Rating: ★★☆☆☆

“Fundraiser” is another Office episode that follows the staff outside the actual branch to – you guessed it – a fundraiser held by Angela’s probably gay husband, Robert Lipton, better known as The (State) Senator. I hate to sound like a broken record, but this was another pretty lackluster episode as it offered little and delivered even less in terms of any character or story development as well as laughs. Even when the plots this season have been thin or redundant, at least there were usually some worthwhile punch lines, but not this time.

After over 160 episodes of a series I totally understand the writers wanting, even needing, to switch up the setting but even considering the large amount of episodes this series has, a setting switch should have more purpose than setting up one joke in which Dwight doesn’t understand how a silent auction works and literally runs away from having to pay up what he didn’t realize was a $34,000 donation. The setting also helped provide the “plot” in which Oscar tries to figure out if The Senator really is gay after he gives Oscar his phone number and a knowing glance. Spoilers – Oscar doesn’t figure it out for sure and is no more knowledgeable by the end of the episode, though he does feel better about himself for having been hit on.

The other equally weak subplot took place solely between Nelly and Daryl. Apparently Nelly wants to win Daryl over. Why she chose Daryl to focus on is beyond me because I thought the majority of the staff didn’t like Nelly – not for stealing their co-worker and friend’s job for no good reason, but because she’s often late and makes obnoxious comments. Her attempt to warm up to Daryl takes the form of feigning an affinity for a favorite food of Daryl’s, tacos, and although her awkward method of eating the Mexican dish was somewhat humorous, as was her guess that two tacos would cost about twenty dollars, that’s literally all there was of this story, and apparently it was enough to make Nelly sympathetic to Daryl, an especially close friend of Andy – you remember Andy, right Daryl? The guy whose job Nelly stole!

What I can only suppose was the main plot of the episode followed Andy attending this fundraiser and refusing to admit how “weird” as Kevin puts it the evening will be hanging out with his former coworkers and superiors after being fired only a week earlier. This weirdness escalates from Andy hugging Robert California, to buying an entire table full of well-peppered salads for himself to sit at alone after Robert tells him to leave, to finally adopting 12 sick and elderly dogs while also managing to call Erin a loyal “bitch”, but in his defense it was in a very loving manner. Nothing else happens until the end of the episode when Andy is receiving the many complicated instructions for taking care of his new friends and Kevin of all people calls Andy out for not admitting he’s having a hard time. Once he does the episode ends. See what I mean? No resolution, no progress, no jokes. Well, there was Meredith and Stanley genuinely using the term, “jabroni”, and Creed and Kevin signing up for jujitsu lessons because they don’t want to get raped, but these minor moments are so inconsequential they hardly register. I am glad though that David Wallace made 20 million dollars selling “Suck-It!” to the military; I’d love to know what they’re going to do with that.

The thing is, I in no way felt like any of what occurred in “Fundraiser” needed to take place outside the Scranton branch and that’s really why a sitcom should move locations for an episode – because the story couldn’t function without it. But this time it just felt like a cheap way to liven up a clearly very boring, uninspired, weak episode of television. With only two more episodes left to the season, as a series-long fan and quasi-professional critic, I feel absolutely zero suspense as to the fate of Andy or anyone else. The season hasn’t really built up toward anything at all and it really shows how lazy and unmotivated the cast and crew must be. Unfortunately that lack of motivation to care about The Office is rubbing off on the audience.

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This article was first posted on April 27, 2012