pam's new friend at college (and, we all hope to Jeebus not, potential love-triangle point) is none other than Rich Sommer from Mad Men. I think approximately nine million people pointed this out to me in the comments. If I told you the reason why I didn't recognize him -- ahemidontwatchmadmenahem -- it might lead to more criticism, so let's just move on.

-- So, now we know exactly how long it takes for Dwight and Angela to, um, finish. All I have to say is good for you Dwight. Good. For. You.

-- Unrelated to tonight's episode, but worth checking out is this Esquire article telling us "Ten Things You Didn't Know about Women" by Mindy Kaling. If you don't have a crush on Kelly already, this article will put you over the top.

As always, Miffheads, correct all my moral failings in the comments!

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Daniel

I recently started using http://parkmytv.com to host my slingbox giving me MUCH better video quality since they dedicate outbound bandwidth (better than my home dsl) to me plus I no longer annoy my wife by changing channels on her mid-stream when I'm traveling :) I got in to an early trial I think they are still accepting sign-ups...

October 12 2008 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Daniel's comment
Robert

How do you contact parkmytv.com The site has no info.I would like to see what I am getting before paying. Has any one made contact with them.

October 25 2008 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan Buckley

Michael
"Who got engaged"

Creed
"The tall guy"

October 10 2008 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cdawg

i'm the only one here who didn't love it. (with the exception of the BSG scene)

I think I just want Jim to yell at Andy for stealing his perfect proposal already!

October 10 2008 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
adub

If you watch the deleted scenes from last weeks episode, Meredith claimed she went fishing with some guys and wasnt sure if she caught anything(I think she meant std's and not fish) and her face was simply sunburnt. Oh and she says kids kept calling her Hellboy, lol.

October 10 2008 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonathan

Did no one else catch the continuity gaffe with the Meredith plot? Michael Scott negotiated with the Hammermill rep in S3 to start selling Hammermill products in "the convention". How has Meredith been sleeping with the Hammermill rep for 6 years to get the discount? Maybe it started out as just being for coupons...

October 10 2008 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ac

Jay you don't watch Mad Men?! YOU DON"T WATCH MAD MEN!!?? HOW DARE
YOU.... Oh wait I dont watch it either.

I think I need to rewatch this episode again I missed a few bits
switching to CSI during the breaks. I like Holly much more than
Toby. I hope they leave him in South America for the rest of the
show.

October 10 2008 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Justin McGuirk

"How do you tell somebody you care about deeply... 'I told you so'?... gently, with a rose?... in a funny way, like it's a hilarious joke?... or do you just let it go? ... because saying it would just make things worse...... probably the funny way."

Best Michael Scott line ever.

October 10 2008 at 9:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kel

"Dumbledore Calrissian has to return the ring back to Mordor"
"That doesn't sound right".

Agreed, one of the all time funniest scenes from The Office.

October 10 2008 at 8:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bdure

Cookie Monster's vegetable phase was brief and overblown. He basically ate veggies in one episode. You'll have to trust me on this.

I can't believe I enjoyed an Office episode that much with no on-screen Pam appearances.

October 10 2008 at 7:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

Andy has been hilarious this season...his comments in the ethics meeting killed. "Hey-yo!"

October 10 2008 at 7:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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