TV Review: The Office 8.21, “Angry Andy”

Another limp excuse of an episode for The Office.

Joseph Kratzer

Contributor

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

With a title like “Angry Andy” I was hoping that despite giving up on the notion that The Office might actually impress me, I could at least watch Andy go all Nard-Dog on Nelly or Robert California or both, but alas, things seldom go the way we hope. Instead we got an episode that opened with a quaint meditation on clichés, something this episode only had two of that I can recall which is actually a lot better than it might sound. Much like the rest of the season thus far, the episode had a weak primary plot backed by a silly secondary one, but at least the Ryan and Kelly story felt reminiscent of a classic Office staple. And on the plus side, the jokes sprinkled throughout did make me laugh, as based in mediocrity as they were.

I’ve been dreading this element of the Nelly takes over Andy’s job arc since her latest arrival at Scranton. The confrontation between these two characters has been inevitable and I expected, as I’m sure most of you have, that Nelly would stonewall Andy’s nice guy approach to reclaiming his title as manager, but it still pained me to see Andy behave like such a spineless puddle of goo, especially when it was topped off by the impotence he experienced with Erin and the subsequent conference room meeting it dominated.

Granted we don’t know all that much about the type of person Nelly is; she’s really only ever been in one mode – outrageously presumptuous – with the one exception of her break-up with the magician we learned about last episode; but I nonetheless found it curious that the ruthless job stealer expressed genuine remorse at having stolen Andy’s manhood along with his job as manager. Unfortunately this curiosity had nowhere to go as Nelly’s attempt to make Andy feel better with the meeting on impotence almost immediately denigrated into an embarrassing shame-fest for Andy as he was quickly singled out as being the only person in the office to ever encounter this issue as no one else offered any experiences in which they too couldn’t become physically aroused when they wanted to (the second cliché after the one in which Robert, a powerful male authority, was manipulated by the sexuality of a female).

As has been the case more often than not, the conference room meeting, with the entire staff in attendance, became the stage for most of the laughs for the audience with Dwight’s attempt to become erect at will, his facts about flounders, Gabe’s naïve assertion that Erin, his ex, doesn’t like sex because she told him it’s like being tackled by a skeleton, Phyllis’ two year orgasm from ages 42 to 44 (“43 – I didn’t get anything done!”), and Creed’s frank statement that not only has he never experienced a moment of impotence, but if he did he wouldn’t care. Oh, and I really want to read Dwight’s X-Men fan fiction.

Surprisingly it was Erin’s anger that prompted Andy’s (a performance I felt lacked the authenticity of Erin’s last outburst of rage when she learned of Andy and Angela’s relationship – ironic in that that outburst felt real but unwarranted whereas this time I felt it was warranted but disingenuous). Although it was nice to see a throwback to Andy’s past outburst, a trait the series seemed to forget after his return in the middle of the third season, as a fan from the series’ inception I almost resented the cuts to those scenes because my memory works well enough, thank you. Andy’s anticlimactic eruption failed to convince Robert or Nelly he should be given his job back and when Andy dared to attempt the same tactic Nelly used on Robert, he was fired.

Just as I only barely appreciated Nelly’s closing talking head a few episodes back in which she concluded that the American Dream is “just random”, I kind of appreciate this extended sentiment, however, it’s not something the series has consistently expressed and therefore feels less poignant and more infuriating that the man we watched struggle to earn the title of manager is to be so flippantly replaced by this incompetent harpy. Also, it’s boring. What Andy’s getting fired means for the audience is one of two things – either he earns back a position at the office or he doesn’t. If not, then what the hell did we bother watching the character for all season? And if he does, then we just have to sit through the first half of this season again at the end? Either way it’s a pretty weak conclusion to what’s already been the worst season of the series.

Meanwhile, because Pam fixed up Kelly with Cici’s pediatrician, Robbie (who I will forever only recognize as Mohinder Suresh of NBC’s downward spiral of a drama, Heroes), Ryan has remembered how much he’s in love with Kelly and decides that although he may not feel this way tomorrow or the next day, or maybe at all in the future, he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. This is an old trope of The Office so I’m ultimately pretty disappointed that at this point in the series they couldn’t find a better, fresher story for either character, but at the very least it was as I mentioned earlier, a nice trip down memory lane, especially considering how uncharacteristic The Office has been over the last few years. The absurdity that these two characters are still bouncing off each other like two particles with no other gravitational pull to follow is ridiculous, yes, but that ludicrousness is pretty much the only thing that still sells the joke. For a moment at the end of the episode it looked like Kelly might have displayed an ounce of growth, but that potential was dashed away as quickly as it had appeared as the two began making out on top of an Indian adorned white steed immediately after Kelly rejected Ryan’s probably marriage proposal. Although I did enjoy the closing scene where Ryan’s poem made both Pam and Jim weep – Ryan can never know.

So let’s recap – a few cheap laughs dispersed among either dramatically weak or comically redundant plots – yup, I think The Office has definitely become comfortable with this routine. With such flat, erratic characterizations and such unrealistically absurd, dead end storylines, it’s no wonder that none of the core cast members (including writer-producer, BJ Novak (Ryan)) have renewed their contracts with even showrunner Paul Lieberstein (Toby) stepping down. You guys may have read the news of NBC considering a reboot of The Office in which the few supporting actors remaining if the ninth season happens will play second string to a completely new set of core cast members. This sounds like that time your childhood pet passed away and your parents buried it in a cemetery built on an ancient Native American burial ground so it rose up, an aberration of nature, refusing to accept its eternal slumber, only to slowly decay nonetheless and instead of finally letting the abomination meet its gruesome end, your parents then decide to incinerate all but its tail and replace the rest with the cybernetic components of something entirely foreign. I understand that description sounds kind of awesome, but trust me, if you’ve been watching The Office as long as I have, it isn’t – it really, really isn’t.