The Office: “Lecture Circuit, Part 1”

Two episodes of The Office in one week?? Is it my birthday? Nope – but it is Kelly Kapoor’s – not that anyone remembered. It’s one of the many highlights of Thursday’s new show which was actually a two part cliff hanger, to be continued next week. But we’ll get to that. First, we’re treated to a voice-over of sorts from Michael, who just discovered his phone has a PA function to broadcast to the entire office. Now, most bosses would reserve this for important company wide information. But as we know, Michael is not like most bosses. Instead, his employees get to listen to heavy breathing, ghost voices, coughing fits, and accidental transmissions of very personal phone calls with his doctor. Just another day at the office!

But there is work to be done – Michael has been asked to travel to the other Dunder-Mifflin branches to share his secrets of success. Because somehow, his branch is the highest performing one. Pam is accompanying him as his assistant, driver, and toboggan handler. She’ll take it all as long as it comes with time and a half pay. Their next stop is Utica, the branch where Karen now works. Normally, I hate Karen, but since Jim and Pam are about to live happily ever after and she’s out of the picture I suppose I can tolerate her for an episode. Michael wants to know if Pam is nervous and that’s why she wore makeup today. Pam says no, but secretly confides that she hates the idea of someone not liking her, and is convinced that if Al Qaida just got to know her, they’d love her. Nevermind that she’s the infidel and “the other woman.” Though, she admits, that didn’t work with Karen. Wait, did Pam just put Karen on a level worse than Al Qaida??

Back at Scranton, Kelly walks into the office with a friendly, “screw you” for everyone. It turns out that everyone forgot the birthday of the girl who needs the most attention. Ever. Big mistake! It was an apparent result of the lack of the party planning committee, after Michael stripped both Phyllis and Angela of their rights after things escalated to blackmail. Probably a good idea. Except that the end result was forgetting Kelly’s big day. Dwight and Jim decide to make it up to her and take party planning into their own hands. Dwight planning a party? I hope everyone is in the mood for beets and animal sacrifice. Meanwhile, Stanley brings a new client in who just so happens to be a young, attractive, female. That’s Andy’s cue to fall in love. The fact that he doesn’t know a thing about her, and has never spoken to her means nothing, but that could be a result of his self-admitted crippling depression.

When Michael and Pam arrive at Utica, Michael advises that Pam ease her jitters by imagining Karen naked. That idea gets even more awkward when she comes out to greet them – and is hugely pregnant! So of course Michael’s first question is “is it Jim’s?” – no, thank God! – and proceeds to call her “huge.” His verbal diarrhea continues as he wonders out loud the last time she had sex with Jim. While I don’t believe this is some big Office scandal where the baby really is Jim’s, I do believe that this happened very fast! She’s only been gone from Scranton a year and a half – that’s pretty quick to get over a big break-up, find a husband, and get knocked up to the eight month mark. She met her husband in a bar – pictures show him to be tall like Jim, and goofy too – they pose together as a sandwich and hot dog. If it were Pam and Jim I’d call this cute, but here I have to agree with Michael, and go with dorky. Michael then goes on to give a disastrous (is there ever any other kind?) presentation where he labels each employee with racist, sexist, and judgmental nicknames in his demonstration of how to memorize information, which is all part of how he sells an experience. He should probably save any profits for impending law suits. After Karen puts the kibosh on the meeting, Pam finally tells her that she and Jim are engaged. Karen puts on her best fake face to offer her congrats and they even hug it out.

Dwight and Jim continue their birthday efforts but they’re no match for the planning prowess of Phyllis and Angela. Can I please request the sign Dwight makes for Kelly for my next birthday? It reads, “It is your birthday.” No exclamation. Just professional, to the point, and classic Dwight – and really, would you expect anything different? This is the guy who normally shuns any time of elaborate celebration. Just look at his balloons – brown and black to match the carpet, and only blown up to the size of your palm, hung pathetically from a couple streamers or strewn about the table. It is quite possibly the most pathetic and depressing birthday party I have ever seen. And I love it because it is 100% Dwight. Jim, however, isn’t doing much better. He hasn’t been able to raise any money minus the three dollar bill Creed eventually gives him. Yes, I said a three dollar bill. Oh Creed.

Andy is still all about the new client, Julia. He sets off the alarm on her car after trying to check out her CDs (Feist – nice!) and then brings her and Stanley coffee before essentially begging Stanley to hook him up. Andy convinces him to trade clients and then moves in for the kill with stealth questions like – does billing go to her? Or her boyfriend? How does her boyfriend deal with her phenomenal success? He somehow misinterprets her disinterest as actual interest, enough so that he accosts this poor client in the parking lot by trying to go in for the kiss. Needless to say, he soon lost the account. Wunh wunh.

As Michael and Pam leave Utica for their next stop in Rochester, Pam announces she likes Karen and is thankful for the closure this visit brought her. This leads Michael to think about Holly. Aww! Holly! Bring her back! He jogs Pam’s memory of her by bringing up her perfect boobs. Ah, yes, now we remember her. She was the love of his life – like Pam and Jim but times 100. I’m kind of surprised he didn’t make up a fake number here. But he never got any closure; she left and they haven’t spoken since. Pam decides that they should blow off Rochester and head to Nashua instead, to see Holly, and get Michael his much needed closure – and he agrees! Nice work, Pam! I’m sure your time and a half overtime pay had nothing to do with this decision. Does that mean we are in for an Amy Ryan guest appearance next week?? I hope so – though I don’t want closure with her – I want her to come back! And what’s to come of Kelly’s “It is your birthday” party? I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out!

Pass the time ’til next week with full episodes of The Office on Fancast!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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