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August 29, 2015

Review: The Office - Scott's Tots

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 3rd 2009 11:38PM
Steve Carell as Michael Scott in The Office(S06E12) This episode had one of those "oh, this is not going to end well" vibes to it. And how could it not? Somehow Michael Scott got himself into a situation that transcended mere embarrassment. He made a promise that he couldn't keep, and it affected a lot of lives.

"Of all the empty promises I've made, this is by far the most generous," Michael said, and he was right. The whole time I was watching the Scott's Tots storyline play out, I was cringing, waiting for the moment of truth. But, surprisingly enough, things didn't turn out as bad as we thought. And for that, we have Erin to thank.

We haven't seen much of the office's newest member, have we? Besides her stumbling "relationship" with Andy, her desire to take her job much more seriously than Pam ever did, and her role in the band Subtle Sexuality, we don't know much about her. But she really stepped up in this episode; as much as Michael wanted to rely on Pam to be his human shield, Erin not only did a nice job of getting him out of that high school in one piece, but her assurance to him that he really did help the Tots was one of the most self-actualized moments I've seen in this show.

Back to Michael for a second. I loved seeing Stanley laugh his ass off and go "has it been ten years already?" when he realized Michael's 1999 tuition pledge was coming home to roost. As the kids from that third-grade class praised Michael and told him how much his gift meant to them, all I could think of was, "this is so wrong." That rap that parodied the Cops theme song was especially painful to listen to -- as catchy as it might have been: "Whacha gonna do when your dreams come true?" -- and the pain on Michael's face was palpable. I had the same expression.

But when he revealed his secret, he wasn't run out on a rail. Even when he offered the class laptop... batteries (that got a big laugh from me) as consolation, he didn't get stoned with dry-erase markers. Why? Becuase he exhibited the slightest bit of remorse when he finally admitted why he made the promise and why he couldn't keep it. The fact that he has less money at 40 than he had at 30 is probably due to some bad choices (read: Jan) but his heart was in the right place when he made the offer.

The one kid he promised the books too, however, better make sure he can still cash those checks in a few years. Anyway, good to see that Erin managed to find out that most of the kids are prepared for college due to Michael's motivation. I was heartened by the fact that Michael's "got a feeling" about her. Now, of course, those feelings led to Michael hiring Kevin as an accountant, so we can't put too much stock in them.

We also had the "Employee of the Month" plot back at the office, part of Dwight's "Diabolical Plan" to oust Jim. I'm getting tired of Dwight's diabolical plans, aren't you? What I didn't get is that Jim didn't catch on that Dwight's "objective" system was designed to make Jim come out first and Pam second. It's ironic, because they probably were the best employees and Dwight knew it. But Jim usually catches on to Dwight's games. I can see David Wallace falling for Dwight's deadpan impressions, though -- Wallace is a bit of an idiot, isn't he? -- but at least he calmed down long enough to tell Jim he was still doing a good job.

More fun stuff:

  • Surprised Ryan wasn't in on the plot before. He still resents Jim for ratting him out on the DM Infinity double-billing scam.
  • Pam: "I doubled my sales." Andy: "What, from two to four?" Pam (to interviewer): "Yup!" One of the better side interview sequences of the season.
  • How many times did Pam say that Michael did a "terrible" thing to the Tots?
  • Gotta give Rainn Wilson credit for the stellar impressions of Stanley, Kevin, and Toby. The Kevin one was the most convincing.
  • Creed: "I'm starting to think Pam's not even pregnant."
  • Can you imagine Dwight with ten fingers on one hand so he could use the other one purely for punching? It would seem to fit him well.

A solid job this week. Not the best of the season, but not bad, either. We just need to figure out where Jim's place is in this whole co-manager structure. Oh, and for the DM bankrupcy story to play itself out a bit.

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

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I think people are making way too much of this episode in the fact he promised the kids money and couldn't deliver. It was definitely a cringing moment, but was still funny. The Dwight v. Jim scenario should play out well and for the first time in 6 seasons, I am on the side of Dwight. Jim being a co-manager has made the office environment and the show more realistic, which isn't what you go for in a comedy. The laughter has gone down quite a bit since Jim's promotion as we now have a very strong straight man.

January 03 2010 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that what Michael did was totally in character for him. Was it comfortable to watch? No. But while it's the most devastating out of all the crap that Michael pulls it was well within his range.

I too thought that Jim should have been able to figure out what was going on by the time the cake arrived. This season we've seen Jim and Pam become less likable and that's weird.

Dwight is taking this over the top, but what can you expect from a man who tried to con his ex girlfriend into a marriage by having a real German pastor marry them? I hope something happens soon because I don't especially care for Ryan and if he gets in on it as well I will be annoyed.

January 02 2010 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the episode was hilarious, because when I sat down to watch the episode on my DVR I knew i was watching The Office and not Law & Order. As Harold said ... its a comedy people, and the brilliance of The Office to me has always been its absurdity. Of course if this was actual reality alot of things would be different (including the tone), but then the same could be said of EVERY Office episode ever.

December 08 2009 at 10:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harold Love

This a comedy, folks.

December 05 2009 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

I think that the ep. would have been better if they would have showed him promise the third graders and then have to re-nig. actually that would not make sense because the camera crew did not start filming the office until about 5 years ago and Michael made the promise 10 years so it would have been impossible for the documentary crew to have that footage you idiot

December 05 2009 at 2:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't think it was that awful that Michael couldn't pay for the kids' college tuition. Obviously, he had made a promise to them 10 years earlier and they had worked hard to make sure they would graduate so that they could go to college that he would pay for - but things happen. Is it sad? Yes. But so is companies going under, people becoming homeless, and all other unforeseen circumstances. Clearly, Michael should have bought bonds or something to ensure there would be money 10 years later, but he's Michael Scott. His heart is in the right place but he doesn't exactly think things through.

Life is not over for those 15 kids. Like Erin said - he still accomplished something, or more accurately - helped them accomplish something. They may not be able to afford college after they graduate from high school, but they can go to a jc and transfer. They can apply for scholarships. They can write their personal statement on their college apps about how their dream of going to college may be dashed because this local businessman promised to pay for college but couldn't.

I actually thought for a moment that Michael had bought laptops for the kids - but it didn't seem right. Though he could have bought netbooks ($200 each) - which multiply by 15 kids is $3000. He paid $4000 to that one kid alone (but those checks won't be cashed all at once...).

As for the B story - I don't think Pam and Jim are the best employees there. Well, I guess it depends on how you define "best employee". But Dwight had (has?) their highest sales. Pam is at the bottom of the sales group. Jim used to spend all his time devising pranks - since he's become co-manager, we haven't seem him do much either.

But Dwight is pretty diabolical and that gets annoying. Maybe with Ryan (who is also annoying), their evil master plan will fail miserably?

December 05 2009 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was the least enjoyable episode of "The Office" I can remember.
It felt mean spirited and out of character and above all: it simply wasn't funny.
I smiled twice in the entire episode (Pam's "Yup!" and Andy listing his former "awesome companies") ... that's pretty poor ...

December 04 2009 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved the "A" storyloine because it seemed like such a Michael thing to promise to do just because of his need to be liked.
My problem was with the Employee of the Month stuff. Aside from it being ridiculous that Jim didn't see Dwight's hands all over this scheme, I am a bit turned off by how "Snidely Whiplash" Dwight is being and it makes me long for the episode where Jim fires him. And that is the only logical pay-off considering the ridiculously malicious lengths Dwight is going.

December 04 2009 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Happy Steve

Yeah, both storylines pretty much just fizzled out at the end for me. The only parts I liked were Rainn's impersonations and Pam's "Yup!"

December 04 2009 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think this show is often at its weakest when it's painful to watch (although the absolute weakest was when Michael thought the insurance salesman was in the mob.)

The Jim storyline had no good payoff and was neither fun nor informative. The Michael one was just nonsensical. If someone made such a promise attorneys and accountants would be brought in first to make sure he could hold true and second to make sure he actually did. The parents of those kids stopped saving for their college educations and couldn't really get that time back to save (although I'd imagine it'd make national headlines and some generous companies would pick up the tab for the PR.) Beyond that, they'd be able to sue Michael for all he's worth in order to get some of the money he promised and they relied on.

Just stupid.

December 04 2009 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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