“Deangelo is great. I love the guy. But I’m not sure he’s a great fit for the office. And I’m not sure I love the guy.” Michael Scott, you took the words right out of my mouth.
Will Ferrell’s debut as Deangelo Vickers, the probably-temporary new manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, was a mixed bag. Some of his scenes, like an amazing cold open in which Ferrell and Carell played beautifully off of one another, were comic gold; others, like when Deangelo sharply ordered Jim and Pam to stop talking about their baby, were less effective. It’s tough to figure out what sort of guy Deangelo is – I feel a little bit like The Office’s writers elected to give the character a few goofy personality quirks (likes the American Southwest, has a peanut allergy which is “a part of [him]”) instead of a fully-formed personality. This isn’t too worrisome, since he’s had fewer than 22 minutes of screen time total so far; hopefully he’ll get a little more rounded out as his four-episode arc continues.
What’s more troubling is the fact that Deangelo’s plotline is already starting to give me deja vu. Remember Season 5, when The Office introduced Charles Miner? Charles was a new authority figure who was immediately pronounced “cool” by the denizens of Dunder Mifflin – everyone, of course, except for Michael, who immediately resented him. Gradually, though, Charles revealed himself to be a class-A jerk, and the Dunderites turned on him. Sound familiar? Like Charles, Deangelo instantly makes a big impression on his employees; Ryan thinks he’s a badass, Kevin wants to impress him, Oscar feels like he can speak candidly to him. Kelly even reacts to both men the exact same way, though maybe that’s just Kelly being Kelly. Then Deangelo snaps at Jim and Pam and constantly prods Andy to perform for him, indicating that he might not be such a nice guy after all – again, just like Charles.
Generally speaking, Steve Carell’s imminent departure seems to have had a rejuvenating effect on The Office. The show hasn’t felt this fresh or been this consistently funny in years. But if Will Ferrell’s character ends up being an ass who leaves Scranton in shame because nobody at Dunder Mifflin liked him, the writers will have taken the easy, predictable way out by treading a path they’ve trod before.
Then again, I’m probably getting ahead of myself; besides those few aforementioned wrinkles, “Training Day” was a solid, laugh-filled half hour. Though it was easy to see where this episode would go – of course Michael would instantly grow jealous of his replacement, and of course he’d have difficulty letting go of the idea of being boss – Scott’s storyline was executed incredibly well. I’m also glad we got to see more of Erin this week, since she’s been largely MIA since “PDA.” Here’s hoping the show somehow finds another reason to make her shave a man in the very near future. Andy, too, was particularly funny tonight; Ed Helms should get an Emmy nomination for that scene in the kitchen alone. (Did anyone else think “Oh gosh, I hope his scrotum is okay this time!” after he poured the coffee on himself, then reflected for awhile about how weird a thing that is to think?)
NEXT: “I guess this is my life now.”