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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Office faces the battle of "Gettysburg"

     This week, on NBC's The Office, Andy (Ed Helms) takes part of the staff to "Gettysburg," trying to inspire them to approach their job as a battle. Unfortunately for him, while his employees to go, and even wear his stupid hats, they show no enthusiasm for the idea. Jim (John Krasinski) finally tells Andy to give it up and stop trying so hard. Back at the office, Robert (James Spader) presses the staff for bold new ideas to improve sales. He believes Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) may be onto something with metaphors about cookies, until Ryan (B.J. Novak) proves that Kevin is only talking about food.

     This is not the first interaction Robert has with Kevin, who fascinates him. This is funny, because Kevin is the most idiotic simpleton on staff. If someone needs to be fired for downsizing, Kevin's name will be at the top of the list. But Robert is such an outside-of-the-box thinker, he assumes others are the same, and sees a kindred spirit in Kevin. That is, until a jealous Ryan proves the truth of what Kevin is really talking about. A pity, really, as watching Robert be in awe of Kevin is really quite funny.

     The opening of the episode veers too far from the beliveable path. Apparently, Pam (Jenna Fischer) keeps faking going into labor to get out of things she doesn't want to do. In "Gettysburg," she even adds a bottle of water hidden between her legs to make the whole thing seem more authentic when Gabe (Zach Woods) holds a long, boring meaning. This takes away all credibility Pam has with her co-workers, as now they will find it hard to trust anything she says, let alone something important. God forbig she actually go into labor and need help from one of them! Though it is strange the others don't embrace the fake labor in this instance, even if they know it to be a ruse, if not just to get out of Gabe's boring lecture.

     Andy is a different boss than Michael Scott (Steve Carell). He does verge on Michael-like antics while pulling them around an historical site he isn't really respecting, but Michael would have been far more offensive in his actions. Yet, Jim is telling the truth when he tells Andy the staff likes him. Andy lets them do their jobs, for the msot part, instead of pulling them into personal obsessions. Even the Gettysburg trip, while taking them away from their work, has business purpose, in Andy's head anyway, and is not just a flight of fancy. Surely, productivity must be up under his reign.

     The adjustment of Andy not being buddy-buddy with his employees isn't too bad, either. Perhaps this is because Andy is kind of a loser, and never does develop many close friendships within the office. Everyone tolerates him, but no one wants to have him over to their house. Well, except for Erin (Ellie Kemper), of course, but Andy is involved with someone else now, and unavailable. A boss should have authority and respect, and Andy has at least the latter of those things. He makes a serviceable manager.

     There is a funny little side plot where Gabe is mistaken for an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, and must perform a show at Gettysburg. Gabe is kind of a dumb characters, and so it's great that he gets to be humorous, and make people laugh. Meaning the tourists, more than The Office fans, but still...

     Even better is the argument of "facts" between Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and Oscar (Oscar Nunez) over the Battle of Schrute Farms. Awesome watching the two go at it. There could not be a test of will between two more know-it-all characters, with fans rooting for neither to be right. In the end, Dwight's humiliation at what really happened is worse than Oscar's for being ignorant of the whole situation, and that's OK.

     The Office airs Thursdays nights at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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