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August 29, 2015

Review: The Office - Murder

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 13th 2009 12:23AM
The cast of The Office
This week we had a bit of a head-scratcher. I want to like this episode because of how it pushed the corporate end of the story along, and I want to like it because it showed Michael in a bit of a different light than we expected, especially at the end. There were also a couple of laugh-out-loud moments (especially one involving Creed... but, then again, Creed is guaranteed laughs).

But overall, the episode felt tentative. The writers set up the murder mystery part of the episode to offset some of the bad news at DM, but didn't seem to go far enough.

I'm trying to put my finger on why things felt this way. Maybe the office members needed to go into character a little deeper. Maybe there needed to be more of Jim (and, by marriage, Pam) worrying that the cheese has finally slipped off Michael's Triscuit. But none of it went far enough or was funny enough to make Michael's murder mystery game distraction an effective story.

Except... It's interesting to know that this crappy economy has hit DM hard enough to know that the company might be insolvent by year's end and is close to declaring bankruptcy. It was a nice twist to see that Michael was not just pushing to continue the murder mystery game to keep his own mind off the bad news but was purposefully trying to keep his employees' minds off it, too ("Today is the hardest I have worked in a long, long time," he said at the end).

Every so often, Michael displays some people management skills, and it helps confirm to the viewers that he's demonstrated more than enough skills to keep his job for so long. And it seems like, despite Jim's visible disdain for the way Michael does things, he's actually learning a lot from his co-manager.

So the underlying story was good. It was just that the execution of the murder mystery plot was off. There were some funny moments, though:

1. Creed coming into the office while the mystery was in progress, and running back to his car after Michael tells him, "There's been a murder, and everyone's a suspect."
2. "Cool, I'll try it!" was Kevin's response when the gang was told their characters could speak slow and still not seem dumb.
3. Poor Erin and Andy; the game conspired against the two of them hooking up. It's fun to see another couple in the office who truly like each other, with the only thing standing in their way is shyness and insecurity, not a-hole fiances.
4. After Andy does his Georgia accent, Kevin asks him to do the Swedish Chef. When Andy says he doesn't know who that is, Kevin says, "He lives on Sesame Street, dumb-ass." Oh, Kevin. Even you should know the Chef was on The Muppet Show, right?
5. Oscar trying to do a southern accent and having his voice go all high-pitched and crackly.
6. Uptight, God-fearing Angela being cast as a witch doctor.
7. Jim manipulating Dwight into punching himself in the groin.
8. "Your feelings journal? You told me to put it in the time capsule."
9. Tube City.

It's odd how small of a role Pam played in this episode, though she was funny in the credit tag as she was playing the stand-off game with Dwight, Andy and Michael. Wonder if this incident may spur her to find employment elsewhere, figuring a DM demise will screw the both the Halperts and their baby-to-be.

So this one wasn't a swing and a miss. More like a foul tip. We'll see where this DM distress storyline goes.

Oh, and if you want to see what "Belles, Bourbon & Bullets" is all about, go to the Mondo Mysteries website. You can even leave some testimonials. Michael Scott already has.

[You can see clips and free episodes from our friends at SlashControl.]

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Really? I loved this episode. My favorite was Angela as Mama Joo Joo Boo Boo. And Andy explaining the differences in regional dialect. I cracked up when Oscar is forced to speak in a Southern accent and sounded hysterical. Creed is brilliant. I don't know I just liked the absurdity of it all.

I agree it is sort of a bummer that they are venturing into the reality of the outside world right now with lots of people out of work and the future of companies in question. But at the same time I can't stomach shows right now that are full of material gluttony when so many have so little right now. Case in point: Bravo's Real Housewife series, or The Hills, or even MTV's Cribs. I certainly don't want to see how the better half are living when so many are just barely scratching to get by.

January 02 2010 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Love The Office, but I didn't like this episode. In general, they go too far in making Michael an idiot and this episode is exemplary. He has to be credible or he just gets annoying. Right now he's annoying.

November 17 2009 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the reason it wasn't as good is that the writers forgot to include a sub-plot in the episode. It was all-murder all-bankruptcy all the time. It got annoying. Usually there are either 2 self-sufficient stories in an episode or a dominant one and a comic relief sort of one.

November 13 2009 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do prefer when they stay in the office but this was perhaps the worst episode in a long long time. It was amateur hour. Did they borrow writers from How I Met Your Mother.

November 13 2009 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, I watched it 12 hours ago and I am still laughing out loud to the scene with Creed. I have to say that was one of the top 5 Creed moments ever!!!!

November 13 2009 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honestly, what I thought made the episode feel tentitive was the not-funny-these-days premise. Stories about new parents (and everyone else) possibly losing their jobs just aren't that funny these days. I know alot of shows have gone there, but this just felt like overkill on something unpleasant in an otherwise light-hearted comedy. Zeesh. In my mind, it was one click away from having a plot about a psycho shooter in the office, and then having jokes surrounding it.

November 13 2009 at 8:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The thing with a boss like Michael is that yes he may have skills, may be a great salesman, but everything else about him makes it actively harder for other people to work as they have to tidy up behind him and compensate for him. That's what irritates me about Michael, when he shows any sense of normality he's actually a more interesting character, as is I just don't believe that even with any of his better qualities, that his negative ones wouldn't have resulted in him being fired or at least stopped him being promoted. Maybe if he was making absolute fortunes for the company, but I don't think he's that good.

November 13 2009 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoyed this one a lot but I think I know what is bugging Joel. The mystery itself was solved too early with them declaring it was Phyllis' character. Had they not done that and kept the mystery running with the murderer still playing along, I think it would have had more possibilities for humor. Or, what if it had been
Stanley who isn't playing at all and the mystery is driving everyone crazy in a parallel fashion to how they don't know what is going on from Corporate?

November 13 2009 at 7:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it was the strongest and funniest episode of the season, even better than the wedding.

November 13 2009 at 4:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like the episodes where they're just working in the office better. "Customer Survey" from last season, for example.

November 13 2009 at 1:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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