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October 9, 2015

Review: The Office - Secret Santa

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 10th 2009 11:35PM
Phyllis Smith and Steve Carell in The Office: Secret Santa(S06E13) After the cringeworthiness of "Scott's Tots," seeing an episode where Michael merely acts like a petulant child is almost refreshing.

But Michael's petulance had a purpose. Dunder Mifflin is in trouble. Office morale is at an all-time low. So, while Michael was still acting like a baby, he was doing it because he wanted to be the one to lift everyone's spirits. Still, it's funny to watch childish Michael, especially when we can see big ol' Kevin act indecisive while crushing Michael's lap.

I loved seeing Phyllis as Santa. She's right; she has the temperament, the figure, and she's got bad-ass Bob Vance to back her up in case anyone objects. And to think, at one time Phyllis Smith was a cheerleader for the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals.

Anyway, as soon as Michael walked in as Santa, you knew it was on, and that Michael wasn't going to win this one. It's part of the continual struggle Michael has with not being the only guy in charge anymore (Jim gave Phyllis the OK to be Santa... in September).

But what started as a traditional Michael-being-selfish episode -- which got ratcheted up when he was a heckling Jesus -- turned into one of the better episodes of the year when he found out that DM was being sold and that David Wallace and all the execs were being fired. Michael's sincerity came through after that -- first they needed a Santa, then they needed a Jesus, then they needed a Michael -- even though his facts were wrong.

When Michael thought everyone was getting canned, he riled up everyone and reassured them all at once. It's something Jim couldn't even come close to doing (maybe because he didn't know how to contact Wallace via his kid's school). That, and the fact that the Scranton office is, as Wallace put it, "the only good thing about the company," is why Michael somehow sticks around. And that's the reason why I liked this episode so much.

More fun stuff:

  • I felt so bad for Andy when Erin found out it was him who, via misguided affection, gave her the gifts from the "Twelve Days" song. Most of those gifts either attacked her, attacked her pets, or gave her other nightmares. "It's the thought that counts," said Andy. "What were you thinking?" shot back Ellie. Oof.
  • But Andy redeemed himself with the marching band (which is -- duh -- twelve drummers drumming). Why can't these shy kids just get together already?
  • Very fitting that Michael's PIN spells "YMCA." Also very fitting that Dwight has no clue about that song. Can't imagine the Village People are on his iPod.
  • Speaking of Dwight: now that his diabolical plot against Jim is on hiatus, I like him again. He makes the holidays... something. Not fun, but... interesting. Especially when he thinks that the gift Michael was sending him piece-by-piece must be some sort of gun.
  • Very cute to see Pam try to set Oscar up with "Gay Warehouse Guy." "I only know two gay guys. But they belong together." Also interesting to see how shy Oscar was at first, then ends up playing hard to get.
  • One of the biggest laughs was seeing Kelly get all teary over the New Moon poster Jim gave her. Perfect marriage of pop culture and character.
  • Creed classifying his degree of being naughty as "more evil than strictly wrong."
  • Michael: "Phyllis has uslurped my role!" Also liked it when he called her "Tranny Claus."
  • Jim wore a jaunty red tie for the holiday. Have we see him wear anything but that solid navy tie? Ever?]
  • Still unsure of Jim as co-boss. It's better to see Jim as the put-upon cog than the earnest middle manager. Also, it seems like Pam and Jim are fading into the background since the wedding, which is something I never expected to happen.
  • More Michael: "If you need my help because I'm ruining everything, don't come to me." Pretty much sums up Michael Scott, doesn't it?
  • Odd... both The Office and 30 Rock had episodes called "Secret Santa" tonight. Guess no one plans these things out ahead of time.

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

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I'm not an overly religious man, but I thought the Jesus mocking was a little too far. Of course, Hollywood loves to bash Christians and yes I realize Michael makes fun of everyone. However, it was overboard. Somebody mentioned how this episode really brought out the characters personalities, and I definitely agree with that statement. Unfortunately, Angela is the only person who has any religious faith and is a self-righteous bigot. This is the first show I have gotten into in a very long time, and hope that The Office doesn't take the anti-religion campaign that so many other shows have.

Otherwise, I thought this episode wasn't so bad, it wasn't great but it wasn't bad. Andy's twelve days of Christmas was totally awesome and it was great to see Phyllis play a more active and upfront role. I will continue to be worried about this possible 'cleaning house' line until NBC orders a new season. While "Secret Santa" was not on the top 10 of this season, this episode has shows how developed all of our favorite characters now are.

January 03 2010 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Andy can't catch a break. I'm sure he'll eventually get the girl as he was so persistent with Angela.

There were a few laugh out loud moments but I didn't think it was the funniest Christmas episode. I also miss the real Jim and Pam. All this responsibility is ruining it for me!

I thought I knew both of their Character's personalities quite well but Pam really surprised me with her over the top outrage that her almost sixty year old mother was dating Michael. I guess we can blame it on pregnancy hormones? And Jim is no fun as manager.

January 02 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show is tanking. What I once looked forward all week to watching has become mean spirited and no longer funny. I used to hope it would not be cancelled, now I wish it would.

December 12 2009 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dr J

Erin couldn't of been to unhappy with the 5 Golden Rings

December 12 2009 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Amazing Christmas episode!!!!!

I love the way Michael and Phyllis become Santas. I enjoyed and laughed about Kevin sitting on Michael's lap, and finally, Michael sitting on Phyllis's until Bob Vance shows up. Michael becoming an angry Jesus was cool. Andy and Erin discussing about who's her Secret Santa, very nice, comingled with Andy's present to Erin at the end of the episode. Pam setting Oscar up with a gay warehouse guy, it was good, just like she sets Andy up with Erin.

The only disgusting moment, hahaha, was the future of Dunder Mifflin, as far as the office is concerned, they looked very afraid of losing their jobs, but in the end, it's David Wallace and the rest of the executives who will be fired from corporate, the Scranton branch is safe, and they're all happy for themselves.

All the Christmas episode were terrific, but this one, I think it turned out to be even better.

December 11 2009 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I felt so bad for David Wallace when everyone started cheering over the speaker phone. So sad.

December 11 2009 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was sorry we never saw the Ten Lords A-Leaping.

December 11 2009 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually liked co-manager Jim this week - he kept the otherwise insane Michael mostly in check. Loved that he granted Phyllis' wish and stuck to it.

Despite the impracticality, I really liked the 12 days of Christmas gift, as a concept it's very romantic. If Andy had just not taken the birds so literally.

I will miss David Wallace :(

I thought all four of the NBC comedies were terrific tonight - made for two hours of great festive fun.

December 11 2009 at 8:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jim as a co manager is just not working. Every time you see him on the show he is so uptight and it is not the same. Hopefully once the whole selling the company thing has passed he can return to normal.

December 11 2009 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brandon's comment

I hadn't really thought of it, but that would be a good way to get Jim back to his old self. New owners come in, see two managers as a waste of money, end up demoting Jim. Problem solved.

December 11 2009 at 8:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Pam trying to hook Oscar up was just plain adorable. Did I really just say that?

Michael however annoyed the hell out of me. I preferred him last week, despite screwing over a class of seniors.

December 11 2009 at 1:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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